Policy Statement Regarding Coronavirus

Coronavirus Policy Statement & Business Contingency Plan

March  2020

The spread of Coronavirus has been rapid and unpredictable. This policy has been drawn up to raise awareness of the steps that can be taken to mitigate the spread of the virus throughout our workplace and the locations where we undertake our business activities.

The remit of this policy is to:

  • Define Coronavirus and its symptoms
  • Make staff aware of precautions they should take in their work and personal life.
  • Define procedures that should be followed should staff become ill or suspect they are infected.
  • Define measures that the Company is taking to prevent Coronavirus being transmitted via our business activity.
  • Outline contingency plans
  • Describe how the policy will be managed and monitored during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Definition of Coronavirus

The new virus, now officially known as Covid-19, is also more dangerous than the common cold. So far, around 15 to 20 per cent of hospital cases have been classed as “severe” and the current death rate stands at about two per cent. In most cases the virus causes mild to moderate symptoms.

It is believed that the virus is spread through droplets from infected people coughing and sneezing. Viruses cannot live outside the body for long.

What are the symptoms of the coronavirus?

According to the NHS and the WHO, main symptoms of the coronavirus usually include:

  • A cough
  • A high temperature
  • Shortness of breath

These symptoms are similar to other respiratory diseases, including flu and the common cold. If someone has symptoms, consider the following:

  • Have they travelled in the last two weeks to a high-risk area such as China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea or Northern Italy?
  • Have they been in contact with someone who has?

How quickly do symptoms emerge?

Symptoms are thought to appear between two and 10 days after contracting the virus but may be up to 24 days.

There is also good evidence, as yet unconfirmed, that the virus can be spread by asymptomatic people – that is people who carry the virus but are not yet sick.

When should someone seek medical help?

They should not go out if feeling unwell. Instead they should call NHS 111 if they have visited any of the following locations in the last 14 days or have been in contact with someone who has been in a coronavirus-affected area.

Precautions that should be taken in home and work life

Hand hygiene is the first and most important line of defence.

Like cold and flu bugs, the new virus is spread via droplets when a person coughs or sneezes.  The droplets land on surfaces and are picked up on the hands of others and spread further. People catch the virus when they touch their infected hands to their mouth, nose or eyes.

It follows that the single most important thing they can do to protect themselves is to keep their hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water or a hand sanitising gel.

Also try to avoid touching their mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands – something we all do unconsciously on average about 15 times an hour.

Other tips include:

  • Carry a hand sanitiser with you to make frequent cleaning of hands easy
  • Always wash  hands before eating
  • Be especially careful in busy airports and other public transport systems about touching things and then touching their face
  • Carry disposable tissues, cover the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue carefully (catch it, bin it, kill it)
  • Do not share snacks from packets or bowls that others are dipping their fingers into
  • Avoid shaking hands or cheek kissing if they suspect viruses are circulating
  • Regularly clean not just their hands but commonly used surfaces and devices they touch or handle

Procedure should staff become ill or suspect that they have become infected

The Company’s usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply if someone has coronavirus. The Company procedure for notifying the line manager of staff sickness must be followed.

If someone is required to go into self-isolation or quarantine:

There is no legal right to pay if someone is not sick but cannot work because they

  • Have been told by a medical expert to self-isolate
  • Have had to go into quarantine
  • Are abroad in an affected area and are not allowed to travel back to the UK

but it is good practice to treat it as sick leave or agree for the time to be taken as holiday. Otherwise there is the risk of them returning to work and a risk of the virus being transmitted.

If an employee is not sick but the employer tells them not to come to work

In this case the employee is entitled to their usual pay.

The rules for taking time off to care for dependents will remain unchanged.

If employees do not want to come to work

Some people may feel that they do not want to come to work if they are afraid of catching the virus. If there are genuine concerns, the employer must try to resolve them to protect the health and safety of the staff, ie flexible working.

If the matter cannot be resolved, they may be able to arrange to take time off as holiday or unpaid leave, but the employer does not have to agree to this.

Refusal to attend work could result in disciplinary action.

If someone comes to work with coronavirus

Seek guidance by dialling 111

Closure of the workplace

Closure of the workplace would be an extreme circumstance. Staff would be entitled to be paid. Some staff may be able to work from home. Field-based staff could continue unaffected for a period of time, however, the warehouse would need to open for vehicles to load.

Measures that the Company is taking to prevent Coronavirus being transmitted via our business activity.

Staff will be issued with guidance based on this policy and NHS information.

Field-based staff

Staff have been issued with latex gloves and are required to carry hand sanitiser. Hands must be washed or sanitised on arrival at every site.

Sanitiser spray is used for cleaning vending machines. Particular attention must be paid to areas which receive most contact such as buttons, key pads and product delivery areas.

Office staff

Office staff do not work in very close contact with one another; however, a practice of regular handwashing must be followed. Good hygiene in shared areas such as the staffroom must be followed.

Managing and monitoring this policy during the coronavirus outbreak.

The outbreak of coronavirus is currently gathering momentum.

The Company Directors will monitor the situation and follow guidance issued from government agencies, rather than reacting to media sources.

Any change to our policy or working practice will be implemented without delay.

Tania Ledger
Director