Coronavirus Q&A - What you need to know

Our employment law advisers are monitoring the impact of COVID-19 in the workplace. This Q&A is updated as and when new information and guidance is released.

Scroll down for more information on what you can do and what support is available if coronavirus is having an impact on your business.

For further advice, NFU Employment Service members can contact our Employment Specialists on 0370 840 0234.

Guidance and information is changing regularly, contacting our Legal Helpline will ensure that you are receiving advice on the current legal and best practice position.

This page was updated on 11 April 2022.

Click on a question to show its answer.

The pace at which the news and law developed at the start of the pandemic has significantly slowed down, but we are clearly not out of this situation, and so there still needs to be a ‘watch this space’ approach for any further changes that may be brought in.

Employers should be communicating with their workforce about what steps are being taken and ask employees to tell them if they have any symptoms or have tested positive for Covid-19, or live with someone or are in a support bubble with someone who has symptoms etc.

As well as the information that we have included in this Q&A, we also have further guidance on our website: COVID-Secure - What you need to know.  

Acas have issued guidance for employers:

There is also NHS guidance available for anybody concerned about steps they can take to look after themselves and others:, including information on the most effective and best way to wash your hands:

There is an online coronavirus hub set up by the government here: where it is also possible to sign up for email alerts of any changes.

The Welsh Government have their own webpage with information for employers in Wales:

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.

At times, there will be differences between the rules and regulations in force in England and Wales.

The government have published a timetable for the lifting of restrictions in England as part of its ‘Living with Covid-19’ plan: 

From 24 February 2022:

  • There is no longer a legal obligation to self-isolate following a positive test. Those who test positive will be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least 5 full days and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received 2 negative test results on consecutive days.
  • Close contacts who are not fully vaccinated will no longer be required to self-isolate and there will be new guidance with what precautions to follow.
  • There is no longer a legal obligation for individuals to tell their employers when they are self-isolating.

From 17 March 2022:

  • The SSP rebate scheme will close. Employers have up to and including 24 March 2022 to submit any final claims or amend claims they’ve already submitted.

From 24 March 2022:

  • The Covid-19 provisions within the Statutory Sick Pay rules will no longer apply. Waiting days will apply in relation to those absent due to Covid-19. SSP will only be payable to those who are not capable of working.

From 1 April 2022:

  • There will be updated guidance setting out the ongoing steps that people with Covid-19 should take to minimise contact with other people. There will be specific guidance for those with weaker immune systems and are at higher risk of serious illness from Covid-19.
  • Free asymptomatic testing will end in England.
  • Risk assessments will no longer have to explicitly consider Covid-19.
  • The existing set of ‘Working Safely’ guidance will be replaced with new public health guidance.

Coronavirus Cases in the Workplace


It is no longer a legal requirement for an individual to self-isolate if they have tested positive for or have symptoms of coronavirus.

Government guidance for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection including Covid-19 states that a person with symptoms of a respiratory infection such as Covid-19 and who has a high temperature or does not feel well enough to go to work or carry out their normal activities, should stay at home. They should avoid contact with other people until they no longer have a temperature or until they no longer feel unwell.

Where a person has a positive test result, they should try to stay at home and avoid contact with others for 5 days after the day the test was taken.

At the end of this period, if they have a high temperature or feel unwell, they should continue to try to stay at home until they feel well enough to resume their normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature.

In both cases the guidance states try to work from home where possible. Where it is not possible, workers are encouraged to talk to their employers about what options may be available to them.

Now that free PCR and LFD tests have ended, there is no longer any recommendation to have a Covid-19 test in either case.

If an employee is unwell at work and displays symptoms of coronavirus, employers now have to make their own decision as to whether they should be sent home immediately or not.

Whether or not an employer chooses to mirror the government guidance, they will need to decide on what steps they will follow, if any, when an employee appears to have coronavirus.


It is no longer a legal requirement for an individual to self-isolate if they have tested positive for or have symptoms of Covid-19. The guidance from the Welsh Government for people with Covid-19 states a person should self-isolate for 5 full days if they have symptoms of or test positive for Covid-19.

If an employee or worker has been diagnosed as having coronavirus (COVID-19) and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work, it must be reported as a case of disease in accordance with Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR).

More information is available here.

There is no obligation to automatically close the workplace where an employee has attended the workplace and is suspected or known to have coronavirus. There is no longer any need to report any outbreak to your local health protection team.

Employers should follow the latest guidance for reducing the spread of respiratory infections, including Covid-19, in the workplace.

There is no workplace guidance stating that employers should notify any close workplace contacts of the person who has tested positive and advise them to follow the relevant guidance. Employers will need to make their own decision about what procedures they will follow.


There is no longer an obligation for workers to tell their employer that they are or should be self-isolating or following any stay at home guidance.

Employers should decide if they will have their own policy requiring workers to tell them if any stay at home (England) or self-isolation (Wales) guidance applies to them. Where there is such a policy, employers must ensure it is reasonable and has been clearly communicated to their workforce.    


The guidance has had a change of terminology and now refers to staying at home, rather than self-isolation.

Individuals should stay at home when they have:

  • Symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as Covid-19 and
    • they have a high temperature or
    • do not feel well enough to go to work or carry out normal activities
  • Tested positive for Covid-19.


Guidance refers to when people ‘should’ self-isolate. Previously it had referred to ‘must’, when it was a legal requirement to do so. It is now only guidance.

Individuals should self-isolate when they have:


Where a person has symptoms of Covid-19, with either a high temperature or because they feel unwell, they should try to stay at home until they no longer have a high temperature or until they feel well again.

When a person has tested positive for Covid-19, they should try to stay at home for 5 full days after the day the test was taken. If there is still a high temperature or they still feel unwell, they should try to continue to stay at home until they feel well enough to carry out normal activities or no longer have a high temperature.

The guidance does not suggest a need for any further testing when staying at home.


Self-isolation should be for a minimum of 5 full days. Day 0 is the day of the test or when there were first symptoms, whichever occurred first.

An LFT test should be taken on day 5. If it is positive, self-isolation needs to continue. If it is negative, another test can be taken on day 6. If this is also negative, self-isolation can end so long as the individual does not have a high temperature or feels unwell.

If the day 5 or 6 tests are positive, tests should be taken until there are 2 consecutive negative tests or until day 10, whichever is sooner. Self-isolation can end then unless there is a high temperature or the individual feels unwell. 

Sick Pay and Self-Isolation

From 24 March 2022 the Covid-19 provisions within Statutory Sick Pay rules no longer apply. Waiting days apply in relation to those absent due to Covid-19.

SSP will only be payable to those who are not capable of working as per normal SSP rules.

There is no legal obligation to pay full pay where an employee is at home but they are not unwell. It is clear that an employer need only pay SSP where an employee qualifies for it.

It is entirely at your discretion to pay anything more than what you are legally obliged to pay to an employee who is self-isolating or following stay at home guidance.

If you choose to exercise discretion, it should be made clear how long the additional payments will last for and under what circumstances they will be paid, otherwise there is a risk that custom and practice will deem those additional payments to become a contractual right of the employee for the future.

If your employee is off sick with coronavirus then AWSP should be paid as normal.

Where your employee is following stay at home/self-isolation guidance, but they are not unwell they would not be entitled to any AWSP/SSP. Any other payment will depend upon your policy. 

Test and Trace/Test, Trace, Protect

The NHS Test and Trace service was launched in May 2020. Soon after this, NHS Wales launched their own similar version, called NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect.


Routine contact tracing in England ended on 24 February 2022.


The Test, Trace, Protect service will contact people if they:

  • Have tested positive for Covid-19. They will be asked to share information on their recent contacts.
  • Are a confirmed contact of someone who has tested positive.

There is specific guidance for employers in the Covid-19 workplace testing framework.

Any non-household contacts notified by the NHS service will not need to self-isolate. They will receive a formal notification (either a phone call, letter, email or text message) advising them to be vigilant for Covid-19 symptoms and other steps to consider. This advice should be followed for 10 days after being in contact with the person who tested positive.

If it is likely that it is working with others which has triggered these notifications, employers should consider what further actions could be taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and review what steps they have taken in making the workplace COVID-19 secure. For further information on this please see – ‘'COVID-secure' What you need to know.

Designated venues no longer need to display an official NHS QR code poster to enable customers and visitors to scan with the NHS COVID-19 app.

Testing for Coronavirus

Free LFD and PCR testing ended (with limited exceptions) in England on 1 April 2022.

In Wales, free tests are available for those with symptoms of Covid-19, or who have Covid-19 and want to check if their test result is still positive after day 5.

Testing is not compulsory for anybody, and employers don’t have the automatic right to insist that their employees are tested, or that employees who have been tested share their results with their employer. An employer may be able to argue that being tested and a requirement to share results is a reasonable instruction from a health and safety perspective, and any unreasonable failure to follow that instruction could be a misconduct matter. This in turn may result in disciplinary action but investigation of the facts will be essential, including why the employee refused. In many cases it is not likely to amount to gross misconduct but if an employer is considering any disciplinary action, including dismissal, they should seek advice from CallFirst in the first instance.

If an employee shares their test results with their employer this could be classed as data relating to their health and would constitute special category data.

This type of data is personal data that needs more protection because it is sensitive.

In order to lawfully process special category data, you must identify both a lawful basis under Article 6 of the GDPR and a separate condition for processing under Article 9.

Employers will need to ensure that this is covered by their privacy notices and that a data protection impact assessment has been completed.

The ICO has guidance with more detail on the key things employers need to consider regarding data and Covid-19 measures. This states where employers have previously relied upon legal obligation as their lawful bases for processing data, this will need to be reviewed if the legislation that has been relied upon has expired.

Only the minimum data necessary should be collected and it must be kept secure.

Employees should be made aware what health data will be collected, what it will be used for, who it will be shared with and how long it will be kept for.

On 1 April 2022, in England, free asymptomatic LFD testing and free PCR symptomatic testing ended (with limited exceptions). Employers wishing to provide a test to staff may offer a private provision, in accordance with the latest GOV.UK Coronavirus: testing guidance for employers. Alternatively, employers may require staff to obtain their own tests.

Now that LFD tests are more readily available for the public to purchase, employers may want to review their policies on testing and who is responsible for supplying/funding the cost of testing. 

If you are contemplating arranging your own testing for your employees, whether they have symptoms or not, you are strongly advised to read and follow all of the published guidance.

If you are in Wales, see GOV.WALES Covid-19: workplace testing framework guidance.

For more information on COVID-19 testing in the workplace and the implications this may have for employers, please see our separate Q&A: COVID-19 testing and vaccinations in the workplace.

Work Shortages

This should be treated the same as any other work shortage and you should look at whether you have the right to implement short term solutions such as lay off or short time working or more longer-term plans such as redundancy. The HELPLINE can provide advice and there is detail on our website concerning redundancies.

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.

Financial Help for Employers

Furlough is a new concept in UK employment law but it means the employee is on a period of leave. At the start of the pandemic the Government announced a new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) where employers were able to agree with their employees to change their work status to furloughed and the Government would contribute towards the cost of the furlough wages. The scheme finally ended on 30 September 2021. If you have any queries about making claims for periods of furlough up until 30 September 2021 or amendments to any existing claims, please see the latest guidance from HMRC.

Measures are being announced regularly and more detail from the government can be found on support for business and self-employed people during coronavirus.

The renewed SSP rebate scheme closed on 17 March 2022. Employers had up to and including 24 March 2022 to submit any final claims or amend claims they’ve already submitted.

HMRC have published a page so that you can Check if you can claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus. This explains   how employers will be able to recover coronavirus-related SSP through the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme.

Employers are able to submit their claim online.

Claims under the old scheme that ended on 30th September 2021 must have been made by 31 December 2021.

Annual Leave and Quarantine after Foreign Travel

Normally annual leave must be taken in the holiday year in which it has been accrued with no right to carry it forward to another year, subject to limited exceptions such as sick leave or family friendly leave. Due to the impact of coronavirus on employers the Government has amended legislation so that all workers who have not been able to take all of their annual leave due to the pandemic, will be able to carry up to 4 weeks of leave over into the next two leave years. The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 will allow this carry forward where it is not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some or all of their leave due to coronavirus. It is already possible to carry forward 1.6 weeks’ worth of leave into the following leave year by agreement and this remains unchanged by the new regulations.

Bank holidays can be included in the 4 weeks carried forward. If an employee leaves employment during the two years where leave has been carried forward they will be entitled to receive a payment in lieu of the balance of leave owing.

The Government has produced a new online guide: Holiday entitlement and pay during coronavirus (COVID-19) which gives an explanation of how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the coronavirus pandemic and where it differs from the standard holiday entitlement and pay guidance, including how furloughed employees may be affected.

From 18 March 2022, all Covid-19 travel restrictions in England and Wales were lifted.

This means that all travellers, regardless of vaccination status or where they have travelled from, are no longer required to:

  • complete a passenger locator form
  • take pre-departure test
  • take day 2 after arrival test
  • quarantine (at home or in hotel facility)

Therefore, as there are no restrictions in place, there is no need for any exemptions for certain workers.

All seasonal agricultural, horticultural workers and pork butchers will be able to travel to their place of work and stay where they choose without Covid-19 restrictions.

There will be no need for employers to keep workers within certain cohorts.

See the UK government Guidance on Travel to England from another country during coronavirus (COVID-19) and Welsh government Guidance on International travel to and from Wales: coronavirus for the latest updates.

Right to Work Checks and National Insurance Numbers

Normally when you take on new workers, you have to carry out in person document checks to ensure that they have the right to work in the UK as part of the recruitment process. Now due to the measures in place to deal with the virus this means this is not always possible. 

Following NFU and business lobbying, the government relaxed the rules for right to work checks during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow them to be carried out remotely. This move is welcome as it is a pragmatic solution to recruitment issues, whether this is for seasonal work or to fill more permanent positions.

It is important to note that this is a temporary process in place until 30 September 2022 (this is a further extension from the original end date announced as 16 May 2021).

The process that will now need to be followed as from 30 March 2020 until 30 September 2022 is to:   

  • Ask the worker to submit a scanned copy or a photo of their original documents via email or using a mobile app 
  • Arrange a video call with the worker – ask them to hold up the original documents to the camera and check them against the digital copy of the documents 
  • Record the date you made the check and mark it as “adjusted check undertaken on [insert date] due to COVID-19” 
  • If the worker has a current Biometric Residence Permit or Biometric Residence Card or status under the EU Settlement Scheme you can use the online right to work checking service while doing a video call - the applicant must give you permission to view their details 
  • If the worker is unable to provide any documents you should use the Employer Checking Service.

These steps are only a temporary measure and will not provide any statutory defence to illegally employing a worker. It is still an offence to knowingly employ somebody who does not have the right to work in the UK. When the temporary adjustments were first announced, provision was also made to require employers to carry out retrospective checks within an 8-week period after the end of the temporary measures, however the requirement to make retrospective checks has been lifted.  There is now no need to carry out retrospective checks on those who had a COVID-19 adjusted check between 30 March 2020 and 30 September 2022 (inclusive).

More detail on right to work checks is available here:

At the start of the pandemic, DWP were not issuing national insurance numbers due to staff being redeployed elsewhere. DWP have since restarted applications for national insurance numbers, but only for certain applicants, there will still be some workers who are unable to get a national insurance number. Domestic workers are likely to have national insurance numbers, but migrant workers may not do so. The government have however confirmed that where a worker does not have a national insurance number, they can still start work. Employers in this position would just need to leave the national insurance number field blank on their real time information return.

Vulnerable Workers

Employers will need to ensure that all workers are included in their risk assessment and take action accordingly. For more details on this please see: Working safely during coronavirus: Advice on making your business ‘COVID-secure’.

Risk assessments should already have been completed for women of child bearing age including biological risks, such as Coronavirus, to them and/or their unborn child.

If a risk is identified as a result of Coronavirus then employers need to make adjustments to the workplace.

Where these options are not reasonable or possible then employers have a duty to suspend the woman on full pay.

If this happens to be within the last four weeks before the baby is due and the reason for the absence is wholly or partly pregnancy related this will automatically trigger the start of her maternity leave.

Shielding has been paused from 1 April 2021 in Wales and has now ended in England. The shielding program was originally brought in to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV). It aimed to minimise all interaction between those who are CEV and others.

People falling into this CEV group include:

  1. Solid organ transplant recipients
  2. People with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
    • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  3. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
  4. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
  5. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
  6. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.
  7. Adults with Down’s syndrome
  8. Adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (stage 5)
  9. Other people have also been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs. GPs and hospital clinicians have been provided with guidance to support these decisions.
  1. Those who have been identified through the COVID-19 Population Risk Assessment as potentially being at high risk of serious illness if they catch the virus.

Since 19 July 2021, the guidance for CEV people has been to follow the same advice as the rest of the population, but to think carefully about any other additional precautions people may wish to take. People are advised to manage their own conditions and take routine advice from their relevant health professionals, who know the needs of their individual patients best.

Those previously on the Shielded Patient List will have been sent a letter from the government in the to inform them of this decision.

The government will continue to assess the situation and the risks posed by Covid-19 and, based on clinical advice, will respond accordingly to keep the most vulnerable safe.

However, employers still have a legal responsibility to protect their employees and others from risks to their health and safety. You should be able to explain to your employees the measures you have in place to keep them safe at work. The Welsh Government have guidance for protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from coronavirus.

At the end of the shielding period, employers will need to discuss with affected employees what the best arrangements are, which could include:

  • working from home
  • return to the workplace where working from home is not possible, but only if the workplace is COVID-secure
  • unpaid leave
  • use of annual leave, although this is only a short-term solution.

Any employees covered by the Equality Act 2010 and classed as disabled will be entitled to the same duty of care applicable to all of your other employees, but there is also the additional requirement not to discriminate against these employees and to consider making reasonable adjustments. What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances but could include; working from home or sending an employee home who suffers with respiratory problems or has mental health issues and has increased anxiety levels due to their fear of coronavirus. Prioritising a disabled employee who is also classed as a vulnerable worker is likely to be a reasonable adjustment in many cases. Take advice from the HELPLINE on these sorts of queries.

Covid-19 itself is not automatically a disability. Whilst the majority of people make a full, speedy recover from the infection, for others, it can cause symptoms that can last many weeks or months afterwards, this is often referred to as ‘long Covid’.  It is therefore possible that those suffering with long Covid, could be covered by the Equality Act and classed as disabled.

Acas have produced guidance for employers and employees on how to manage long Covid within the workplace and whether it should be treated as a disability or not. If you have any cases of long Covid affecting your business, please contact the HELPLINE for further information.

Health and Safety


On 1 April 2022 the ‘Working safely during coronavirus’ was replaced with ‘Reducing the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, in the workplace’.

This guidance enables employers to understand how to reduce the risk of respiratory infections such as Covid-19 and flu in the workplace.

If you have any queries about making your workplace ‘COVID-19 secure’ please see our separate Q&A specifically dealing with these issues.


In Wales, the government have introduced a legal duty with regard to social distancing which will apply to any workplace, including homes, where work and repairs are being undertaken and outdoor spaces. The Welsh government have produced guidance for keeping ‘Wales safe at work’. The regulations in Wales mean that all businesses will have to take all reasonable measures to minimise risk of exposure to the virus on the premises.

Businesses in Wales can see advice from the government, including sector specific guidance, here:

If you have any queries about making your workplace ‘COVID-19 secure’ please see our separate Q&A specifically dealing with these issues.

Where you are already using PPE, such as face masks, in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so.

Workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

An alternative to a face mask is a face covering. A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible, it is not a replacement for other ways of managing risk. It just needs to cover your mouth and nose. Face coverings are not the same as the PPE used to manage risks like dust and spray in an industrial context, or by health and care workers. Supplies of PPE, including face masks, must continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace.

The English and Welsh Governments have taken different approaches as to whether face coverings should be compulsory and in what circumstances.


Requirements to wear face coverings by the public and staff in public facing areas in shops and on public transport were lifted from 27 January 2022.

Businesses will need to make their own decisions following risk assessments as to whether they will require their staff, customers or visitors to wear a face covering within the work place. Where a business is bound by obligatory face coverings or chooses to have its own requirements, they must continue to take account of any reasonable excuses for not wearing a face covering such as disability or risk of causing severe distress.  

See the government guidance on when to consider wearing a face covering or face mask.


Face coverings are a legal requirement in Wales only in health and care settings.

The requirement to wear face coverings in most indoor public places was removed from 28 February 2022.

The government strongly recommend that face coverings are still worn. Full details are on the Face coverings: guidance for public | GOV.WALES page.

There may be occasions where employers require their staff to wear a face covering in a place which is not open to the public if social distancing can’t be maintained.  

If your employees are employed in a setting where it is compulsory, either by law or by the rules of the business for them to wear a face covering and they refuse to wear one or are caught not wearing one you should establish if they have any legitimate reason for not wearing the face covering.

If an employee unreasonably refuses to wear a compulsory face covering it may be possible to take disciplinary action. Employers must take a reasonable approach and ensure that they have made it explicitly clear in writing when and where face coverings must be worn and also warned what possible consequences an employee may face for any breaches of a reasonable health and safety instruction like this.  As with any other type of possible disciplinary matter the alleged breach should be properly investigated before taking any further action. If you are contemplating a dismissal it is important that you contact the HELPLINE for advice on this approach before taking any action.

The same duty of care is owed to these people but there is no statutory obligation to pay them if they are ill or are self-isolating/following stay at home guidance, subject to the terms of any contract.

Throughout the course of the pandemic there has at times been guidance from the government to businesses that office workers should work from home where this was possible. The Welsh government guidance is that working from home remains important but is no longer a legal requirement. As from 19th January 2022, the government removed its advice to businesses in England to allow workers to work from home as part of the move back to ‘Plan A’ arrangements for the winter.

Many employers have allowed home working during the pandemic and will now allow it to continue either in its pure form or as part of a hybrid working arrangement.

What To Do If An Employee Refuses To Or Insists On Coming To Work?

You should discuss your concerns with the employee and consider what alternatives there may be such as working from home, annual leave or paid leave if you are willing to offer this.

As there is no legal obligation to follow government guidance, you should consider what your policy will be where the guidance is not being followed. If an employee is refusing to self-isolate or follow stay at home guidance contrary to law or government guidance, you should still encourage the employee to follow the NHS and Government guidance.

Ultimately if they refuse to stay at home and you are satisfied that they should be as per the guidance then you must decide if you want to send them home. If you send them home, tell them to follow the appropriate government guidance. Depending on the circumstances you may have to pay their full wage, please contact the HELPLINE for further advice in these circumstances. If they refuse to follow stay at home guidance, it is your choice whether you send them home or allow them to continue working.

In all cases you should encourage your employee to use and follow the advice on the NHS Online Coronavirus service: The NHS 111 service should only be used where no support is available online.

Currently there is no guidance advising that you should automatically close the workplace where an employee has attended the workplace and is suspected or known to have the coronavirus. Employers are advised to follow cleaning guidance: and you should refer to our 'COVID-secure' - what you need to know’ Q&A for further guidance.

If you have an employee who is worried about catching the coronavirus from others in the workplace you should listen carefully to their concerns and try to reassure them with the steps you are taking to make and keep the workplace safe. ACAS have suggested where someone still does not want to go to the workplace, where possible flexible working should be considered or annual leave or unpaid leave may be agreed where this is available, but an employer does not have to agree to this. For more information please see separate ‘COVID-19 Secure – What you need to know’ Q&As.

If an employee unreasonably refuses to attend work and they are not displaying any symptoms or have not been advised to self-isolate or follow stay at home guidance, it may be possible to take disciplinary action. The underlying message from government guidance is for employers to adopt a reasonable approach and that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace. As such; invoking a disciplinary process should be a last resort and where all other options have been genuinely and fully considered. Where an employee is dismissed or suffers any detriment for any steps or action they have taken (such as a refusal to work) based on their genuine belief that doing so would have left them or put them in serious and imminent danger, the employee would be entitled to make an employment tribunal claim. There is no minimum length of service needed for such a claim. It is important that you contact the HELPLINE for advice on this before taking any action.

This would be covered by the emergency time off for dependants leave where employees can take a reasonable period of unpaid leave to deal with an emergency such as this. Employers should think about what longer term options are available for employees such as home working, flexible working, annual leave or authorised unpaid leave.