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    Managing HR Through COVID-19
    A Practical Guide for Multinational Employers

    Prepared by Mayer Brown

    As at April 29, 2020

     

    Overview

    This guide will help employers manage HR legal and practical issues arising from COVID-19. It covers:

    1. Good Practice Guidance giving high-level consideration;
    2. An Action Point Checklist drilling down into the detail; and
    3. Answers to Key Questions facing employers in the UK.

    This publication has been written by Mayer Brown and forms part of a wider Mayer Brown Guide for Multinational Employers, which is available here.

     

    CONTACT: Mayer Brown  |  Nicholas Robertson |  Partner  |  nrobertson@mayerbrown.com |  +44 20 3130 3919

     

     

    Good Practice

    There are a number of key good practice points that employers across all jurisdictions will want to consider in connection with COVID-19:

    1. Keep up-to-date with accurate information

    It is difficult for an employer to make proper decisions based on rumors, assumptions and “fake news”. Therefore, it is important for an employer to stay up-to-date with accurate information and make decisions based on facts. Employers should monitor official sources, including government advisories and the World Health Organization (“WHO”) website, and check that the information they receive is factually correct.

    2. Know where your employees are and where they have been

    An employer cannot keep its employees out of harm’s way if it does not know where they are and where they have been. As outbreaks of COVID-19 occur in various parts of the world, keep track of which of your employees could be at risk.

    3. Communicate with your employees

    Employers should communicate openly and often with their employees so that they have the information they need to help keep themselves educated and updated about the coronavirus. It should not assume that all employees will educate themselves or have access to the same sources of reliable information. Putting everyone on the same page will help the employer and its employees move together in a timely manner as a business. Open and timely communication will help build trust and reduce the spread of rumors that may cause anxiety in the workplace.

    4. Provide a safe platform for employees to raise concerns

    Employers should give employees a safe platform where they can raise concerns on all aspects related to work, from mental health to the risk of having contracted COVID-19. This is not just good employee relations, but early detection and doing something about it can help to reduce the spread of the virus. It is one thing to have an employee assistance plan and ask employees to report issues, but if those who report are stigmatized or treated with contempt, employees may be deterred from reporting.

    There may be nervousness and anxiety in the workplace, and possibly even conflicts, given concerns about the virus. Employees should be given avenues to communicate such anxiety to their employer, so that concerns are addressed earlier and do not balloon into bigger issues.

    5. If you can be flexible, then be flexible

    Employers should understand that this is a time of stress for all parties, including employees. Recognize that employees will have different needs depending on their circumstances (e.g., those with school-age children may need more time off as school classes are suspended).

    This time of uncertainty will pass but employees will remember how their employer treated them long after the threat of the virus has disappeared. A disgruntled employee may try to make it known to the world how badly their employer treated them. This may affect the employer’s brand and ability to attract and retain talent. The employer may then have to wait for another crisis or challenging time to get the opportunity to prove itself as a good employer.

    6. One size may not fit all

    While consistency in treatment is generally to be favored, be conscious that one size may not fit all. For example, “work from home” or remote working may not work for everyone. The implementation of general directives should be checked against legal obligations under the contract of employment and local law.

     

     

    Action Point Checklist

    In general terms, the steps an employer needs to be taking now relate to four categories: Review, Communicate, Update and Travel. No list of action points will be comprehensive for all employers, but the following will form a good starting point.

    1.  Review

    • Review business continuity plans and how these would be maintained if employees are suffering from coronavirus absences.
    • Review existing sickness policies and procedures. Are they adequately disseminated to staff? Do they need amending?
    • Review contracts of employment. It may be relevant to establish whether or not individuals can be asked to undertake different work or at different locations or at different times from the norm.
    • Review the employer’s emergency procedures, e.g., if there is an infection and the workplace is closed on a temporary basis. If appropriate, carry out a test run of an emergency communication to see how robust the process is.
    • Ensure contact details for all staff are up-to-date.
    • Undertake a risk analysis of high-risk groups of employees, and what steps can be taken to try and reduce risks for those groups. These groups may include:
      • those who travel frequently to countries where there is currently or may well in future be a risk of infection.
      • those with health issues, such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, or those who are pregnant, who are more likely to suffer adversely if they become infected with the virus.
    • Review procedures in the office for preventing the spread of the virus, e.g. increased cleaning, availability of hand sanitizers and tissues etc.
    • Review planning for the possibility of large scale absenteeism. For example:
      • Identify the essential positions within the business, what needs to carry on during an emergency, and what is the minimum number of employees required.
      • Identify employees with transferable skills so that these essential positions can always be temporarily filled.
      • Consider flexible work patterns, such as employees working from home.
      • Identify those employees who have the necessary IT infrastructure to work from home (e.g., remote access to the office computer systems).

    2.  Communicate

    • Identify an appropriate person as spokesperson/communicator of updates on policies etc., with appropriate credibility.
    • What, if anything, is said about absence from work for reasons other than ill-health, e.g., where an office is closed?
    • Assuming the employer has a health and safety committee, have there been any discussions with that committee about COVID-19 and its potential impact? If there is no such committee, the employer may want to consider setting one up.
    • Communicate as a matter of urgency with the high-risk groups identified in any risk review to ensure they are aware of their high-risk status and the measures that are being taken to assist.
    • Ensure managers are aware of the relevant workplace policies.
    • Consider issuing guidance to employees on how to recognize when a person is infected with the coronavirus. What are the symptoms, and what should one do if one is taken ill at home or at work? It is also important to emphasize that individuals may not recognize that they have the virus and so may not be exhibiting symptoms. Employees should be informed of the reporting procedure within their employer if they have a potential infection as well as any official reporting process.
    • Provide advice to encourage individuals to take a degree of responsibility for their own health and safety and to slow the spread of the virus. For example, advice on handwashing and use of sanitizer gels, coupled with a willingness to self-identify where it is possible that individuals have come into contact with individuals with the virus, have become infected themselves or have returned from private travel abroad to an area which turns out to be affected by the virus.
    • Make clear that where staff are ill, they must not come to work regardless, i.e. “struggle through”.

    3.  Update

    • Initiate a system to keep up-to-date, especially given the speed at which infection is spreading.
    • Consider establishing a committee on the employer’s side to coordinate responses and engage with any staff consultative forum, and with particular responsibility for staying up-to-date with public health updates.
    • How will employers communicate to employees regular updates on the coronavirus and its spread? As news develops, it is extremely important for an employer to be issuing fact based updates, to avoid the possibility of fear being used by worried employees to make decisions about whether or not to come to work, whether to travel abroad, etc.
    • Who will have the authority to determine changes to policy and issue any new communications to staff?

    4.  Travel

    • Log employee travel before it is booked and check against the latest travel protocols.
    • Ensure staff know that this applies to personal travel as well as business travel.
    • Encourage staff to tell you if close family members with whom they share a house are travelling to infected areas.
    • Replace face-to-face meetings (especially those involving travel) with video conferences, telephone conferences, etc.
    • Consult/communicate about whether to encourage varied work patterns to avoid travelling on public transport at rush hour.

     

     

    Country Overview

    As at April 29, 2020

    1. What are an employer’s main legal obligations?

    In the UK, employers are subject to a framework of obligations, partly contained in common law and partly through statute and regulation. This is further complicated by obligations deriving from Europe. The key obligations are:

    • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (the “Act“).
    • The common law (which implies a duty to take reasonable care of employees).
    • European Council Directive 89/391/EEC (the Framework Directive) which includes the basic duty to ensure safety and health of workers (articles 5 and 6).
    • The Coronavirus Act 2020 (the “Coronavirus Act”).
    • Treasury Direction made under Sections 71 and 76 of the Coronavirus Act 2020

    The Act and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the “Regulations“) set out statutory obligations that employers owe to employees. The Act sets out general duties and the Regulations are more explicit in respect of what employers are required to do to manage health and safety under the Act. Under the Regulations employers are required to:

    • carry out an assessment of risk to employees’ health;
    • have in place a clear emergency procedures policy should there be an event that results in ‘serious and imminent danger to persons at work’;
    • communicate relevant information about the emergency procedures to all employees; and
    • provide appropriate training to all employees to ensure that the emergency procedures have been understood.

    These obligations are very important to employers looking to formulate their response to the threat of customers, staff, visitors to premises etc., being infected with the coronavirus and so spreading the virus into the employer’s workforce. An employer is required to undertake risk assessments against identified risks and it is clear that protection against the risk of infection spreading at work requires a risk assessment. Additionally an employer is obliged to stay abreast of health and safety developments, which is key given the rapidly developing situation and consequently the advice being given by public authorities.

    There are a number of more specific legal obligations which employers must not overlook. For example, a global pandemic is likely to result in the need for employers to collect, hold and disclose medical information about employees. As a result, the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR“) will be particularly relevant. Information about employees’ health will constitute ‘sensitive personal data’ and therefore such information will have to be processed in accordance with GDPR. However, employers can process medical data relating to a data subject where it is necessary for the employer to comply with its legal obligations in relation to health and safety.

    There are enhanced health and safety duties on employers of pregnant women and disabled employees. This is relevant since pregnant women are thought to be more at risk from the coronavirus as are some disabled staff e.g. asthmatics and diabetics. In particular, pregnant workers are entitled to a work assessment under Regulation 16 of the Regulations if there is a potential risk to health and safety of mother or baby. Clearly this would apply to the risk of infection from the coronavirus.

    It is important that any review of arrangements and new policies, initiatives etc., are properly recorded, since policies, training and communications need to be recorded for health and safety records (Regulation 3 Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996).

    It should not be forgotten that under the Act, all employees have a general duty to take reasonable care to ensure that they do not endanger themselves or anyone who may be affected by their actions at work.  Employers should remind their employees of this and warn them that their failure to adhere to an emergency procedure, which results in other employees suffering, could result in disciplinary action or even prosecution under the Act.

    2. Do I need to prepare for and have in place a workplace plan to deal with COVID-19?

    Most employers will already have business continuity plans in place but it is sensible to review these to consider whether they deal with a situation such as an infectious disease pandemic. If not, then they should be amended quickly and re-communicated to employees.

    There are a number of highly important sources of advice for employers. In our view, the duty of health and safety requires employers to stay on top of the latest information about the spread of coronavirus in areas of the world relevant to the employer and its business. This could include advice relating to foreign travellers from associated companies and customers visiting the UK, foreign travel by UK employees to other parts of the world or something as simple as considering areas of high risk of infection within the UK (e.g. during a daily commute on public transport). Useful sources of advice which we have identified include:

    3. What should a workplace COVID-19 response plan cover?

    For general guidance on the contents of a workplace COVID-19 response plan, please review the Appendix, in conjunction with the Action Point Checklist.

    4. Can I direct my employees to go home or stay at home if there is an outbreak?

    Much would depend on the terms of the individual contract. Equally most employees who are capable of working at home may well accept this readily, regardless of the power under the contract to require this to happen.

    Following the Prime Minister’s confirmation on March 16, 2020, that everyone should stop non-essential contact with others, stop all unnecessary travel and work from home where they possibly can, many employers have now directed employees to work from home.

    5. Can I direct an employee to see a doctor?

    Current government guidance states that businesses and workplaces should encourage their employees to work at home, wherever possible. If someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow the “stay at home” guidance.

    The latest guidance on the gov.uk website also “strongly suggests” that employers use their discretion around the need for medical evidence for a period of absence where an employee is advised to stay at home either as they are unwell themselves, or live with someone who is, in accordance with the public health advice issued by the government. Whilst this, naturally, requires a degree of trust in employees, it is probably sensible for employers to take this approach, especially since individuals are now advised to contact NHS 111 rather than visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or hospital. The Government has now introduced a scheme for employees to obtain online Isolation Notes, to provide documentary evidence about the need for self-isolation. Whilst these will, presumably, still require an employer to trust the employee in relation to the information being provided to NHS 111 we anticipate that employees and employers will draw some comfort from having an electronic note confirming the advice given to the employee.

    6. Do I have to continue to pay wages and provide other employment-related entitlements during a COVID-19 outbreak?

    The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (commonly known as the Furlough Scheme)

    The recently introduced Scheme enables employers to claim a grant of up to 80% of the employee’s “regular wage” or £2,500 per month, whichever is the lower. In addition to this, the employer is also covered for employer National Insurance contributions and automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage. If the employer pays 100% of the salary whilst on Furlough leave then those excess National Insurance contributions and pension contributions are not covered.

    The Furlough Scheme applies to all employers. Any UK organisation with employees can apply. It provides that any employees (including apprentices and company directors) can be put on Furlough provided they were on the PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. Similarly fixed term employees must have been on that PAYE payroll by that same date. They also however need to be notified to HMRC on an RT1 submission on or before 19 March 2020. It is unclear whether employees have to consent to be placed on furlough as the Direction and the relevant Guidance Note is not consistent but it is more likely that provided the employer is authorised to instruct the employee to go on furlough then that is enough. However, the point is not entirely clear at the time of writing.

    It is an all or nothing Scheme which does not permit individuals to undertake any revenue generating activities for the employer whilst they are on Furlough. The Government accepts that holiday may be taken whilst on furlough. Under English law, an employer can generally require some holiday to be taken at a time specified by the employer. There is nothing in the Direction or the Guidance Note that alters that general position.

    The Treasury Direction governing the Scheme identifies that an employee is capable of being a furloughed employee if they meet three conditions:

    1. the individual has got to have been instructed by the employer to cease all work in relation to their employment;
    2. the period for which the employee has or will have ceased such work is 21 calendar days or more;
    3. the furlough instruction “is given by reason of circumstances arising as a result of coronavirus or coronavirus disease”.

    Whilst employees are furloughed, they will continue to accrue leave in line with the employment contract. Employees can take holiday whilst on furlough, so allowing an employee to take one day of holiday will not invalidate a three-week furlough period, which would leave the employer significantly out of pocket.

    Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

    If staff are self-quarantining because they are showing symptoms of the coronavirus, then an employer’s sick pay policy will apply.  The Coronavirus Act has amended the rules so that statutory sick pay is now payable from the first day of sickness or self-isolation rather than the fourth.

    There is also a Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme which will repay employers the current rate of SSP that they pay to current or former employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020. Employers who pay more than the current rate of SSP can only claim the current rate amount. The repayment will cover up to two weeks starting from the first day of sickness if an employee is unable to work because they either (1) have coronavirus or (2) cannot work because they are self-isolating at home. However, it is very unclear whether staff can be put on furlough after they have become ill. The Guidance Note indicates that this is possible whilst the Direction takes a contrary view. We think that the Guidance Note, in practice, will set expectations and so employers can furlough employees who are sick and pay them under the Furlough Scheme but the point is not clear-cut.

    Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (‘Amendment Regulations’)

    The government has made amendments to the Working Time Regulations which will allow workers to carry up to four weeks of annual leave over into the next two leave years. This will only apply where they have not been able to take their statutory annual leave entitlement due to coronavirus. The Amendment Regulations also restrict an employer’s right to refuse consent to leave being taken on particular days. Employers will only be able to require a worker not to take carried-over leave on particular days where they have a “good reason” to do so. “Good reason” for this purpose has not been defined, although genuine operational reasons are likely to be sufficient.

    Our view is that staff should be paid if they are being asked to remain away from work on medical grounds by either the employer or a medical expert. The same would apply where the medical advice is for individuals to remain away from work although they have only mild symptoms. The same advice would also apply to those with an Isolation Note. Subject to the terms of the contract we think this would be treated as contractual sick pay but we anticipate that many employers will choose to treat people as being on full pay if they have no symptoms but sick pay if they have mild symptoms.

    Where individuals are self-isolating because the employer asks them not to attend work (perhaps the employer is taking a more cautious view on the spread of the infection or the individual belongs to a high risk group that the employer wishes to protect) then again we think that the employer should be providing full payment to those individuals. Although the point is arguable, it would seem to be difficult for an employer to require an employee who is otherwise fit and well and willing to work, to stay away from work and then not pay them in full under the contract. It is possible that a different conclusion might be reached if the contract specifically identified another option (for example short time working). In addition, any policy or procedure put in place by an employer is going to depend on compliance of individuals. If the employer is trying to suspend individuals who have self-reported that they have visited an area that was infected or they had come into contact with someone who is infected, but the employer is not going to pay them, then this will only encourage non-compliance with the underlying procedure by the employee.

    The other point to bear in mind is that the employer’s treatment of its workforce in these circumstances is going to be remembered.  Individuals who are effectively prevented from working and then who are not paid in accordance with the company’s sick pay policy or (when they are not sick) are not paid in full, will remember that treatment. Conversely, where an employer has implemented a speedy and effective policy and has stood by employees and complied with the sick pay policy or paid them in full (depending on the reason for absence), this will be a powerful factor in building loyalty and stability in the workforce.

    7. Can I quarantine certain staff to certain parts of an office or send them to a different office?

    The likelihood is that, in most cases, assuming the employer is trying to take sensible steps, employees will not seek to contest these. Bear in mind that, at the time of this note, many offices are now closed and so for many employees this issue can only apply to key staff, either because the employer has identified them as key, or because the UK Government’s identification as key staff applies to them and so they are generally still attending their place of work on a regular basis.

    If there is a dispute about the action the employer proposing to take, then the answer will partly depend on the terms of the contract of employment. An employer is entitled to issue reasonable instructions, provided these do not contravene the terms of the contract of employment. Reorganizing an office so that individuals (such as key staff) have reduced contact with other staff is unlikely to be a breach of contract. Requiring staff to work at a different location could be a breach of contract if it is outside the scope of the relocation clause contained in the contract. If an employer is trying to quarantine high risk staff out of concerns for their safety, it is unlikely that this would amount to a contravention of the legislation prohibiting discrimination against disabled individuals (assuming that high risk staff are more likely to be viewed as disabled). However, if staff object, and it is arguable that the staff being quarantined will suffer a detriment as a result, then the employer may have to tread more carefully. You would hope that an employer that communicates its plans carefully and rationally, and takes on board any concerns raised by employees, is unlikely to have a problem with sensible measures.

    8. Can I direct my employees to report suspected cases of COVID-19?

    Yes, in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, in our view, it would be lawful and reasonable to ask an employee to report if they suspect they have COVID-19. The employer has an obligation to report any instances of an employee becoming infected through transmission at work.

    9. Can an employee lawfully refuse to attend work if there is a COVID-19 outbreak?

    Since many offices are now closed or relying on skeleton staffing only, this issue is only applicable to relatively few employees. Conversely for staff who are key, there will be a greater need for them to attend the office and so greater pressure on them to do so, even if they have understandable concerns. However, as lockdown arrangements are released then this will become much more of an issue. We have written about such issues in our think piece article called ‘Life in the time of Corona’, available on our website.

    The same issues are likely to arise for employers, whether the employee is being asked to attend work during the lockdown period or is being asked to return to work as restrictions are lifted. In principle, an employee who has no rational reason for staying away from work is guilty of unauthorised absence and can be disciplined accordingly. Employers will want to ensure that they are approaching similar cases in a similar fashion so this may require a joined up approach between different sites and different cases.

    But this cannot be answered in the abstract. For example what approach should an employer take with one of the high risk groups who may be more likely to be infected or for whom the consequences are worse? The provisions of Section 44 ERA 1996 also need to be borne in mind.  If the employee takes appropriate steps to protect themselves in circumstances where they believe that there is a serious or imminent danger to them, then any attempt to discipline or dismiss that staff member will give rise to an uncapped damages claim. It may be better to say in any policy document that, where an individual has concerns about attending work (given the possibility of picking up the virus) then this must be disclosed before the working day in question and the employee should accept that they should work at home so far as possible and if necessary outside normal working hours, to ensure continuity of operations.

    The Coronavirus Act has created ‘Emergency Volunteering Leave’, which will enable emergency volunteers in health or social care to take unpaid time off work and receive compensation for loss of earnings. Any employee is entitled to become a volunteer and is entitled to give just three days’ notice to the employer. The terms of their employment will be unaffected by their volunteering apart from remuneration, and they will be allowed to return to work as normal after the volunteering stint which is similar to maternity leave.

    10. Can I screen employees and customers before allowing them to enter the workplace?

    We are aware of a number of examples in the UK where employers are proposing to introduce such screening. There are two separate ways to evaluate this.

    The legal issues are tricky. Some form of screening will almost certainly involve the processing of sensitive personal data about that individual. In practice, where an employee consents to this, there is unlikely to be any significant legal risk. However, the litmus test is going to be what happens with an employee, customer, supplier, etc., who declines to be tested. Can the employer then prevent access, in the case of an employee, to the building, where the employee has declined to be tested? Similarly, human rights and civil liberties issues are likely to be engaged if an employee has to permit testing to take place as a precondition to being allowed in to work. If an employee declines to be tested in those circumstances, but is otherwise ready and willing to work and is not exhibiting any signs of illness, then the employer probably has to pay the employee whilst they are at home, since they would, in effect, be suspended. We think it is unlikely that employers would wish to consider dismissing employees (purportedly on the basis that they have declined to comply with a reasonable instruction, i.e. to permit testing to take place).

    On the other hand, employers owe a duty to employees generally to take reasonable care for their health and safety. A screening program, designed to slow down the spread of the virus amongst the workforce, has, clearly, got a legitimate objective. The virus is spread by people before any visible symptoms appear, so testing is necessary to identify people who are carriers. Businesses whose workforce has a lower and slower rate of infection will weather the storm more easily than one where there are high rates of infection, leading to mass absences from work. So there is also a legitimate business reason for a testing/screening program. It is also difficult to see many employees objecting to the screening, particularly if it is done in the right way.

    Our expectation is that an increasing number of employers will elect to have screening or testing programs. We think it will be important that an employer has considered carefully how to communicate the need for testing, and what the test results will (and will not) identify. The employer should also consider who will be doing the testing, and whether it will be a medically trained professional. Clearly, the test equipment itself must be medically sound. Employers will also need to think about how people will be told if there is a potential adverse result, so that the individual is required to return home. Can individuals be told privately that there is a chance they have become infected, or will this happen publicly? How will employees get home, having been told that they are potentially infectious?

    Ultimately, we think that employers may well take the view that it is better to slow down the spread of the virus in the workforce, than run the relatively low risk of a claim from a disappointed employee who declines to take the test. We think that an employer is unlikely to be able to suspend an employee who has not taken the test, and refuse to pay them. An employee who is otherwise ready, willing and able to work, who is suspended by the employer, almost certainly has the right to be paid during that period of absence. The employer’s sanction would be to institute disciplinary action against the individual. However, we think that is unlikely to be attractive to employers.

    CONTACT:  Mayer Brown  | Nicholas Robertson  |  Partner  |  nrobertson@mayerbrown.com | +44 203 130 3919

     

     

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    Appendix: Workplace COVID-19 Response Plan

    A plan should deal with the following:

    BEFORE AN OUTBREAK

    • Preventive measures.
    • Disinfecting the workplace regularly.
    • Maintaining good indoor ventilation.
    • Making sure that employees, suppliers and customers are aware of the employer’s plans in the event of an outbreak.
    • Ensuring sufficient supplies of appropriate masks, alcohol wipes, gloves, paper towels, thermometers, disinfectants, etc.
    • If employees are required to travel to areas known to have the virus, whether such travel is necessary.

    DURING AN OUTBREAK

    • The steps the employer will take to ensure the safety of employees while at work during a COVID-19 outbreak include how an employer will identify risks of employees becoming infected and how to minimize such risks. The employer may also wish to seek advice from government/official sources as to what steps need to be taken, e.g., quarantine requirements.
    • Communication strategies, such as how and what information will be communicated to employees, suppliers and customers.
    • Where employees will work, e.g., home, in the office or in alternative temporary offices.
    • How to deal with infection and/or deaths of colleagues, e.g., counselling.
    • A mechanism for determining whether employees, suppliers and customers will be allowed access to the workplace, especially if they show symptoms of being infected by COVID-19.
    • What to do with high-risk/exposure staff (e.g., pregnant, key employees and employees who travel).

    AFTER AN OUTBREAK

    • Ways to ensure that employees and customers have fully recovered before they are allowed back into the workplace.
    • Rehabilitation for sick employees returning to the workplace.

    Communication with employees and flexibility on enforcing requirements imposed on employees under their contract of employment will be important in maintaining employee relations and reducing anxiety and panic during an outbreak Therefore, subject to local legal obligations and requirements, and depending on the circumstances, employers may wish to:

    • Discuss with staff the possibility of a workplace closure prior to closing.
    • Allow employees to take annual leave or unpaid leave once sick leave has been exhausted.
    • Allow employees to work from home.
    • Explore salary reduction or unpaid leave as an alternative to termination of employment where business has slowed down.

    Employers should make visitors to its offices aware of any health and safety hazards associated with entering the workplace before any intended visit, where reasonably practicable.

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    Related Articles

    For more information relevant to Coronavirus COVID-19, please visit our website.

     

    This publication by Mayer Brown provides information and comments on legal issues and developments that may be of interest to our clients and friends. The foregoing is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject matter covered and is not intended to provide legal advice. Readers should seek legal advice before taking any action with respect to the matters discussed herein.