Coronavirus (COVID-19): advice for employers and employees

Working safely and social distancing

Current government advice is for everyone to stay at home wherever possible and limit contact with other people.

This includes:

  • only going outside for food, exercise, medical reasons or work (where this cannot be done from home)
  • staying 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people ('social distancing' or 'physical distancing')
  • avoiding busy commuting times on public transport where travel is essential
  • washing your hands regularly
  • not leaving home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms

What you can and cannot do depends on whether you’re in England, Scotland or Wales. For the latest government guidance:

If the workplace is open

Employers have a 'duty of care' for staff, customers and anyone else who visits the workplace. This means they must do all they reasonably can to support their health, safety and wellbeing.

To make the workplace safe, employers must:

To get advice on working safely during coronavirus from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) you can:

Which workplaces can be open

The rules on which workplaces can open are different for England, Scotland and Wales. For the latest government guidance:

If the workplace is closed

While the workplace is closed, employers should talk to staff about whether or not they can work from home.

If working from home is not possible, staff might:

  • be put on 'furlough' (put on temporary leave)
  • use paid holiday
  • use other paid or unpaid leave

Keeping in touch 

This can be a difficult time for both employers and staff. It's important for employers and staff to keep in touch while the workplace is closed.

Employers should have regular calls with staff to:

  • check on their health and wellbeing
  • update staff on any actions they’ve taken
  • talk as early as possible about plans to return to work

Employers should signpost staff to any health and wellbeing support available. For example:

  • support your workplace provides, for example through your employee assistance programme (EAP) if there’s one available
  • support that's available outside your workplace, for example mental health support from Mind

Find out more about supporting mental health.

    Working from home

    For any employee working from home, the employer should:

    • pay the employee as usual
    • keep in regular contact
    • check on the employee's health and wellbeing

    Find out more about:

    Avoiding discrimination

    Employers must not single anyone out unfairly. For example, they must not treat an employee differently because of their race or ethnicity.

    They should look out for any bullying, discrimination or harassment happening in their workplace and address it immediately.

    Find out more about discrimination, bullying and harassment.

    Coronavirus: advice for employers and employees
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