Coronavirus advice for employers

Updated: Mar 21, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said people should work from home where possible as part of a range of stringent new measures to tackle the coronavirus outbreak, which include prohibiting the opening of Cafes, Pubs and Nightclubs.

Daily Briefing –financial support for employers to keep people in work

At yesterday’s daily briefing (20th March), Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled an “unprecedented” set of financial measures to support the UK economy and employers through the coronavirus pandemic.

The government will pay the wages of employees unable to work due to the coronavirus pandemic, in a radical move aimed at protecting people's jobs.

It will pay 80% of salary for staff who are kept on by their employer, covering wages of up to £2,500 a month.

The "unprecedented" measures will stop workers being laid off due to the crisis, chancellor Rishi Sunak said.

Firms have warned the virus could see them collapse, wiping out thousands of jobs, as life in the UK is put on hold.

Mr Sunak said closing pubs and restaurants would have a "significant impact" on businesses.

It is understood that the wage subsidy will apply to firms where bosses have already had to lay off workers due to the coronavirus, as long as they are brought back into the workforce and instead granted a leave of absence.

The chancellor said the move would mean workers should be able to keep their jobs, even if their employer could not afford to pay them.

He said they were "unprecedented measures for unprecedented times."

"I know that people are worried about losing their jobs, about not being able to pay the rent or mortgage, about not having enough set by for food and bills... to all those at home right now, anxious about the days ahead, I say this: you will not face this alone," Mr Sunak added

The wages cover, which relates to gross pay, will be backdated to the start of March and last for three months, but Mr Sunak said he would extend the scheme for longer "if necessary".

The scheme, which will be run by HMRC, is expected to make the first grants to businesses "within weeks", a Treasury spokeswoman said.

Recent developments

Britons urged to avoid non-essential travel abroad

British nationals should avoid all non-essential foreign travel to tackle the spread of coronavirus, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised. The travel restrictions will be in place for 30 days initially but could be extended, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the House of Commonson 17 March.

Mr Raab said the decision came after stringent social measures to tackle the virus were announced.New government structures to coordinate response to coronavirusThe Prime Minister has set up new ministerial structures to coordinate, prioritise and respond to the coronavirus pandemic across government. Four new implementation committees focusing on health, public sector preparedness, economy and International response, will feed into a new daily C-19 meeting, which will be chaired by the Prime Minister.Recognising coronavirus presents unique challenges economically, internationally and across a wide range of sectors, the four implementation committees are:The implementation committees will regularly meet with key representatives from relevant sectors to inform their decision making.Healthcare: chaired by the Health Secretary to focus on the preparedness of the NHS, notably ensuring capacity in the critical care system for those worst affected, the medical and social package of support for those to whom we will be providing the new shielding regime;General Public Sector: chaired by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to look at preparedness across the rest of the public and critical national infrastructure, excluding the NHS;Economic and Business: chaired by the Chancellor, with the Business Secretary as deputy chair, to consider economic and business impact and response, including supply chain resilience. It will also coordinate roundtables with key sectors to be chaired by relevant Secretaries of State;International: chaired by the Foreign Secretary, to consider our international response to the crisis through the G7, G20 and other mechanisms, including like-minded groups, and the UK five-point plan.

Emergency bill to strengthen coronavirus (COVID-19) response plans

Emergency measures to give ministers powers to take the right action at the right time to respond effectively to the progress of the coronavirus outbreak will be introduced to Parliament this week, the Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

The measures in the coronavirus bill are temporary, proportionate to the threat, will only be used when strictly necessary and will be in place for as long as required to respond to the situation.See below for more details.

Other developments:

People over the age of 70Other adults who would normally be advised to have the flu vaccine (such as those with chronic diseases);Pregnant women.

British engineering firms have been called on to switch to making medical ventilators to help efforts to cope with the virus, which causes the disease Covid-19;The government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that, despite the upcoming Mother’s Day celebration, the over-70s should avoid having Sunday lunch with their families;He also advised people taking painkillers to use paracetamol instead of ibuprofen, after French health officials indicated anti-inflammatory drugs could worsen the virus – a suggestion Sir Patrick said “may or may not be right”;The government is to grant permission for pubs and restaurants to operate as takeaways as part of coronavirus response. Click herefor more information;The Euro 2020 football tournament has been postponed.Chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty advises that the group of people who should take “particular care to minimise their social contact” are:

Health and wellbeing considerations for home working and self-isolation

Many businesses have begun to embrace the idea of flexible working and working from home and, in the current climate, more and more of us may find ourselves plunged into doing so for longer than the one to two days a week, which employers and employees adapt to fairly easily, potentially leading to increased work-related stress and mental health conditions for employers.

It is predicted that by 2020, half of UK’s workforce will work from home, according to the Office for National Statistics. SHP, Barbour EHS and The Healthy Work Company have compiled a home working hub to provide research, case studies, videos and resources to enable you to lead this transition in a way which safeguards the health and wellbeing of your teams and maximises the opportunity to embrace new ways of working for the future and how to maintain a positive mental health and limit stress, as well as helpting to create a healthy workplace for individuals.

COVID-19: stay at home guidance

Public Health England has issued stay at home guidance for:

People with symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus, and do not require hospital treatment, who must remain at home until they are well;Those living in households with someone who shows symptoms that may be caused by coronavirus.

How do I know if I have coronavirus?

BBC News’ Health and Science Reporter, Laura Foster, takes a look in this short video.

Travel plans

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its guidance for British people travelling and living overseas following the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), updating the section ‘Travel Checklist’under the sub-heading“Before you go”.

Latest figures

According to the World Health Organization’s latest Situation Report [17 March 2020], there are:

Global cases

179,112 confirmed;7,426 deaths.

European Region

64,189 confirmed;3 108 deaths.

Figures from Worldometer show:


1,950 confirmed;71 deaths.


292 confirmed;2 deaths.

Other relate