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. The information is being continually checked and updated.


The World Health Organization (WHO) explains that 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 particular episode, which first appeared in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, has been named “COVID-19”.

Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath. Some may suffer from a mild illness and recover easily, while in other cases, infection can progress to pneumonia. Reports suggest that the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease are the most susceptible to serious illness and death. Symptoms can appear in as few as two days after infection or as long as 14 days.

Employer duties

Employer 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, preventing them from exposing themselves to unnecessary risk.

What should you do in the workplace?

  1. Organise homeworking and remote working where possible. Employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home. How to make the move to homeworking

  2. Encourage all staff, whether working from home or still attending the workplace, to stay healthy and communicate how to avoid spreading infection through good hygiene and social distancing. Guidance on managing coronavirus issues at work

  3. If necessary, complete a coronavirus risk assessment for members of staff.

  4. Ensure that one person is responsible for keeping abreast of developments from the World Health Organization, the UK Government and the NHS.

  5. As an importer or exporter, keep track of the latest information on trade-related responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. COVID-19 and trade, EU introduces measures to help fight coronavirus.

  6. Be aware of the support and advice available to exporters from the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the general assistance available to businesses announced by the Government.

  7. Complete a coronavirus essential business risk assessment and put plans for emergency management into action. Organisations should recognise the need to have a separate pandemic recovery plan and procedure which focuses on a short-term recovery programme.

  8. Ensure your HR policies are fit for purpose, being mindful that setting overly harsh policies around remuneration may result in employees coming in to work when it would be more advisable that they stay at home.

  9. Communicate to staff regarding the organisation’s pay policies and keep up to date with the latest Government legislation regarding Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

  10. Listen to any concerns and offer reassurance for those worried about attending work and catching the virus. Although this may be different for every employer, some may decide to offer a period of paid annual leave or unpaid leave, or allow employees to work from home where possible. See Managing annual leave during coronavirus and How to make the move to homeworking.

  11. Be prepared to act quickly to deal with employees who may have been exposed to the virus to help contain the virus in your workplace as much as possible. Sickness Absence

  12. Look at the Government plans for financial assistance to help employers retain employees for an extended period of time, although offering no work, and avoid lay-offs. See Furlough and the Job Retention Scheme Q&As, How to guide for furlough, Furlough Toolkit

  13. Consider the measures you may wish to put in place when re-opening the workplace, using these links to key information.Returning to the workplace Toolkit

Seek professional advice

For professional advice on dealing with any HR matters, speak to a qualified consultant on 0844 561 8149.

Last reviewed 14 May 2020