Current government advice is for everyone to stay at home (except for those who work in critical sectors) and to stop unnecessary contact with people. Employees who are at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus, have received a letter from the NHS, to say they should take extra steps to protect (or 'shield') themselves. This instructs them to stay at home for at least 12 weeks. Therefore, this category of employee will not be able to attend work.
All employers have a duty to support their workforce to help take these steps and agree more flexible ways of working. However, where employers are unable to adopt such measures, they may find their employees do not want to go to work, due to their concern about catching coronavirus.
If, as an employer you find yourself in this situation, you should listen to their concerns and take all reasonable steps to support your workforce. However, if your employees still do not want go into work, what should you do?
You could allow your employees (both vulnerable and/or non-vulnerable) to remain at home and:
• Continue to pay them as usual
• Adopt the furlough provisions
• Request they take holiday - if the employer does decide to do this, they must tell employees at least twice as many days before as the amount of days they need people to take. For example, if they want to close for five days, they should tell everyone at least ten days before
• Request they take unpaid leave.
Although some employers may be able to continue to operate with their employees working from home or with measures in place such as the above, others may need to consider lay-offs, reducing hours or pay, or even redundancies. Further detail about this is available here.
This article was last updated on 30 March 2020.