This toolkit provides step-by-step guidance for managing the coronavirus in the workplace. It provides links to key information and templates on the website.

Coronavirus

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). This version, which is believed to have originated in 2019 in Wuhan, China, has been named “Covid-19”.

Symptoms include a fever, cough, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue and loss of taste and smell. Many also report abdominal pains, diarrhoea and vomiting, headaches and discolouration of the fingers and toes. Some may suffer from a mild illness and recover easily, while in other cases, infection can progress to pneumonia. Reports suggest that the elderly, the obese, smokers, those with weakened immune systems, diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease are the most susceptible to serious illness and death.

Employers’ duties

Employers should remember that they have a duty of care towards their employees and should take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of their workforce, not exposing them to unnecessary risk. In this case, this includes not putting workers in situations where they could become infected by the virus without taking adequate control measures.

What should you do as an employer?

  1. Most importantly, follow the government guidance. Review work processes to see if any can be adapted to better safeguard staff, eg using more online tools or remote working. Where employees are working from home, see the Working from Home Toolkit and your Homeworkers topic for general advice including a Line Manager Guide.

  2. Consider how best to keep the organisation running efficiently if you are working with reduced staff levels. Keep arrangements under constant review.

  3. Review your Covid risk control measures staff in the workplace. See the Coronavirus return to work risk assessment — completed example. Remember, you can call the advice line if you need more specific advice.

  4. Review your HS policies in view of the pandemic. First aid, RIDDOR, homeworkers, lone workers, risk assessments, etc will all be affected. See the Factsheet on managing a suspected or confirmed Covid-19 outbreak for step-by-step advice.

  5. Ensure that at least one person is responsible for keeping abreast of developments from the UK Government and the NHS. Their responsibility should extend to communicating any developments to management and the rest of the organisation.

  6. Encourage staff to stay healthy by communicating how to avoid infection and the latest hygiene advice. Consider what initiatives you can suggest to maintain mental health and wellbeing.

  7. Keep communicating. Constant communication with your employees is critical at times of change and will maintain morale, especially if they are working remotely: see our feature Team health in remote working. Decide on the best methods of telling staff about changes that affect them. Don’t forget suppliers and other stakeholders who may be affected by your organisation’s activities.

  8. As well as continuity planning, consider putting in place a separate pandemic recovery plan. Use the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Recovery Plan Policy as a template.

  9. Ventilation is a significant part of Covid infection management. See Safer ventilation at work — airborne transmission of the virus.

  10. Keep cleaning schedules under review. Make sure you have a good stock of supplies and that staff are aware of any new procedures, including use of kitchens and sanitary facilities. Provide soap, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitisers for staff. See Cleaning and Covid-19.

Useful documents

Last reviewed 27 June 2022