NICVA HR Guidance on COVID-19

16 Mar 2020 Alex Hastings    Last updated: 16 Mar 2020

This article contains signposting to sources of information regarding human resources during the coronavirus outbreak, as well as practical guidance on steps to take—for example, regarding absence and leave.

Sources of information

The above pages are being monitored and updated regularly in light of changing circumstances.

General guidance - what practical steps can employers take now?

  1. Ensure employee contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
  2. Remind employees about the importance of hygiene and regular handwashing
  3. Provide tissues and sanitiser (where hand washing facilities not immediately available, eg. in meeting rooms)
  4. Remind employees about absence reporting procedures and maintain accurate records of reasons for absence whether sickness or leave
  5. Revisit existing policies in the organisation on flexible working options, time off for caring for a dependent and sick leave and pay and look at contracts of employment for any particular clauses which may be relevant
  6. Review practices relating to remote working and accessibility
  7. Communicate with staff about the ongoing work of the organisation and any review of working practices
  8. Maintain regular contact with employees who are self-isolating whether working from home, or on sickness absence as per your organisational policy
  9. Seek employment law guidance from the organisation’s insurer about any employment decisions being considered as a result of COVID-19
  10. Keep up to date and in line with PHA employer guidance

The Department for Communities has issued useful guidance for staff and managers which we have adapted below for wider consideration on managing sickness and leave.

  • Absence reporting. Normal sick absence procedures should apply. If staff don't have COVID–19 symptoms and are otherwise well, they should attend work unless they have received medical advice to self -isolate.
  • Absence trigger points. If medical advice has confirmed that an employee’s symptoms are consistent with COVID-19, an organisation should be clear on its policy about whether the absence is discounted from absence policy trigger points or contractual sick pay.
  • Self isolating. If PHA guidance, NHS 111 or a GP advises that a staff member should self-isolate then the employee should follow this guidance. If they are symptom free and it is possible to make arrangements for them to work from home this should be considered and put in place.
  • Developing COVID-19 symptoms when home working. If a member of staff begins to display COVID-19 symptoms, sickness absence must be reported.
  • Developing COVID-19 symptoms at work. Follow the Guidance for Employers and Businesses
  • Caring responsibilities and unable to attend work due to school closures. Managers are expected to exercise reasonable discretion when dealing with requests for leave relating to COVID-19 based on their knowledge of the individual's circumstances. In these exceptional circumstances and if possible, homeworking arrangements can be considered in the first instance for the duration. A review of specific working patterns may also be considered. If homeworking is not possible other leave arrangements should be considered by the organisation.
Every effort is made to ensure that the contents of this document are accurate, but the advice given should not be relied on as a definitive legal statement.
alex.hastings@nicva.org's picture
by Alex Hastings

Human Resources Manager

[email protected]