Please note: this guidance is of a general nature and should be treated as a guide, and in the event of any conflict between any applicable legislation (including the health and safety legislation) and this guidance, the applicable legislation shall prevail.
This guidance will assist employers, businesses and their staff in staying open safely during coronavirus (COVID-19).
During this time of unprecedented disruption, the UK Government is not asking all businesses to shut – indeed it is important for business to carry on. Only some non-essential shops and public venues have been asked to close – see more detailed information on the businesses and venues that must close, and those that are exempt.
The government understands that employers and businesses may have concerns about how they can remain open for business safely, and so play their part in preventing the spread of the virus. All employees should be encouraged to work from home unless it is impossible for them to do so. Not everyone can work from home: certain jobs require people to travel to, from and for their work – for instance, to operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or to deliver front line services. For specific settings please refer to the workplace specific guidance.
Below is a summary of advice for employers and businesses in England to follow to protect their workforce and customers, whilst continuing to trade. It includes social distancing, hygiene, cleanliness, staff sickness advice and staying at home. For advice to businesses in other nations of the UK please see guidance set by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.
View general FAQs on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and what you can and cannot do.
This guidance may be updated in line with the changing situation.
What you need to know
- businesses and workplaces should make every possible effort to enable working from home as a first option. Where working from home is not possible, workplaces should make every effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government
- members of staff who are vulnerable or extremely vulnerable, as well as individuals whom they live with, should be supported as they follow the recommendations set out in guidance on social distancing and shielding respectively
- where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff. Potential mitigating actions are set out in these illustrative workplace examples
- staff who are unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) should not travel to or attend the workplace.
- staff may be feeling anxious about coming to work and also about impacts on livelihood. Workplaces should ensure staff are fully briefed and appropriately supported at this time
- any member of staff who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) (a new, continuous cough and/or a high temperature) should be sent home and stay at home for 7 days from onset of symptoms. If the member of staff lives in a household where someone else is unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) then they must stay at home in line with the stay at home guidance
- employees will need your support to adhere to the recommendation to stay at home to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) to others
- employees should be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues
- frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products
- those who follow advice to stay at home will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day of their absence from work
- employers should use their discretion concerning the need for medical evidence for certification for employees who are unwell. This will allow GPs to focus on their patients
- if evidence is required by an employer, those with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online, and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website