Coronavirus & Furlough Scheme FAQs
Last updated: 03/03/21
What is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus is a type of virus that can affect your lungs and airways. As a group, coronaviruses are common across the world.
The coronavirus spreads from person to person via small droplets through exhaling or coughing. It's highly unlikely that it spreads through packages or through food.
Scientists are continually working hard to find out more about it, and our understanding of the virus is building.
What are the symptoms of the Coronavirus?
The typical reported symptoms of Coronavirus include a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Generally, much like the flu, the Coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, such as older people and those with long-term health conditions.
What do I do if I think I may have the Coronavirus?
Even if your symptoms are mild, you should not go to the doctors or the hospital because it could put others at risk. You must self-isolate immediately if you have any symptoms of COVID-19.
If you have any of the symptoms you should get a test to check if you have you have it as soon as possible. You should then stay at home (no visitors) until you get your results, meaning you can only leave home to have a test (NHS). The NHS also advises that anyone you live with (including in your support bubble) should stay at home too until you get your result.
If you're not sure what to do or you are worried about your system then use the NHS 111 online Coronavirus service.
When do I have to self-isolate? And how long for?
The NHS state that if you display symptoms of Coronavirus you should:
- Not leave your home for any reason – if you need food or medicine, order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
- Do not have any visitors in your home
- You can use your garden if you have one. Any exercise should be taken at home.
You should self-isolate if you have any symptoms of COVID-19, you've tested positive, you live with someone or someone in your support bubble has symptoms or has tested positive, the NHS Test & Trace have told you to do so, or if you return from travel (see here).
In fact it is a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19 or have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test & Trace. You can face fines if you do not self-isolate.
If you have symptoms or have tested positive: isolate for 10 days - from the symptoms starting if you have not had the test results yet or 10 days from when you had the test but if you get symptoms after the test, isolate from then. Stop isolating when you no do not have any symptoms or you just have a cough or changes to your sense of smell or taste. Keep isolating if you have a high temperature, runny nose/sneezing, feeling sick or diarrhoea, you can stop when these symptoms have gone.
Find out more about what to do if you live with someone who has tested positive or has symptoms, or if you've been told to isolate by the NHS Test & Trace and more about self-isolation here.
If you share your home with others, try to keep away from each other as much as possible.
Is there a vaccine?
The government is currently rolling out a mass vaccination programme, starting with certain key workers and those that are most vulnerable. You can find out more about the vaccine here.
How can I minimise the risk of myself and others getting the Coronavirus?
Things you can do to help stop germs like the Coronavirus from spreading:
- First of all, the NHS advise that you cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve - not your hands - when you cough or sneeze, and then put any used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
- Frequently wash your hands with soap and water – using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- Wash your hands as soon as you get home
- And avoid close contact with people who are unwell (keep a 2-metre distance and where not possible, 1 metre)
- They also tell you to not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
There are also other things you can do to help prevent infections from spreading:
- Keep your fingernails short
- Don’t wear wristwatches, bracelets, or rings (apart from plain bands) as they can harbour germs and also make handwashing less effective
- At work, you can wear personal protective equipment, such as disposable gloves, masks, aprons and oversleeves, when you handle anything that may be contaminated with pathogens
- Keep clothes and protective equipment clean by washing them regularly. Putting clothing on a hot wash, hot ironing them or tumble-drying them should kill any bacteria present
- Keep your work and home environment clean, especially frequently touched objects and surfaces such as phones, keyboards, door handles, light switches and tabletops
- Get rid of waste regularly, for example by picking up rubbish and emptying bins. Use foot-operated bins rather than lifting lids with your hands
- Take particular care to throw away used tissues, sanitary waste, and medical waste correctly and immediately—and remember to wash your hands afterwards!
- Bacteria can build up on cloths and re-used towels, so always use single-use disposable towels or hand-dryers if they’re available, to avoid spreading bacteria
- Where face coverings when in enclosed public spaces (see when you do and don't have to wear a face covering)
Does washing hands help prevent the Coronavirus?
Keeping your hands clean is one of the important control methods for reducing the spread of infections but it is most effective if you follow the steps below:
To wash your hands:
- Use clean, hot, running water and soap – preferably antibacterial liquid soap from a dispenser – as soap bars can harbour germs.
- Wet your hands thoroughly.
- Rub the soap into your palms to form a lather.
- Clean your hands for 20 to 30 seconds. Go between your right and left hand for each of these areas – the backs, between your fingers, your thumbs and your wrists. Remember to check and clean your fingernails too.
- Then rinse the soap off with clean, hot, running water.
- Turn the tap off with a disposable hand towel to avoid re-contaminating your hands.
- Dry your hands thoroughly using a second disposable hand towel or a hand dryer. Make sure you dry your hands properly – it's easier for harmful bacteria to spread if your hands are wet or damp.
How can I educate my employees on preventing the Coronavirus?
Back at the start of lockdown 2020, we released an Online Coronavirus Awareness Video that is available to view for free.
Please note that the video has not been updated as the government advice is changing continuously. However it still provides practical advice to raise awareness of what Coronavirus is, how to reduce the risk of the virus spreading and what to do if you’re showing symptoms.
Do I need to allow my staff to work from home?
Due to the current lockdown those that can work from home must do so. If it is not possible, your employer must ensure you can work safely.
The HSE have stated:
To help your people work from home you should:
- provide the equipment they need, for example, a computer, phone and videoconferencing facilities
- keep in regular contact with them, making sure you discuss their wellbeing
If staff are still wanting to work from home in the wake of the Coronavirus or you would like to provide the option for them to work from home, then see if you are able to make flexible work arrangements with your employees.
Where can I find information on mental health considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak?
The WHO have documented some considerations to support mental and psychological well-being during the COVID-19 outbreak, which can be accessed here. The NHS has also partnered with Every Mind Matters to provide tips and advice on helping people to stay on top of mental wellbeing here. With continuous news stories on the Coronavirus, anxiety levels can rise but it is important for organisations and individuals to protect mental health with sensible and informed advice.
What is the rate of R?
The Reproduction rate - known as ‘R’ - tells us how many people will get infected for every one person who gets ill. It is a way of looking at the ability of the virus to spread.
You can find out up-to-date information about the current R rate here.
How can businesses prepare employees to return to work?
After the first lockdown in 2020, the government issued guidance to make workplaces 'COVID-Secure' to allow employees to make a safe return. This guidance is vital to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and it is likely to remain the case for some time. Our Returning to Work Essentials Training will also help employers provide a smooth transition back into work for employees, within this bundle we also offer a Returning to Work after COVID-19 Training Course, which is essential for all organisations as the Coronavirus restrictions ease. We also offer a Risk Assessment tool, which will help employers ensure they have carried out the necessary risk assessments. It is crucial to review your Coronavirus Risk Assessment upon your return to work to ensure any additional policies, particularly surrounding social distancing and workplace hygiene, are up-to-date.
What is lateral flow testing for COVID-19?
A lateral flow test provides rapid results to determine if someone may be carrying Coronavirus, in 30 minutes. It is thought that 1 in 3 people who have COVID-19 do not have symptoms, so these tests detect cases of Coronavirus that would not necessarily be picked up, to ensure those carrying the virus can self-isolate to prevent spreading it.
Are iHASCO offering Lateral Flow Testing training?
We are not offering Lateral Flow Testing training for COVID-19. But here are some resources for those working in the care sector, or other industries who may use lateral flow testing, created by the NHS for "Healthcare staff and clinical educators who are teaching the technique or self-administering a Lateral-Flow COVID-19 test."
The NHS PDF detailing this process can be found here.
Page 3 of the PDF contains a link to this step by step - which gives care staff a video tutorial on how to self-test.
How do I keep up-to-date with the latest advice and guidance on COVID-19?
Guidance is changing all the time, as our understanding of COVID-19 changes. Please use the following websites to find up-to-date information.
How can I be furloughed and will I receive pay?
A business may furlough their staff, if as a result of the ongoing pandemic, they are unable to operate or their business activities have been seriously impacted. The aim is to help prevent redundancies so employees can be reintroduced back to work once the situation improves.
Your employer may put you on furlough, if you were employed on or before 30th October 2020.
Referred to as The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the government pays up to 80% of a person’s salary (a maximum of £2500 per month). There needs to be a furlough agreement between the employer and employee before any claims are made.
Employers can find out how to claim on the GOV.UK website.
Do I as an employer have to contribute to the cost of furlough?
Yes, as COVID restrictions begin lifting, employers will have to help cover the salaries of the workers that they have furloughed. From July 2021 employers will be required to pay 10% and the government will pay 70% for hours not worked. And August and September will see the government pay 60% and employers 20%.
How long is the furlough scheme running for?
The scheme will come to an end on 30th September 2021.
Can I be furloughed if I have to look after my children?
The scheme can be used for working parents or those with caring responsibilities, but an employer doesn’t have to go down this route. They may wish to offer alternative solutions.
Can I be furloughed if I am shielding?
Current government advice to those shielding states that 'you are strongly advised to work from home because the risk of exposure to the virus in your area may currently be higher. If you cannot work from home, then you should not attend work.'
If alternative arrangements cannot be made to work from home then the employer can look to make a furlough claim, but should discuss all options with the employee first.
Can furloughed staff complete training?
You can still give your furloughed staff iHASCO training but cannot make it compulsory if their furloughed wage takes their salary to less than minimum wage.
Here’s what the Government say:
Once you are on furlough you will not be able to work for your employer, but you can undertake training or volunteer subject to public health guidance, as long as you’re not:
- making money for your employer
- providing services to your employer
If workers are required to, for example, complete training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least the NLW/NMW for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.
What is flexible furlough?
The flexible furlough schemes allows employers to bring back employees on a part time basis. Employers must pay their employees in full for the hours they work, but can claim for the remaining hours they have been unable to work and usually would.
Can furloughed workers take holiday?
Furloughed workers can still take and accrue holiday, and request it following their usual company procedures. An employer must pay furloughed staff in full for any holiday taken. An employer can ask furloughed staff to take some of their holiday entitlement but they must give the employee twice as many days notice as the period of leave they are required to take.
FAQs regarding our Coronavirus Awareness Video
What is the duration of the video?
The video is just over 8 minutes.
Why is watching the video important?
Given recent events and the further spread of the Coronavirus (also known as COVID-19 or the Novel Coronavirus), it’s important to gain consolidated, practical advice of what Coronavirus is, what to do if you’re showing symptoms, and how to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
Fear of the unknown and feeling like we have a lack of control can contribute to panic. Therefore learning what there is to know at the moment, and how this information can help us to take preventive measures, whilst also knowing what to do if further action is needed can help you focus on the facts.
What platforms is the video available on?
Why hasn’t our Coronavirus course been updated?
We won't be updating our Coronavirus Awareness video, as government advice changes too frequently for us to keep our presenter-led, video-based training up-to-date. We created it as a free resource for our clients at the early stages of the 2020 lockdown to highlight what was known about COVID-19 at the time, and to point our users towards government advice. The additional resources contained within the course still go straight to these government sources and they provide the latest updates that our users need. We also have two places within the course (including one at the start) that tells our users about when we last updated it. We advise our clients to make this clear to their staff before their staff watch it.
Our Return To Work COVID-19, Resilience, Managing Anxiety, and Infection Prevention & Control courses provide substantial and practical information to managers and employees regarding their current or future return to work, how to stay healthy and safe, best practice with hygiene, and they help our users address the hardships that have been and are being faced at this time.
Documents and resources
Prevent Spreading Germs Poster
A poster to encourage people to dispose of bacteria from sneezes properly.
Reducing Spread of Infection Poster
A poster to encourage people to wash their hands.
Free awareness video
iHASCO’s free Coronavirus Awareness Video.
Face Masks & Respirators
A useful resource including the dos, don’ts and step-by-steps for donning and doffing. This PDF is useful for anyone who has to wear a face mask as part of their work.
Ideal for employers with staff returning to work during COVID-19
Our checklist looks at what an employer might need to consider to make your workplace safe during COVID-19, such as...
- Creating COVID-19 policies and carrying out a COVID Risk Assessment
- Returning to work meetings
- Providing hand sanitiser or have sanitising stations
- Implementing one way systems
- Providing desk dividers/partitions
- Ensuring staff maintain social distancing
COVID-19 Health & Safety Checklist
Managing Flexible Working
As an employer, you have a responsibility to consider any flexible working request from your employees.
Employers must consider each request fairly and decide if it can be accommodated, without a negative impact on the organisation. This guide takes you through some key pointers.
Made in Partnership with Citation
COVID-secure Risk Assessments & Inspections...
Make your workplace COVID-secure and prepare for inspections with our guide.
We've partnered with Citation to provide you with a short guide on COVID secure workplaces and potential workplace inspections.
Made in Partnership with Citation
Furlough scheme extension...
What does the furlough extension mean for employers?
Find out with our short guide produced in partnership with Citation.
Made in Partnership with Citation
Furlough: your options explored & returning employees...
The Furlough scheme is due to come to an end in September.
We've partnered with Citation to look at work processes and future considerations for returning your furloughed employees. Plus we also explore your best options for your business & your furloughed employees with our simple Yes/No chart.
Made in Partnership with Citation
Vaccinations and testing FAQs...
Make sure you stay on the right side of your legal obligations.
A short guide produced in partnership with Citation on vaccinations and workplace testing.
Made in Partnership with Citation
COVID-19 and pregnant employees...
A short Health & Safety guide for employers focussing on pregnant employees.
This guide takes a look at what the legal requirements are from a Health & Safety point of view as well as outlining some initial considerations you need to make as an employer.
Made in Partnership with Citation
The COVID-19 crisis has forced many employers to at least consider redundancies.
Citation’s HR and Employment Law experts have put together a checklist of five of the key things you’ll need to think about before embarking upon a redundancy process.