Coronavirus - What To Do13 February 2020
- Put in place risk management plans and communication for your people. You should be advised to err on the side of caution.
- Ensure that people who are sick do not attend work. They are entitled to use their sick leave entitlement, and could take annual holidays by mutual agreement. You should also consider approving leave in advance of entitlement.
- Consider alternative working arrangements for people who feel well but have recently travelled (in particular to China) and are worried about exposure or risk to others. This could involve working from home and seeking further medical information about whether they could be infected, and /or are fit to be at work. Technically these people are not entitled to sick leave because they are not sick, but are making themselves unavailable for work. However, if they perform their normal work from home they are entitled to be paid; and if they are not performing their normal work you could still agree to them taking sick leave and/or annual holidays.
- Where you believe there to be a real threat and wider risk, direct your people to stay home. In that case, regardless of whether they are performing work, people should be paid and not required to use their sick leave entitlement. By mutual agreement, annual holidays could be taken.
Communication is going to be key at this time, so remind everyone about the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on reducing acute respiratory infection:
- Avoid close contact with people suffering acute respiratory infections.
- Consider wearing suitable face masks.
- Wash hands frequently, especially after contact with ill people or their environment.
- Avoid close contact with sick farm animals or wild animals.
- People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection should practice cough etiquette:
- maintain distance,
- wear a mask or cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing,
- wash hands.
Further information can be found at the Ministry of Health Website, https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/novel-coronavirus-covid-19 and the World Health Organisation website, https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019