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Global HR Lawyers

Coronavirus - our employer survey

12 March 2020

We have surveyed decision-makers in a cross-section of businesses to find out how they are responding to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Our survey took a snapshot of the position from 5 to 9 March 2020 as employers began to take precautions and deal with employee concerns from their workforce. We received responses from 65+ senior HR leaders and in-house lawyers in organisations collectively employing more than 200,000 people.

Our key findings

Initial responses to the survey have shown that, while one in ten employers who responded had no plans to implement a policy on Coronavirus, nearly 60% had done so and a further 10% were planning on doing so. Fewer than 10% already had a policy on pandemic disease in place.

The survey also suggests that employers are being cautious about travel. Around half of employers responding are already restricting business travel beyond the current Foreign & Commonwealth Office recommendations, with many restricting journeys within the UK and some having banned all non-essential business travel.

Working from home is by far the most popular arrangement currently being put in place for employees who are formally advised to self-isolate, according to the initial survey responses. The government has said that statutory sick pay (SSP) is payable to employees who are quarantined according to medical/government advice, and some employers are taking that approach.

It seems, however, that the question of sick pay entitlement for quarantined employees is not being put fully to the test as employers and employees are choosing instead to opt for homeworking where this is feasible. It is not yet clear how the position will change if schools close, or if the situation worsens. Many jobs cannot be done from home, of course - one of the key concerns highlighted by some employers in their responses.

Some employees do not have a Coronavirus policy but, where they do, our survey suggests that most Coronavirus policies address the potential issue of employees having to be absent because their care arrangements break down - for example, because schools close or grandparents can no longer help. This suggests that many employers are already thinking several steps ahead to what might happen if the virus spreads further.

Employers reported a range of people challenges in responding to Coronavirus, ranging from keeping communications aligned through to managing employee concerns. Overall, the survey shows that employers are being pragmatic, flexible and not overly legalistic in their actions and approaches so far, with 51% of respondents directing some employees to self-isolate as a precaution and a similar number allowing employees to choose to self-isolate.

Take part in the survey

We are planning to continue our benchmarking survey as the situation develops, and will be sharing the full results with those who take part. Please get in touch with us if your organisation would like to participate. 

An infographic of our key findings can be downloaded here.

 

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