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 06/04/2020

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. 

Should I be sending employees home?

The government has now advised that all non-essential businesses must close. You can find a list explaining which are considered essential here.

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.

What should I do to minimise impact?

Acas has also provided guidance for what you should do if the virus spreads more widely across the UK. You should:

  • Ensure staff details are up to date
  • Ensure emergency contact details are up to date
  • Refresh managers on policies & procedures, in particular those relating to sickness absence
  • Implement NHS advice on hygiene in your workplace, including hand-washing guidance and the provision of soap and water
  • Provide hand sanitisers and tissues to staff an encourage usage of them

You should ensure your workplace is subject to regular deep cleaning, and make sure to implement social distancing in the environment. 

It’s also worth considering whether you might need to close your workplace. This includes considering whether homeworking is possible, and maintaining communication with staff.

For further guidance and support on minisiming the impact of COVID-19 at work, download the Health Assured Managing Coronavirus in the Workplace Factsheet.

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