Coronavirus—employer FAQ

Advice on the current COVID-19 situation for employers. Please bookmark this page and check for the latest updates.
Page last reviewed on 07/08/2020

What can I do to reassure my staff?

Right now, your staff are probably feeling anxious. It’s important to acknowledge their worries about the virus, and understand that for the most part, their worries are valid.

Remind them of your commitment to wellbeing, and signpost the official government advice on COVID-19, people’s responsibilities and the recommended courses of action.



What is 'furloughing'?

Furloughing is a mandatory suspension from work 

Furloughed workers are those unable to work due to circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic—as all non-essential businesses are closed, this means a significant proportion of the workforce. These are not staff who have been made redundant. 

As an employer, if you need to furlough your staff, there is assistance available.  

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a temporary scheme, set up by the government, which will pay 80% of your furloughed staff’s wage up to £2,500 per month. 

Any UK organisation with employees can apply, including: 

  • businesses 
  • charities 
  • recruitment agencies (agency workers paid through PAYE) 
  • public authorities 

Furloughed employees must have been on your PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020, and can be on any type of contract, including: 

  • full-time employees 
  • part-time employees 
  • employees on agency contracts 
  • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts 

For further advice and guidance, see Acas’ comprehensive page on the subject—and our own legal FAQ on the subject, available here.

Should I be sending employees home?

From 4 July, many businesses and venues will be permitted to reopen and will be expected to follow COVID-19 Secure guidelines. These include:

  • hotels, hostels, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartments or homes, cottages or bungalows, campsites, caravan parks or boarding houses
  • places of worship
  • libraries
  • community centres
  • restaurants, cafes, workplace canteens, bars, pubs that are self-contained and can be accessed from the outside
  • hair salons and barbers, including mobile businesses
  • cinemas
  • theatres and concert halls
  • funfairs, theme parks, adventure parks and activities
  • outdoor gyms and playgrounds
  • museums and galleries
  • bingo halls
  • outdoor skating rinks
  • amusement arcades and other entertainment centres
  • model villages
  • social clubs
  • indoor attractions at aquariums, zoos, safari parks, farms, wildlife centres and any place where animals are exhibited to the public as an attraction
  • indoor and outdoor areas of visitor attractions including, gardens, heritage sites, film studios and landmarks

The following businesses will need to remain closed:

  • nightclubs
  • casinos
  • bowling alleys and indoor skating rinks
  • indoor play areas including soft-play
  • spas
  • nail bars, beauty salons and tanning salons
  • massage, tattoo and piercing parlours
  • indoor fitness and dance studios, and indoor gyms and sports venues/facilities
  • swimming pools and water parks
  • exhibition or conference centres - where they are to be used for exhibitions or conferences, other than for those who work for that venue.


From 25 July, subject to rates of transmission closer to the time:

  • sports facilities and venues, including such as indoor gyms, fitness and dance studios, indoor swimming pools and indoor water parks, can open

From 1 August, subject to rates of transmission closer to the time:

  • bowling alleys, skating rinks and casinos can open
  • conference and exhibition centres will be able to reopen in order to enable pilots for business events to take place - they should not yet be open fully to host events more widely
  • indoor performances to a live audience can begin to take place, in line with COVID-19 Secure guidelines and subject to the success of pilots that are taking place as soon as possible
  • further pilots of larger events can take place in venues, including in sports stadia and business conferences
  • small wedding receptions - sit-down meals for no more than 30 people - can take place, subject to COVID-19 Secure guidance
  • all remaining close contact services - such as facial treatment and make up application - can restart, in line with COVID-secure guidelines

What do I do if someone refuses to come into work?

Some people are rightfully concerned about their health. If there’s a heightened risk of catching the virus in your workplace, and you’re considered essential, some employees may refuse to come in. If they do you should listen to their concerns and offer reassurance.

I'm new to managing remote workers. Do you have any advice?

Managing remote workers is an art form, and people have been thrown into it suddenly by current circumstances. We've put together some easy to follow advice here.

How do I reassure my people in this time of change?

Again, this is a new circumstance to most, and many of your employees are likely suffering worry, stress and anxiety. Here is a short piece on managing change as an employer.

What can I do to spot potential mental health issues in my employees?

Right now, stresses are high—the lockdown, and the doom and gloom about coronavirus, mean some people are likely to suffer mental health issues now more than ever. We've put together some brief advice on watching for the tell-tale signs, whether at work or remotely

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