Lindsey Atkins CertRP FREC heads up the Temporary Division at Plum Personnel and would like to share the latest guidance for temporary workers on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Not surprisingly, we have seen a rise in enquiries about the global issue of Coronavirus. Official government guidance is constantly being updated to keep up with developments. We want to ensure our clients, work-seekers and temporary workers are kept up-to-date and I would like to share with you guidance issued by the legal team at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).
Our policy is to ensure we keep you informed and follow official guidance. We ask you keep in mind that the coronavirus is a challenging health issue and the government and health experts are constantly reviewing the situation. As such, while this guidance is up to date at the time of writing – it will be updated as and when any changes are required.
We keep updated with the government guidance – this is a fast-moving area and the guidance is being updated daily.
Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice on the gov.uk website includes:
Advice from the FCO (foreign and commonwealth office) which particularly relates to anyone travelling to or back from countries and areas affected by the virus. An updated list of countries/areas that are affected and advice about actions to be taken when returning to the UK form those places.Guidance issued by Public Health England and the Department for Health.
ACAS has released guidance for employers - https://www.acas.org.uk/page-download/ and employees that can be referred refer to.
At the time of writing the common symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath or breathing difficulties.
The current guidance is to:
Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneezePut used tissues in the bin immediatelyWash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 secondsTry to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
As well as following the ‘useful links’ people are advised to contact the NHS 111 number if they feel unwell or if they may have been exposed to the Coronavirus.
You should NOT GO to the GP as you could spread the virus if you have it.
Statutory Sick Pay
As a Temporary Worker employed by Plum Personnel under a Contract for Services you are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you meet ALL OF THE QUALIFYING CRITERIA.
Currently, SSP applies ONLY if the you are actually sick and unable to work (due to illness or injury) but the current regulations also extends SSP to someone who is not unwell if they are abstaining from work
On the basis of being given a written notice issued under legislation;Because they are infectious or could reasonably be believed to be infectious or to have been in contact with an infected person; andThe infection is a disease which is subject to legal regulation for public health reasons.
The government has issued specific Coronavirus regulations which put measures in place to protect public health. Under the regulations a person can be directed to self-isolate because they could be infected or have been exposed to someone else who was infected by Coronavirus.
IF THE CONDITIONS ABOVE APPLY
A person will be treated as if they are unable to work due to sickness and therefore be eligible to receive SSP.
We will exercise discretion when requesting written evidence of sickness given that the current advice is to avoid going to their GP, and you may not be able to provide a sick note ('fit note') if told to self-isolate for 14 days.
On 11 March the government announced amendments to the qualifying criteria for SSP. It is now payable from the first day of sickness (rather than the fourth day) and sick notes will be issued by 111 rather than a GP.
We gain information regarding any health and safety measures that our clients have in place when you are working on a temporary assignment. We are updating our information to see if there are any new measures being implemented in relation to Coronavirus. For example, our clients could restrict who can come into the workplace.
We have an obligation to take certain steps if we are made aware that anyone who is a temporary worker is, or could be unsuitable for the role they are working in.
This could certainly include a situation where we are informed you have been or could have been exposed to Coronavirus. If we believe that you are unsuitable for an assignment, we are required to inform our client and end the assignment.
If we are not sure but think that you might be unsuitable, we will inform our client, investigate and If we conclude that you are unsuitable, we are required to end the assignment
We will work with you and our clients to consider their own policy if the decision is made that you are considered ‘unsuitable’ to continue working in the assignment, for example if you are employed in a medical/healthcare setting with service users who are at higher risk.
We will gain information from you and our client about potential exposure.
If you have travelled to an affected area
The countries and regions that are categorised as ‘affected areas’ are being updated regularly. We are checking the latest government guidance which countries have been affected and the latest guidance for travellers to those places.
At the time of writing, if you have returned from affected areas you should follow the government guidance and to stay away from their GP surgeries.
If a member you feel you may have been exposed - you should call 111 for medical advice.
If you do not want to come to work
Some people may be worried about catching Coronavirus and therefore unwilling to enter the workplace. Under your Contract for Services you could use your annual leave (holiday pay) to manage time away from assignments.
We will of course keep you updated as new information is released.
Lindsey Atkins CertRP FREC
Posted on Friday Mar 13