COVID-19 doesn’t only affect stock levels in high street stores, it will also affect employees. Are you worried about not being paid sick leave? Are you unable to work from home and want your employer to create safeguards within the workplace? Are your children now staying at home and making it impossible to go into work? Read more on the 5 ways that COVID-19 effects employees.
- Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) Entitlement
Many employees’ critical worry is what to do when the salary or wage stops. The law states that employers should pay ‘Statutory Sick Pay’ (SSP) to employees that meet the eligibility conditions, the conditions being: you have been off sick for more than 4 days in a row (including non-working days), you earn at least £118.00 per week before tax, they have notified their employer within any deadline set by the employer or within 7 days. Employees and workers may be entitled to receive any SSP due if they self-isolate because of the coronavirus.
According to the ACAS guidance article on this topic, SSP is approximately £94.25 per week and can be paid for up to 28 weeks and must be paid from the fourth day of sickness (the first 3 days of sickness do not have to be paid) although most employers will pay full salary for the first 7 days (check your contracts of employment!). Employees are advised to immediately self-isolate if they, have COVID-19 or its symptoms, someone in your household has its symptoms or, they have been instructed to self-isolated by a doctor or NHS 111. And so, you should be fully aware of the financial tools available to you, as well as any statutory entitlement that you may have with respect to your salary. Do ask your employers about their sick policy in light of the current crisis. The employer may have relaxed its policy or changed it altogether.
- Remote working – (working from home)
Where possible, it is recommended that employees should work from home; so, if the nature of your work can be conducted from home e.g. computer-based work, telephone based work etc. This is what you should collaborate with your employer to achieve. After all, statistics show that employees are more productive when remote working from the office!
Arrangements can be made that allow you to access files, emails and documents necessary to complete your work from the comfort of your home (also known as reasonable adjustments), this allows you to maintain social distancing, avoiding public transport and the coughing commuters that may be on it. So… sit at your desk or dining table with a hot cup of tea and a plate of your favourite biscuits whilst still being able to rule the world and continue your plans for world domination (a.k.a replying to emails and completing your work so your boss doesn’t kill you).
It’s a win-win situation, you can undertake all the work that you have to do without leaving the comfort of your home and you’ll have one very satisfied employer.
- Asking for certain requirements to be met if you cannot work from home
If you working in an environment where it is not possible for you to work from home and your employer expects you to commute your workplace e.g. retail workers, hospital industry staff etc. there may be some arrangements that you can collaborate to achieve with your employer that will allow you to continue your commute whilst lowering your risk of contracting COVID-19.
You may be able to discuss with your employer to change your start and finish times so that you can avoid the rush hour madness; or if you hold a driving licence, and have a car available then your employer may be able to arrange parking space to be reserved for you so that you don’t have to navigate the jungle of public transport.
Any arrangements that you wish to be made will have to be discussed with your employers who will determine if they are able to realistically provide you with these arrangements (also known as reasonable adjustments) so that you can still commute into work and protect yourself from COVID-19.
School closures will have an effect on employees’ working arrangements and may result in more employees being unable to attend work; and employers having to desperately find alternative staffing arrangements.
If you find that you need to take time off work because the kids are now at home, there may be a couple of arrangements that you can make with your employer. One of those arrangements is negotiating for ‘time off for dependants.’ The law does not actually state how much time or how many times an employee can take ‘time off for dependants’ at the moment, however it does state that it should be ‘reasonable’; one of the downsides to ‘time off for dependants’ is that unless your employer states otherwise, then the time off will be unpaid. The second arrangement, if your employer agrees, is you taking holiday leave.
- Symptoms in the workplace
If you find that you are beginning to show symptoms of COVID-19 whilst you are at your workplace there are steps that you should follow in order to aim to prevent the spread of those symptoms to colleagues or others within your workplace, because you also owe a duty of care towards your colleagues to ensure a safe working environment.
Therefore, you should notify your employer immediately that you are showing symptoms and request to be sent home. Follow and/or implement high level and stringent hygiene standards in your workplace, such as wearing disposable gloves so that work surfaces do not become contaminated, cough or sneeze into a tissue and then immediately throw it in the bin or if a tissue is not on standby then to cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow and if possible, use a separate bathroom to a bathroom that your colleagues or others may use.