What if an employer needs to close the workplace?
It has been reported that some employers have taken steps to close the workplace as a result of the coronavirus. Whilst this may work for some employers, for the large majority of employers, this is not possible.
If an employee with coronavirus comes to work, the workplace does not necessarily have to close. Indeed, Public Health England (‘PHE’) advises even if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus, they do not recommend closing the workplace.
However, the local (PHE) health protection team (which can be located on GOV.UK) should be notified and will liaise with the employer to advise them on the relevant steps and any necessary actions or precautions they may need to take.
Currently it is very unlikely that an employer will need to close their workplace. However, employers should still plan in case they need to close temporarily. For example, allowing employees with company laptops/mobile phones to work from home and if possible, providing paper-based tasks for employees that do not.
In some situations, employers may need to close down their business for a short time. Unless it says in the contract or is agreed otherwise, employers still need to pay their employees for this time. If the employer thinks they will need to do this, it's important to talk with staff as early as possible and throughout the closure.
The Department of Health and Social Care will be publishing updated data on the following (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public) every day at 2pm until further notice.
Should you require specific legal advice or guidance on any of the issues raised by this article, please do not hesitate to contact employment law specialist Stephen Britton on 01159 411469.