As an employer we are constantly reviewing risks and dangers for our employees to ensure we maintain a safe and stable working environment for all. This applies to hazards and dangers at the workplace with slips, trips and falls and also other threats to health and wellbeing. The Coronavirus is just one of these dangers that we need to be aware of and tackle.
With the increase in reported cases we need to do our best to protect our employees and help with government efforts to contain and prevent the spread of the virus.
It is important to remember that this virus will result in mild flu symptoms with little risk for the vast majority of people. However, those with underlying conditions or of an advanced age are at risk of more severe complications.
Preventing the spread of the virus is our first priority and with that we are continuing to review our approach in line with Public Health England & Health Protection Scotland’s guidance.
The list of affected countries is listed below.
Affected regions Category 1
- Hubei Provence (China)
- Specific lockdown areas in Northern Italy as designated by the Government of Italy
- Special care zones in South Korea as designated by the Government of the Republic of South Korea
With the advice given by the Government we are advising that no travel takes place to Category 1 regions.
Affected regions Category 2
- Mainland China, Thailand, Japan, Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia. Macau, Northern Italy (defined by a line above, and not including, Pisa, Florence and Rimini), Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar
We are also advising employees to assess the risk and consult with the foreign office with travel to Category 2 regions. However, clients have already made us aware that they will not accept employees attending their sites who have been to either Category 1 or Category 2 regions as they may pose a risk to their wider workforce. The Company, if faced with this issue would need to place the employee on 14 days unpaid leave for self-isolation purposes. We therefore need to make employees aware of that potential before they travel so they are aware of the potential consequences.
If you are travelling back from either a Category 1 or Category 2 region, please advise your line manager before returning to work.
All travellers (including those planning travel to other destinations not listed above) should consider the necessity of the journey and where appropriate follow sensible guidance to prepare for their trip and reduce risk of exposure to COVID-19 while this outbreak is on-going:
- Check up to date travel health recommendations on our Country Information pages, and if you require further advice, speak to your GP, practice nurse, pharmacist or travel clinic.
- If you are elderly or have pre-existing health issues, you should be aware that if you are infected with COVID-19 you could be at an increased risk of severe infection.
- Be aware of and keep up to date with the latest official advice offered by the country you are departing from or travelling to during this COVID-19 outbreak.
- If you are travelling from the UK, check the up to date guidance from the gov.uk website and for information on any travel restrictions, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) foreign travel advice. You can also find general travel health advice for each destination on our Country Information pages.
- Check the impact this outbreak may have on your travel insurance coverage, including medical repatriation costs in case of ill health or any new restrictions on travel. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has produced information on travel insurance implications following the outbreak.
- Contact your airline, tour operator, cruise line or other transport and accommodation providers for up-to date information on your itinerary and travel plans.
- Be aware that there may be enhanced screening/monitoring at entry and exit ports.
As the situation develops it is worthwhile noting that Countries on Category 2 listing may expand so you may also be required to self-isolate for a set period, even if you do not have symptoms on your return.
If you become unwell with symptoms linked to those of Coronavirus and have been informed by either your GP or NHS 111 to self-isolate, then the company will provide you with sick pay for that period in line with your contract of employment and eligibility. You will need to immediately contact your line manager to ensure your absence is logged. A member of the HR Department will contact you shortly after should you need any additional support.
You will be required to get a sign off from your GP to return to work.
It is important to check where to get help if you feel unwell within a set period after travel (often 14 days). If you are travelling back to the UK, guidance is available from the gov.uk website.
In addition to the points above, consider the general advice for preventing the spread of respiratory viruses:
- Wash your hands often with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. This is particularly important after taking public transport.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash hands with soap and water.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in the home and work environment.
As the situation changes, we will continue to review and provide further updates in line with Government guidance.
If you have any further concerns or queries, please contact your local HR Representative.