Last updated: 18 March at 23.25
Latest Government advice is to avoid unnecessary travel and unnecessary social contact. Wherever possible you should be allowed to work from home.
We are receiving a high volume of calls and emails from branch members regarding the spread of Coronavirus. Many are worried not for themselves; they are worried about elderly or vulnerable relatives or because their work involves care for the elderly or vulnerable. Members are also worried about their rights if they need to self-isolate, or if they contract the virus. Much will depend on where you work, whether trade unions are formally recognised, what your employment contract says and whether you are part of a national agreement on terms and conditions. We have now developed a number of dedicated pages within this website to give you the information you need about Coronavirus and the impact on you and your work. Please also check the various links on the right-hand side of this page.
Key points – based on what our members have been asking us
ACAS have issued advice for employers and workers, we expect good employers to follow the ACAS advice as a minimum (see below).
The government has extended Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) so you can be paid from the first day you are off work, rather than the usual fourth day. However, you will only get SSP if your normal earnings are more than £118 a week and it is only paid at £94.25 a week which is significantly lower than the national minimum wage. If you are self-employed you cannot claim SSP.
If you need to take time off work because your child(ren)’s school has been closed then you have a statutory right to ‘reasonable’ time off until you can make alternative arrangements for their care. Your employer may offer more than the statutory allowance, check your employment contract or contact the branch.
If you are worried about being at work as you are in the ‘high-risk’ category yourself (i.e. aged over 70 or have an underlying health condition), you should ask your employer to undertake a risk assessment with you. This doesn’t have to be a huge task for your employer, but they should assess the specific risks relating to you and your job. Your employer should then work with you to mitigate the risk, such as by offering you the chance to work from home, or changing your job to reduce the risk, or providing you with additional protective equipment and clothing. Your employer must do everything reasonable to reduce the risk.
If you are worried about a colleague who may have been exposed to the virus, or who may be displaying symptoms, you should calmly bring this to the attention of your employer. Coronavirus is a notifiable disease and your employer must report it so Public Health England can offer advice. The government has said that anyone displaying symptoms should not be at work for at least 14 days, this now includes the whole household where one member of the household is displaying symptoms. The Prime Minister has said that people who self-isolate should receive SSP (depending on where you work, you might be entitled to more than SSP).