SARS epidemic could create legal minefield

first_imgSARS epidemic could create legal minefieldOn 29 Apr 2003 in Coronavirus, Personnel Today Features list 2021 – submitting content to Personnel TodayOn this page you will find details of how to submit content to Personnel Today. We do not publish a… Related posts: Comments are closed. center_img Previous Article Next Article Employers are worried that efforts to protect their workforces from theworldwide severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) epidemic could create alegal minefield. Even employment experts can’t agree what action organisations should take toprotect staff after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared Hong Kong,Toronto, Beijing and parts of China no go areas. The UK Government wants staff returning from affected areas to spend twoweeks off work in quarantine to stop the spread of the disease – which hasalready killed more than 260 people globally. But while employment experts are urging HR directors to implement SARSpolicies immediately, they disagree whether the enforced two-week absenceshould be paid or unpaid. Some experts believe that employers could face unfair dismissal claims ifstaff are not on full paid leave. Sue Nickson, head of employment at law firm Hammonds Suddards Edge, said:”It would be unreasonable for employers to do anything but pay staff infull for their incubation period. Otherwise staff would have possible unfairdismissal cases.” However, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)believes organisations are within their rights to force staff returning fromregions affected by SARS to take their quarantine time as unpaid leave. Diane Sinclair, lead adviser on public policy at the CIPD, said: “Withstaff going to affected countries, employers could argue that staff arebreaching their contract because they know they will not be able to work ontheir return.” Robin Bloom, partner in the employment team at law firm Dickinson Dees, claimsemployers could introduce a policy that forces staff to take the extra time offas holiday. “It is reasonable to introduce a policy which states that staff musttake the extra time off as holiday if they are aware before they go that theywill be ignoring WHO advice.” www.fco.gov.ukBy Paul NelsonWhat employers should do?– Communicate with staff on the company policy, as well asGovernment and WHO advice– Make sure all staff returning from affected area stay awayfrom work for up to two weeks and see their GP immediately– Poll staff on all travel plansWhat is your organisation doing todeal with the SARS [email protected]last_img read more

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