These updates should be read alongside update 2002, which lists a range of government and World Health Organisation websites. 

The medical situation is, of course, rapidly changing, and guidance will change with it. The legal situation is also changing, such as statutory sick pay now being payable for the first three days, for employees eligible for SSP who are self-isolating
It is important to monitor reliable new sources and keep up to date. The key word there is reliable. There is a lot of misinformation flying around.

In the lists of subject headings below, obvious subjects like what coronavirus is, the symptoms, and the current basic guidance on how to stay well and prevent its spread isnt' included.  This is to wash hands; catch coughs and sneezes in a tissue and bin it (then wash hands); don't touch eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home and work; avoid contact (within two metres, for more than 15 minutes) with someone who is unwell. The government and NHS will widely publicise any change to this basic guidance

Essential starting points

Your organisation and coronavirus. National Council for Voluntary Organisations, 3 March 2020. Specifically written for charities and voluntary organisations of all sizes, to help them decide the steps to take. Includes lots of links to other documents, and will be updated as the situation changes.

  • What do we need to do to protect staff, volunteers and visitors?
  • Should our employees take sick leave?
  • Should we cancel our events?
  • How do we support our beneficiaries/service users?
  • How will we develop a contingency plan and how will our insurance be impacted?
  • Will there be financial implications?
  • How are charities helping to deal with covid-19?
  • Resources

Covid-19: Guidance for employers and businesses. Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and Public Health England, 25 February 2020.

  • Guidance on facemasks
  • What to do if an employee or a member of the public becomes unwell and believes they have been exposed to covid-19
  • Returning from travel overseas to affected areas
  • What to do if a member of staff or the public with suspected covid-19 has recently been in your workplace
  • What to do if a member of staff or the public with confirmed covid-19 has recently been in your workplace
  • When individuals in the workplace have had contact with a confirmed case of covid-19
  • Certifying absence from work
  • Advice for staff returning from travel anywhere else in the world within the last 14 days
  • Handling post, packages or food from affected areas
  • Cleaning offices and public spaces where there are suspected or confirmed cases of covid-19
  • Rubbish disposal including tissues

Responding to the coronavirus. CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development). Wide range of CIPD resources and guidance (some for members only but most available to non-members), and links to external resources. Non-members may need to register for access to the website, but registration is free.

  • Coronavirus FAQs
  • Coronavirus advice for UK employers: Be prepared; look after people's health, well-being and safety; immediate advice for employees returning from travel; wider health and well-being concerns; develop flexible resourcing plans

Resources and guidance

  • General information
  • People policy and legal considerations
  • Flexible and homeworking
  • Business continuity and planning
  • Travel
  • Medical 

Issues for employers, but equally relevant to organisations without employees

Some of the issues discussed below apply differently to employees than to people who are legally "workers" (such as casuals), or are self-employed or volunteers. These issues might include, for example, what a person can and cannot be required to do, or what pay they may or may not be entitled to. Keep this in mind when reading the articles below and other employment-related guidance.

Coronavirus: Key considerations for employers of UK staff. CMS Cameron McKenna Nabarro Olswang LLP, 26 February 2020.

  • What key issues should we consider now?
  • What are our duties as an employer? How do we protect our staff? (General health and safety duties; special groups of staff; should we be providing staff with face marks?)
  • How do we manage staff who have been abroad?
  • Should we restrict business (and other) travel?
  • What if someone refuses to come to work?
  • What if one of our staff members develops coronavirus?
  • How would we react to higher levels of absence?
  • Discrimination risks
  • A final thought

Coronavirus: Advice for UK HR professionals. Pinsent Masons LLP, 4 March 2020.

  • Can an employer expect an employee required to self-isolate following travel from a particular geographic area to work from home?
  • Can an employer take steps to prevent an employee who has refused to self-isolate from accessing its premises or coming into contact with other employees or clients?
  • Must asymptomatic employees who are required to self-isolate be paid? Can they be placed on sick leave, or required to use their holiday entitlement?
  • Will employees be entitled to sick pay?
  • What can an employer communicate about an employee with coronavirus?
  • Can employers require employees who have been to certain geographic regions to inform HR of this?
  • Can employers be liable for discrimination and harassment by their employees?
  • How should Chinese staff in the UK who are unable to return to China be treated?
  • What about Chinese nationals who are unable to return to the UK or cannot attend work or university?
  • What about British nationals in China?
  • Can employers still recruit from China?

Coronavirus: Obligations and issues to consider for an employer. Birketts LLP, 6 March 2020.

  • Health and safety
  • Employees stuck abroad
  • How can an employer reduce the risks to employees?
  • Absence and pay issues
  • The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020
  • Taking holiday
  • Business downturn
  • Risk of discrimination complaints

Coronavirus (Covid-19): Practical points for UK employers. Mayer Brown International LLP, 3 March 2020.

  • The legal framework [health and safety]
  • Sources of H&S advice for the employer
  • Next steps for employers: Review, communicate, update, travel
  • Disciplinary action and dismissal

Common questions

  • Does the employer have to pay staff sick pay or full pay if an employee is self-quarantining?
  • What should an employer do if the employee refuses to come in to work because they are worried about an infection being picked up at work?
  • Can an employer suspend individuals where they have travelled from areas which are not currently identified as high risk areas by the government advice?
  • What happens if employees have children who cannot attend school and the employee needs to take care of them during working hours?
  • Can an employer require an employee to prove they are healthy before returning to work (e.g. by taking a test)?
  • Can the employer insist on an employee having a GP's note confirming that they are now fit to return to work?
  • Does the employer have to tell its workforce if an employee as been identified as suffering from the coronavirus?
  • Can the employer make the employees work at home if there is a risk of infection at work or public transport is heavily disrupted?

Sandy Adirondack Legal Updates 2004 06.03.2020