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Mar 2020

Coronavirus: advice for employees

What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

It seems to start with a fever, followed by a dry cough.  You should also watch out for flu-like symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain, tiredness and shortness of breath.

How can I protect myself?

The NHS suggests doing the following to prevent catching and spreading the virus:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water
  • Use a sanitiser gel
  • Catch coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues (use your sleeve if you don’t have a tissue)
  • Throw away used tissues
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are unwell

I have been abroad recently to an affected area and/or I have been in contact with someone who has been to an affected area.  Shall I come into work?

If, following up to date medical guidance, you do not need to self-isolate, please come into work but inform your line manager of your recent travels and/or the contact that you have had with someone who has been to an affected area, so that they are aware of any potential risk. 

If you have been advised by a medical expert to self-isolate, please do not come into work and advise your line manager as soon as possible. 

If you have been put into quarantine and are unable to contact your line manager, please ask somebody to make contact with your employer on your behalf as soon as possible.

In all scenarios, please keep your line manager regularly updated as to your symptoms (if any) and likely return date based on medical advice.

What should I do if I start feeling unwell whilst at work?

If you start to feel unwell whilst at work, you should self-isolate in accordance with NHS advice.  Go to a room behind a closed door and stay at least 2 metres away from other people.  Avoid touching anything, use a separate bathroom from others and call 111 for NHS advice (or 999 if your symptoms are life threatening) using your own mobile phone.  Please await further advice from NHS and your employer.

Is the office likely to close?

The current advice is that employers are unlikely to need to close their workplace.  However, please ensure that we have your correct contact details so that we are able to stay in contact with you should it become necessary to shut the office.  We are working to put contingency arrangements in place in case the threat level in England changes and will keep you notified if anything changes.

I am worried about coming to work in case I catch the virus.  Can I work from home?

Please let your line manager know if you have genuine concerns about your health and safety by continuing to come into work.  All employees have the right to make flexible working applications and these will be dealt with in the usual way.  If, following an investigation, we consider the level of risk to be low, it is likely that your request to work from home will be refused and you will need to take any time off as holiday or unpaid leave if you do not wish to attend work.  A continued refusal to attend work in such a scenario could lead to disciplinary action following our normal absence reporting procedures.

Is there anything else that I need to be doing?

  • Provide us with your up to date contact details and emergency contact details.
  • Consider if any planned business travel is essential.
  • Consider whether planned holidays to affected areas should still be taken.
  • Inform your line manager immediately if you have recently been to an affected area or have been in contact with someone who has been to an affected area.
  • Discuss any concerns that you have about yourself or others with your line manager.

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