Covid 19 Precautions and Advice

  1. Government advice and precautions for employers
  2. Advice from NFU for employers
  3. Movement of staff

Government advice and precautions for employers

  • 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 advice to stay at home
  • employees should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
  • frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products
  • employees will need your support to adhere to the recommendation to stay at home to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to others
  • those who follow advice to stay at home will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day of their absence from work
  • employers should use their discretion concerning the need for medical evidence for certification for employees who are unwell. This will allow GPs to focus on their patients
  • if evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online, and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website
  • employees from defined vulnerable groups should be strongly advised and supported to stay at home and work from there if possible

When am I allowed to leave the house?

You should only leave the house for very limited purposes:

  • shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible
  • one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household
  • any medical need, including to donate blood, avoid or escape risk of injury or harm, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person
  • travelling for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home

Advice from NFU for employers

What guidance is there for employers?

As the situation is changing all the time with more news and guidance it is very much a case of “watch this space”. Employers should be communicating with their workforce about what steps are being taken and ask employees to tell them if they are planning to travel to or have returned from affected areas or have come into contact with others who have, or if they have any symptoms or a persistent cough or fever, or live with someone who has symptoms etc. 

  • ACAS have issued guidance for employers here. This is now being reviewed daily and updated as necessary.
  • There is also NHS guidance available for anybody concerned about steps they can take to look after themselves and others here.
  • The government has produced guidance and advice for the public which is updated daily at 2pm here. In addition, a new email alert service has been set up for the public to sign up to here.
  • There is also a summary webpage on the Gov.UK website here.
  • If self-isolation is necessary there is guidance on who should self-isolate and how to do this properly as it involves more than simply staying at home – see the NHS website.

The Prime Minister or other senior ministers will be making daily televised broadcasts with any updates on guidance or law changes. 

In addition there is online guidance specifically for employers and businesses on Gov.UK here.

One of the key pieces of advice is to keep in contact with your employees no matter what reason they may be away from the workplace, so that you can keep them updated with any developments or changes affecting their employment and to offer support where you are able to do so.

What do I do if an employee becomes unwell at work or has coronavirus?

If an employee is unwell at work and displays symptoms of the coronavirus they should be sent home immediately and told to use the NHS Online Coronavirus service: for further advice. The NHS 111 service should only be used where support is not available online. Try to avoid them in coming into contact with others in the workplace and to avoid touching anything if they can and to use a separate bathroom to the rest of those who may be in the same workplace.

Your normal sick pay entitlements will apply in both of these cases.

If there are no alternatives such as home working or agreeing to take holiday or giving advance notice of holiday, and you tell your employees not to attend work as a precaution even though there may be work available, then they will be entitled to their full pay for the period of closure. In some very limited cases there may be an express right in their contract of employment to send employees home without pay but this will depend upon the exact wording in the contract, so it is essential that you take advice from CallFirst before deciding not to give full pay.

What if coronavirus is impacting my business and there has been a downturn in work, or the business has been forced to close?

You could consider making use of holiday, either by agreement or by giving advance notice where this is possible. Employers have the right to require employees and workers to take annual leave at a specific time, so long as they have given twice as much notice as the amount of leave they want them to take. Agreed flexible working may also help matters.

For more information about whether you operate a business which the Government have forced to close please visit this page on and also the NFU’s online advice, which can be found here: Coronavirus: Advice on premises and businesses to close.

Movement of staff

Should I stay at home or go to work?

You may travel for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home.

Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services such as train and bus drivers.

Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.

I’m not a critical worker and I can’t work from home. What should I do?

If you cannot work from home then you can still travel to work. This is consistent with the Chief Medical Officer’s advice.

Critical workers are those who can still take their children to school or childcare. This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work – if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work provided you cannot work from home.

Anyone who has symptoms or is in a household where someone has symptoms should not go to work and should self-isolate.

How can I find out if my work is essential or not?

The government is not saying only people doing “essential” work can go to work. Anyone who cannot work from home can still go to work.

Separately, there is a list of critical workers who can still take their children to school or childcare. Provision has been prioritised for these workers.

Every worker – whether critical or not – should work from home if they can but may otherwise travel to work.

We have also asked certain businesses where people gather, such as pubs and most shops, to close. Separate guidance has been published on this.


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