We are sure you will have seen the images this morning of demonstrators in the Ukraine attacking buses transporting evacuees from Wuhan China to a quarantine site in the central Poltava region in the Ukraine;
Our Employment law specialist Vina Madhavji writes… 45 Ukrainian nationals and 27 non-Ukrainian nationals were being transported to the village of Novy Sanzhary in the Ukraine where they faced hurling stones and demonstrators lighting bonfires.
The Ukraine security service has stated that the uprising occurred further to a fake email alleging to be from the health ministry and falsely claiming that some of the evacuees had contracted the coronavirus.
The Ukraine Health Ministry has confirmed that all Evacuees at the quarantine site are healthy. To reassure local residents Ukraine’s Health Minister has stated that she would join the Evacuees in quarantine.
President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on the local residents to express kindness and understanding to the Evacuees. He states:-
“But there is another danger that I would like to mention. The danger of forgetting that we are all human and we are all Ukrainians. Each of us – including those who ended up in Wuhan during the epidemic.”
Whilst the scenes from the Ukraine are extreme, there are understandable concerns individuals may have when a new or dangerous strain of virus comes into close proximity to them. Whilst the risk of catching coronavirus (COVID-19) in the UK is currently low, ACAS has provided advice for employers and employees in relation to health and safety issues that may arise linked to the coronavirus.
ACAS’s recommendations for Employers include the following measures:
- Keeping everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace
- Ensuring everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
- Making sure managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus and are clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case someone in the workplace develops the virus
- If an employee is not sick but an Employer chooses to tell the Employee not to come to work, an Employee should get their usual pay. An example might be if someone has returned from China since the virus started and their employer asks the Employee not to attend work as a precautionary measure.
ACAS advice for Employees includes the following guidance:-
- If you do not want to go to work because you are afraid of catching the coronavirus then you should talk to your Employer who should listen to any concerns Employees may have.
- If there are genuine concerns, your Employer is obliged to try to resolve them to protect the health and safety of their staff. For example, the employer could offer flexible working where possible, such as homeworking. Alternatively, you may be able to arrange with your employer to take the time off as holiday or unpaid leave. It is important to note that your employer does not have to agree to this and if an employee refuses to attend work then this could result in disciplinary action.
- If you are cannot work because you are in self-isolation or quarantine there is no legal right to pay if you are not sick but cannot work because you have been told by a medical expert to self-isolate/ had to go into quarantine. However, ACAS advises that it is good practice for your Employer to treat it as sick leave and follow their usual sick pay policy or agree for the time to be taken as holiday.