March 20, 2020

COVID-19 Coronavirus FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the Coronavirus COVID-19 (FAQ).

Q1 – Where do I find guidance around the possibility of closing an office or construction site, in the case of a positive test result? 

The current advice is that workplaces do not require to be closed. Even when a known infection has occurred in a workplace the current Government advice is not to automatically close the workplace but to work with the local Health Protection Teams who will advise on the necessary cleaning requirements. Were appropriate, investigate what you might need to do to facilitate widespread remote working for as many employees as possible. If you have an employee with a new, continuous cough or high temperature, they should go home and self-isolate.

Q2 – Should we wear facemasks? 

Outside of clinical workplaces the use of facemasks should be discouraged, there is little evidence to suggest they provide anything other than short term protection and are unlikely to be properly face fit tested. There is some evidence to suggest that prolonged use may increase the risk by trapping the virus in the material of the mask.

Q3 – How long does the Coronavirus (COVID-19) stay on surfaces? 

It has been reported that the virus can remain on hard surfaces for up to 72 hours although the risk reduces after 24 hours and again after 48 hours. Regular cleaning and basic hygiene will reduce the risk in most situations.

Q4 – If we have customers or suppliers visiting from the areas which are affected with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), should we take what precautions or cancel the visit? 

Government Guidance is summarised here

Some businesses have taken the step of asking overseas visitors to declare information before the visit as part of a risk assessment

Now the government has moved to introduce Social Distancing it makes sense to limit any visitors from visiting the premises keep up to date with the government guidance here.

Some businesses have taken the step of asking overseas visitors to declare information before the visit as part of a risk assessment.

Q5 – Should we be preventing people coming into work if they have the symptoms but haven’t been abroad? 

Yes, new government guidance is for anyone with symptoms to stay at home for at least 7 days and anyone in a household where a member is showing symptoms to stay at home for 14 days.

Q6 – Where can I find the list of restricted countries or areas of travel? 

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This advice took effect immediately on 17 March and applies initially for a period of 30 days.

Q7 – Are there any special considerations regarding sick pay or obligations to persons classified as disabled? 

The government have made it clear if a worker has been instructed by either NHS 111 or a Doctor to self-isolate they are entitled to SSP; if the contract of employment allows for contractual sick pay, this should also apply. If (due to a specific medical condition such as an auto immune disorder for example) you require self-isolation above and beyond the government guidance, this is effectively a medical suspension and full pay should be paid. Treating your employees consistently here is key, especially if you want to create your own internal policy.

The Chancellor has announced in the budget that companies with fewer than 250 companies will be reimbursed for the costs of paying Statutory Sick Pay for up to 14 days per employee.

Q8 – After a 7-day self-certifying period, what other forms of medical evidence apart from a doctor’s note can an employee provide to the employer if they’re not able to meet with their GP? 

NHS 111 will be able to email the employee with a confirmation and this is acceptable as a substitute for a GP fit note.

Q9 – How often should a risk assessment be done on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) at work? 

The Risk Assessment will need to be dynamic as the global situation is evolving and the government advice is changing on a regular basis.

**Information in this blog was correct at the time of writing, however with government and legislation changes happening daily some of this may now be out of date.**

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About the author

Philip Barker

About the author

Philip Barker

Philip has worked for Moorepay for over nine years, starting as a Health & Safety Consultant in February 2008 before taking up the position of Consultancy Manager in January 2015. Coming from a retail background, both as a store manager and health & safety professional, he already had a good cross industry experience. Working at Moorepay has provided an opportunity to broaden both knowledge and experience across a wide range of industry sectors. Philip started his health & safety career after a number of years managing retail stores and holds a HNC in Environmental Health Studies, a Diploma in Environmental Policy and a NEBOSH Diploma.

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