The Coronavirus crisis is making life uncertain for everyone. These are challenging and worrying times.
However, it will be business as usual for the Employment Law team at GSC who will still be available to provide advice and deal with your queries, even if the team are working remotely.
We have already received questions which are particularly relevant to the current situation such as:
Q: What is the position regarding paying my staff if the business has to close due to Coronavirus?
A: If employees are working from home, they should continue to be paid as per their contracts of employment. If it is not possible to work from home e.g. the business is a restaurant, but the employer has shut the premises and asked its staff not to go in, then other than in specific circumstances e.g. a contract of employment allows it, there is still an obligation on the employer to pay their staff as per the contracts of employment.
Nobody knows how long the current crisis will continue. If employers consider that they can’t continue to pay in accordance with contracts of employment, they could suggest to staff that they take a temporary reduction in pay or hours. This cannot be imposed by the employer but can be done after a careful discussion with employees (please take legal advice first!) and with the consent of employees. If a business is facing severe difficulties, and there is a sufficient reduction in work, then depending on the circumstances, an employer could ultimately consider the last resort of redundancies.
Q: I am worried about catching Cornavirus and don’t want to go into work. What can I do?
A: Your employer should pay attention to your concerns and try to assist you. For example, by suggesting that you change your hours to so as to avoid using public transport at busier times. You could suggest taking days off as holiday or unpaid leave, but your employer is not obliged to agree to this. Be careful because simply refusing to turn up to work could lead to disciplinary action against you.
Q: My child’s school has closed and I need to stay at home to look after them. Will I get paid?
A: The assumption is that you will not be working from home for that time, and that nobody is unwell. In those circumstances, there is no statutory right to be paid for this time off. However, depending on your contract of employment, your employer may agree to pay you for this time. Bear in mind that your request must be reasonable for the situation.
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