New ACAS advice on handling coronavirus in the workplace

Published on: 27/02/2020


The recent surge in European cases has been met with a myriad of governmental guidance, including the following ACAS advice.

The advice is framed around the need to keep employees away from the office or asking them to work remotely. Acas advises that, where someone has recently returned from an infected area, first:

  • offer flexible working arrangements such as homeworking, or
  • allow them to take some time off as holiday or unpaid leave.

Absence from work is a well-established and common cause of stress among employees. Acas advises that coronavirus related absences should be treated as if sick leave.  By sticking to their existing polices and being transparent with those effected, the employer will massively mitigate the risk of an employee feeling compelled to come to work and therefore risk spreading the virus.

Acas finishes with advice on tackling a temporary closure of the workplace. In that event the employer should consider:

  • asking staff who have work laptops or mobile phones to take them home so they can work from home; or
  • arranging paperwork tasks that can be done at home for staff who do not work on computers; or
  • making sure staff have a way to communicate with the employer and other people they work with.

The World Health Organisation recently announced that the majority of new cases are now outside of China. Businesses will be forced to adapt and whilst there is no precedent for this form of a viral outbreak, following this advice is a good way to get ahead.

You can find the full guidance here.


This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking professional and legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.