With the spread of Coronavirus escalating outside China and working its way through Europe, what does that mean for you and the potential impact on your business?
We look at how it could affect you and what you can do to help.
Increase in absence rates
During a pandemic prior planning is essential to ensure business continuity. Absence rates can soar from the usual 4.4 days per worker per year (2018 ONS) or 2% to 12% and beyond depending on the size and circumstances of your business. It is essential that you have a response plan in place to help minimise the impact on your business.
Managing actual absence due to illness is straightforward, but it’s not always that easy when it comes to exposure and potential illness. Current guidance is self-isolation for at least 14 days during which time a person may not actually be ill. Under Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rules, if an employee is excluded, abstains or is prevented from working by reason of their being a carrier of, or having been in contact with, a case of a ‘relevant disease’, they are deemed incapable of working and are therefore still entitled to be paid SSP.
Fear of exposure
Some people will have genuinely been exposed and may need to self-isolate, others may simply be fearful of exposure and feel unable to attend work under those circumstances. You should be sensitive to those with underlying health conditions, or are pregnant, where there is a genuine concern. Fear alone, however, is not a reasonable excuse to not attend work.
Childcare and dependency leave
Normally there is the right to unpaid time off for the breakdown of normal childcare or arrangements for the care of dependants. However, due to the length of time involved with the virus this may be insufficient to support those employees who must take time off. You might want to consider reviewing your policies in respect of these arrangements and permit emergency use of annual leave in these circumstances.