Protecting Employees From Coronavirus
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Coronavirus is a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Common signs of infection include headache, fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Individuals who are elderly or pregnant and anyone with pre-existing medical conditions is at the greatest risk of becoming seriously ill from coronaviruses.
How Does Coronavirus Spread
Although the current coronavirus outbreak likely resulted from people who were exposed to infected animals, COVID-19 can spread between people through their respiratory secretions, especially when they cough or sneeze. According to health experts, the spread of COVID-19 from person-to-person most likely occurs among close contacts who are within a few metres of each other. It’s unclear at this time if a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.
Enforce self-isolation protocols
- Relocate the employee to an area that is at least 2 metres away from other people. If possible, find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a closed door, such as a staff office. If it is possible to open a window, do so for ventilation.
- Instruct the employee to visit NHS 111 online immediately. While the employee waits for advice from NHS 111 or an ambulance to arrive, they should remain in isolation. Make sure the employee avoids touching other people, surfaces and objects.
- Advise the employee to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze, and put the tissue in a bag or pocket then throw the tissue in a rubbish bin. If they don’t have any tissues available, instruct them to cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.
Listen to your health protection team
If a member of the public or one of your employees becomes a confirmed COVID-19 case and has had contact with your workplace in the last 14 days, your local health protection team will contact you to discuss the case, identify people who have been in contact with them and advise on any actions or precautions that should be taken. The health protection team will also be in contact with the case directly to advise on isolation procedures and identify additional points of contact.
Make workplace adjustments
Some employees might not be comfortable coming into work because of the spread of coronavirus. As an employer, you are required to listen to any concerns your staff may have. If employees’ concerns are genuine, it is your duty to resolve them to ensure the health and safety of your staff. Potential resolutions include implementing flexible work options (eg remote work) or allowing the employee to take time off as holiday or unpaid leave. If an employee continually refuses to attend work without genuine concerns present, you have a right to take disciplinary action.
Follow sick leave and pay standards
The government confirmed that any employee who becomes a confirmed case of COVID-19 or has been instructed by either the NHS or a health professional to self-isolate should receive statutory sick pay during their absence from work. Employees are also entitled to time off of work if they need to take care of a dependent (eg a child) who has become a confirmed case of COVID-19 or instructed to self-isolate. If any of your employees are not sick, but you make the decision to not have them come to work, they are entitled to their usual pay.
Maintain a sanitary work environment
Instruct employees to clean their hands often with an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60 per cent to 95 per cent alcohol, or wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Soap and water should be used preferentially if hands are visibly dirty. Employers should also routinely clean frequently touched surfaces (eg telephones, door handles and toilets).
Additional Best Practices
In addition to government guidance, be sure to educate employees on the signs and symptoms of coronavirus and the precautions that can be taken to minimise the risk of contracting the virus, without causing panic. Further, appoint a single individual or department as the point of contact within your organisation for employee questions about COVID-19. Lastly, review workplace health and safety programmes and emergency action plans to ensure that they include infectious-disease protocols.
Potentially polices for you to check
As this is a new disease that no one in the UK has experienced, it is hard to see the full extent on how this will affect a business. Common insurances businesses take out, i.e. business interruption or business travel insurance, have been mentioned in the effect of coronavirus. This is down to employees haven’t been able to travel to other countries for work, and companies’ environment has been effected.
If there is something that you are unsure about or worried about, speak to us today. At Trevellyan Insurance we offer the best advice that we can give in order to make sure you’re fully aware of how you’re covered.
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