Coughs and wheezes spread diseases, but lack of legal advice spreads ignorance

As winter approaches, many workplaces will see a drop in employee attendance, whether through coughs and sniffles or fully-blown flu.

For small businesses, where revenue can be acutely linked to the productivity of a few people, the season can often pose a serious problem.

While some sick employees stay at a home, others continue to turn up – only to spread their germs, sending yet more colleagues to home to bed. Depending on the business, it can be the difference between profit and production effectively grinding to a halt.

Lara Murray, an employment law specialist at Palmers, said: “In these scenarios, and to keep non-attendance to a minimum, it is a good idea for businesses to revaluate their sickness absence management and annual leave policies, not least because employees may be seeking clarification amid an absence of bodies.

“While businesses must of course ‘police’ themselves in doing what they think is best to minimise the spread of germs, be it wiping computer keyboards or organising a vaccination programme, they really should seek expert advice if they are unsure of any aspect of employment law, especially in periods which bring their own particular set of problems.

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