Acas has published guidance on handling coronavirus at work to help employers and their staff understand their rights.
The guidance includes tips on how to handle sick pay, staff in quarantine and staff who do not want to come into work due to fears over catching the coronavirus. The advice also gives tips for employers if the virus spreads widely in the UK or if a business needs to shut temporarily.
A workplace’s normal sick pay policies apply if someone has coronavirus. But if someone is not sick and their employer tells them not to come into work then they should get their usual pay.
There’s no legal obligation for an employer to pay someone who is not sick but cannot work as they have been told by a medical expert to self-isolate or have had to go into quarantine. Acas’ advice, however, is that it’s good practice for an employer in this situation to treat it as sick leave and follow their usual sick leave policy or offer the employee the option to take the period as paid annual leave.
If an employee does not want to go into work due to concerns around catching coronavirus, then employers should listen to their concerns and offer reassurance. Options to consider could include flexible working arrangements such as homeworking and allowing them to take some time off as holiday or unpaid leave.
If coronavirus spreads more widely in the UK, Acas advice is that employers should:
• make sure staff contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
• make sure managers are clear on workplace processes such as sickness and absence policies
• implement NHS advice on hygiene such as encouraging everyone to wash their hands  regularly and ensuring there are clean places to wash hands with soap and water
• give out hand sanitisers and tissues to staff and encourage their use
Employers should also plan in case they need to close their workplace temporarily. Considerations should include:
• asking staff who have work laptops or mobile phones to take them home so that they can work there
• arranging paperwork tasks that can be done at home for staff who do not work on computers
• making sure staff have a way to communicate with their employer and work colleagues

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