Coronavirus—employee FAQ

Advice on the current COVID-19 situation for employees. Please bookmark this page and check for the latest updates.
Page last reviewed on 06/04/2020

What is the Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases, such as SARS.

The current pandemic has been caused by COVID-19—a new strain, which has affected most countries around the world.

What are the major symptoms of Coronavirus?

The symptoms are:

  • A new, continuous cough
  • A high temperature
  • Shortness of breath

Not all people affected will have all these symptoms, and it’s important to remember that they don’t guarantee that you’re infected—these symptoms are similar to cold and flu.

How is Coronavirus spread?

As COVID-19 is a novel virus, the way it spreads isn’t fully understood. But from what we know, it’s most likely spread through:

  • Direct contact with a person while they’re infectious
  • Contact with airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes
  • Touching objects or surfaces that were contaminated by airborne droplets, then touching your own mouth or face


What precautions can I take to stop the spread?

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure that you wash your palms, fronts of hands and thumbs
  • Wash your hands when you get into work, after travelling on public transport, when you arrive home and before eating in addition to standard hygiene practices
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are unavailable
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your upper sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Put your tissue in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • Stay away from unwell people
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if you’re hands aren’t clean
  • If working in a hot-desking environment, then the use of antimicrobial wipes for surfaces such as keyboards and phones can be helpful to clean surfaces

What should I do if I experience symptoms?

This advice is for people with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), including those with a diagnosis of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, who must remain at home until they are well.

The main messages are:

  • If you have symptoms of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), self-isolate in accordance with government advice. This action will help protect others in your community while you are infectious
  • Plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure you can successfully stay at home
  • Ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
  • Stay at least 2 metres (about 3 steps) away from other people in your home whenever possible
  • Sleep alone, if possible
  • Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water
  • Stay away from vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, as much as possible
  • You do not need to call NHS 111 to go into self-isolation. If your symptoms worsen during home isolation or are no better after 7 days, contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999.

How do I keep children occupied during this lockdown?

As part of the lockdown, schools are closed to most children—the exceptions being children of key workers.

For parents, guardians and carers who suddenly have children around them at all times is a major difference, and not necessarily an easy one to manage. 

We've put together a brief, helpful guide on keeping kids occupied, entertained and educated here.

Should I self-isolate?

You should self-isolate by staying at home in accordance with government advice if you have either:

  • A new, continuous cough
  • A high temperature

Don’t go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. You don’t need to contact 111 to tell them about your self-isolation.

What are the restrictions on movement?

People should stay at home, with a small set of circumstances allowing minimal travel:

  • shopping for necessities, as infrequently as possible

  • one form of exercise a day, such as running or cycling, alone or with household members

  • for medical or care needs, for example to help a vulnerable person

  • travelling to and from work, but only if you cannot work from home

These restrictions are in place to help slow the spread of coronavirus. Police are able to enforce these rules with fines—you could be charged £60 if outside without good reason, as outlined above.

These fines double with repeated infractions, up to a maximum of £960. 

These restrictions are expected to last for at least three weeks from the end of March. We will update with any further information.

When should I call 111?

You should only call 111 if you can’t use the online Coronavirus service. You should use the online service if:

  • You feel you can’t cope with your symptoms at home
  • Your condition gets worse
  • Your symptoms don’t get better after 7 days 

Should I be worried about COVID-19?

For the majority, COVID-19 infection is mild. But for the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions, it can cause serious illness. It’s natural to be a little worried.

We can channel that worry positively, though. By keeping a good hand-washing and respiratory hygiene regime—and encouraging that in others—we can minimise the risks to others and slow down the spread of the virus.

Stay informed and follow the advice of the local health authorities including any restrictions put in place on travel, movement and gatherings.

Should I wear a facemask?

Public Health England doesn’t recommend the use of facemasks as an effective means of preventing the spread of infection.

However, if you receive external care you may be asked to wear a mask to minimise the risk to your carer.

What should I do when my self-isolation ends?

You should remain at home, following government guidelines

The government has implemented measures to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Everyone should stay at home, going outside once per day to exercise and once per day to buy essentials like food and medicine.

This situation is evolving—please check the government’s website for up to the minute details.

If you have not had any signs of improvement and have not already sought medical advice, you should contact NHS 111 online. If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111.

A cough may persist for several weeks in some people, despite the coronavirus infection having cleared. A persistent cough alone does not mean you must continue to self-isolate for more than 7 days.

What can I do to help myself get better?

Drink water to keep yourself hydrated—you should drink enough during the day so your urine is a pale clear colour.

You can use over-the-counter medications, such as paracetamol, to help with some of your symptoms. Use these according to the instructions on the packet or label and do not exceed the recommended dose.

If I, or someone I know is pregnant, do I need to take additional precautions?

No. But it is important to follow the precautions outlined.

Please contact NHS 111 or your healthcare provider if you have concerns.

Where can I find further information?

You can find more information and advice on the following websites:

The UK government’s response



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