Five key questions asked by people facing a Coronavirus emergency

If you need expert advice on how you have been affected by Coronavirus or COVID-19, we have covered five of the most frequently asked questions about the outbreak. During this frightening time, travellers, employees and employers need to be clued-up to ensure they do not panic and know how to react.

The Government is advising potential travellers to the Hubei Province, mainland China, South Korea, or areas in Europe such as the Lombardy and Veneto regions of Italy, to cancel their travel plans.

UK Government officials state that non-essential travel should be avoided and if you are travelling through an affected area, to attempt to make alternative arrangements.

The advice comes after outbreaks of Coronavirus in these areas and has been put in place to ensure protection and prevention of further spreading.

Question 1 – I am due to travel to an area affected by Coronavirus, will my insurance cover me?

Travelling against official government advice makes your travel insurance void, in most cases. This will mean that you are unable to make any claims against your insurance policy, whether it is related to Coronavirus or not. If you travelled to an affected destination before the travel advice, it is best to contact your insurance provider to find out about their policy on this. Affected areas can be found here.

Question 2 – My flight has been cancelled due to Coronavirus, what am I entitled to?

Airlines that have cancelled flights due to Covid-19 outbreaks in destinations should be offering refunds to all passengers affected. Alternatively, if you have booked through a travel agent you should be able to make alternative arrangements to change your itenary. If you have booked a hotel, you should be offered a refund.

Travellers staying in private accommodation such as an Airbnb, should review what the local authorities at your destination are advising. If you are using an Airbnb, and your destination is affected by Coronavirus, you may be entitled to cancel your booking without charge. Read Airbnb’s official COVID-19 response.

Question 3 – Will I lose my holiday entitlement because of Coronavirus?

If you have travelled from an area with a Coronavirus outbreak you may be asked to self-isolate. If you are feeling well, yet have to be quarantined, you are entitled to your usual pay if you are able to complete your work from home.

Customer facing employees, such as hospitality workers, who are asked to self-quarantine face a more complicated process around being paid. If you are not sick, but are unable to go to work because of Coronavirus, you are not entitled to statutory pay. Employers may pay you at their own discretion, however most customer facing workers are having to use their holiday pay.

Question 4 – My employer told me to stay off work, but I do not have any symptoms?

Your employer has a duty of care to its staff and customers, for this reason you may be asked to stay home if you have travelled from an affected area. You may be entitled to pay if your employer’s concern does not match official government advice. However, if you have recently been to an area suffering from a COVID-19 outbreak, current self-quarantine regulations may not cover your pay.

Question 5- I am caring for a family member with Coronavirus, what about work?

If you are caring for a child, relative or friend with Coronavirus, your employers are under no obligation to pay you. In order to be paid for emergency time off when you are looking after someone with Coronavirus, you will need to use your holidays, unless you can work from home.

The best way to ensure that you are safe during the Coronavirus outbreak is to avoid travel to areas with an outbreak and ensure you are washing your hands frequently.

Advice on washing your hands effectively is to ensure you clean in between your fingers and under your nails using soap and water, for at least 20 seconds – the same length of time as it takes to sing happy birthday. The NHS has released guidelines on preventing Coronavirus from spreading here. 

If you are unclear about your rights to statutory sick pay, or whether you meet the eligibility threshold, do not hesitate to contact our expert employment law team.

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