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What is the coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world. This strain, covid-19, is a new strain of coronavirus first identified in January 2020.
What are the symptoms?
The following symptoms may develop in the 14 days after exposure to someone who has covid-19 infection:
- A cough
- A high temperature
- Shortness of breath
- Please note – if you have a runny nose and sputum, you have a common cold.
If you are worried about symptoms, please call NHS 111 or go to the NHS 111 coronavirus advice website. Do not go directly to your GP or other healthcare environment.
What’s the best way to prevent the spread of covid-19?
- Wash your hands often with soap (or soap substitutes) and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser. This is particularly important after using public transport.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin. You can download a ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’ poster (PDF, 940KB) for your workplace from the NHS.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environment.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Should employees take sick leave?
- There is no need for most staff or volunteers to avoid the workplace.
- The government has listed high risk areas/countries by category 1 (highest risk areas) and category 2 areas.
- Employees who are symptomless but have returned from category 1 areas within the last 14 days should self-isolate for 14 days from their return.
- Employees who have returned from a category 2 area within the last 14 days and who develop symptoms should self-isolate.
- Employees who are recommended to self-isolate are entitled to sick leave but not necessarily sick pay, though you may well want to provide this anyway as a matter of being a good employer.
- If employees are sick with the virus then they would qualify for Statutory Sick Pay subject to meeting eligibility requirements.
- Further advice on employee sick leave and sick pay entitlements can be found on the Acas website.
- Our HR consultancy Trusted Supplier Croner has also compiled answers to frequently asked questions about covid-19, including self-isolation and sick pay.
Should we cancel events?
- Currently the advice is for most people to continue to go to work, school and other public places.
- If your charity is planning events which will bring together large numbers of people, keep your plans under review. If your events depend on volunteers, be aware that some may prefer to stay home.
- If you are hosting a formal meeting, such as an AGM, plan for reduced attendance or the need to move locations and times meetings.
- Refer to your organisation’s governing document to see what it says about remote participation and quorum.
- Check cancellation policies for venue bookings you’ve made or are about to make.
- Further advice on planning formal meetings can be found on the Bates Wells website.
What should organisations do to protect staff, volunteers and visitors?
- Information: Provide clear information using communication channels including posters and email.
- Handwashing facilities: Handwashing facilities should be available and well supplied. More regular handwashing may require more supplies. Provide hand sanitiser, tissues and cleaning products around your buildings for staff and visitors. GOV.UK has published clear and printable instructions on handwashing techniques (PDF, 130KB) which can be displayed around the workplace.
- Cleaning regimes: Viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to eight hours. Frequently clean key areas including keyboards and door handles.
- There is government advice on social care and educational settings you may want to review if they apply to your organisation.
- Support staff working from home: Staff and volunteers may be required to work from home, particularly if impacted by school closures. Consideration should be given to the infrastructure, equipment and processes required to allow staff to work remotely. These considerations include secure, remote access to servers, video conferencing facilities and guidance on home working.
- Manage travel risks: Keep up to date on current travel advice. The Foreign Office has published information and advice on travel safety and the World Health Organisation is providing updated covid-19 travel advice.
- Review travel arrangements. Is travel necessary? Are there possible alternatives such as video conferencing? Maintain updated and clear advice for staff travelling.
- If UK staff or volunteers are working overseas consider what access they have to health care services.
- Ensure emergency contact details are up to date
- For specific HR-related coronavirus enquires, NCVO members can contact Croner