COVID-19:
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Coronavirus: How to help minimise the risks in your workplace

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With confirmed cases of the Coronavirus now in the UK, we’re looking at the ways to minimise the risks to you, your employees and your business.

The Coronavirus (also referred to as Covid-19) has dominated news headlines for the past few weeks. It’s infected thousands of Chinese citizens and has spread to most countries around the globe - with no sign of slowing, we’re looking at simple things you can do to help minimise the risks in your workplace...

What exactly is the Coronavirus?

It’s a new type of virus that was first identified in Wuhan City, China. Symptoms are similar to a common cold, they could include a fever and a cough, which could progress to severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Who is most at risk? The virus is particularly dangerous to older people, those with weakened immune systems, or those with long-term health conditions.

How does it spread?

The Coronavirus spreads like a common cold too, with people coughing or sneezing droplets containing the virus into the air.

But unless you or your employees have been to an affected country or been in contact with someone with the virus, your chance of picking up the infection is very low.

What can I do to manage the virus?

As an employer, it’s your job to take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of your workforce - not just now but always. While the risks are low, you need to reassure your staff that you’re taking the outbreak seriously.

Here are some simple steps to help minimise the risks:

1. Spring cleaning

It’s important that everyone in your business practices good hygiene to stop viruses like this one from spreading. The World Health Organisation advises that people:

  • Use alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water to clean their hands regularly.
  • Cover their mouth and nose with an elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing—if you use a tissue, they advise that you throw it away immediately and wash your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough.

It has been advised that 20 seconds and a good lather of soap should be practised when hand-washing.

Consider putting up posters in your staff’s facilities such as toilets, kitchen areas and place extra hand sanitizer around your workplace.

2. Changes to travel plans

If you or an employee has plans to travel to any affected areas for business, consider postponing the trip or carrying out meetings via Skype - would this achieve the same result?

However, if you or your employee does decide to travel, think about the risks beforehand. Have clear instructions on hygiene and agree to communicate travel arrangements as well as dates.

3. Employees returning from affected areas

The government is advising that anyone who has travelled to an affected area should stay at home and avoid contact with other people for a minimum of 14 days - speak to your employee and if you can put steps in place that will help such as working from home or meetings via Skype.

4. Keep the door open

You may have a lot to deal with right now but it’s important to not just support your employees’ physical health, but their mental health too. So make sure that your staff know your door is always open if they need to talk about their concerns.

Reassure them that you’re taking all the necessary precautions and remind them to use any support programmes they have access to.

If you would like to speak to an Employment Law Professional please don’t hesitate to submit a contact form and we’ll be in touch.

Have a question?

Speak to one of our EL team today, call 0114 241 7092. They can’t give out any medical advice, but they can give you practical guidance on how to take extra precautions and help you protect your people’s health and wellbeing in the workplace.

EL Direct

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I don't have Microsoft Office or Microsoft Word, what should I do?

If you don't have Microsoft Office, or Microsoft Word installed on your PC or Mac, don't worry - you can still use our products. You can get a free alternative from Open Office.

Open Office Org is open-source developed alternative to Microsoft Office, developed by a large software company called Oracle. Open Source means the company who build the software, allow 100% use of it, 100% free.

Since Open Office is specifically developed to be exactly the same as Microsoft Office, with all the same programs in the suite (Eg: Word, Excel, Access and Power Point) - it will freely open any Microsoft Office file-format. Meaning, just because a document was written in Microsoft Word, doesn't mean it can't be opened in another program. Open Office will do that, and vise versa.

To download and install Open Office;

  1. Go to www.openoffice.org.
  2. On the left hand side, click 'I want to download Open Office'. In the green box, click the main link which starts with 'Start downloading OpenOffice.org...'
    • Windows Only:When the program has downloaded, click Install and wait for the program to install.
    • MAC OSX Only:When the program has downloaded, a notification box will pop up with an arrow from the Open Office Icon to the Applications Folder in Finder, drag the icon to the Applications folder to install the program.
  3. You are now ready to use Open Office, and the documents you have purchased from us.