COVID-19 raises a number of liability concerns, particularly if employees are affected due to a business’ negligence.
Our employees are the lifeblood of our businesses and ensuring that their welfare is looked after is critical to business continuation and moving things on post lockdown.
Kennedys Solicitors have provided a comprehensive document that gives excellent guidance for employers and some insight into potential exposures to businesses. They offer some guidance about likely employers’ liability claims that may stem from the coronavirus and highlight the key elements of such a claim, including employers duties, risk assessments and causation.
To help support both your employees and your business its important to proactively manage the potential risks. We have pulled together various resources to help you navigate the impact of COVID-19 on your business and your employees.
Managing the risks
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a section on its dedicated to infections at work, containing useful
guidance for employers. The sections on pandemic influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), are likely to be particularly helpful in terms of conducting a COVID-19 risk assessment and identifying appropriate control measures.
Employers should make sure they are following all government protocols to properly protect their employees from contracting COVID-19.
Remote workers: Read our guidance on keeping remote workers safe online.
Furloughed employees: Read our guidance on looking after furloughed employees for advice on how you can support furloughed employees and keep them engaged.
Preparing for a claim:
Employers that are dealing with a COVID-19 employers’ liability claim should report it to a qualified insurance professional. When reporting potential claims:
- Include COVID-19 in the incident description.
- Investigate the incident. You’ll want to report whether the worker involved in the claim came into contact with a person known to be infected with COVID-19. It’s also important to confirm when the employee in question began to experience COVID-19 symptoms and whether or not they have tested positive for the disease. Moreover, employers must rely on the ill employee to provide workplace-specific information that could prove compensability.
- Determine if the worker could have fallen ill from a friend or family member.
- Provide details regarding the employee’s perceived level of risk for contracting COVID-19. For instance, you’ll want to highlight whether the employee works in a high-risk role (eg a medical professional).
- Include robust documentation on the measures your organisation has taken to protect employees from COVID-19. This includes travel and event restrictions, cleaning and sanitation practices, social distancing protocols and remote work plans.