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 02/07/2020

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?

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

*Update, 11th May

The government has released a 'roadmap' of the proposed phased return to work. In it, it says 'workers should continue to work from home rather than their physical workplace, wherever possible.' However, workers who cannot work from home are 'actively encouraged' to return to work. Sectors of the economy that are allowed to open should be open, for example:

  • food production
  • manufacturing
  • logistics
  • distribution
  • laboratory research

These changes in policy apply from Wednesday 13th May.

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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