A multinational company from Salford has issued advice about the coronavirus outbreak, leading to a 20% increase in calls from concerned employers to their 24-hour advice line.

The organisation, Peninsula, provides support for businesses, along with managing health and safety.

Over the past week, they have received thousands of calls on the subject from employers across the UK.

Started by Salford resident, Peter Done, the now global company has its headquarter in Manchester City Centre and offers a variety of HR and health and safety advice to small businesses operating across the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Kate Palmer, Associate Director of Advisory at Peninsula, has issued the following advice:

“Despite growing concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, it is important not to act too hastily in responding to it.

“While we may see an increasing number of companies exploring new ways to prevent the spread of the virus, such as closing offices and banning all forms of physical contact like handshakes, it should be remembered that the risk of contracting the virus in the UK remains relatively low.”

However, Palmer does urge businesses to also keep the following in mind:

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to the Hubei province, which includes Wuhan and Xiangfan.

“It also warns against all, but essential travel to the rest of mainland China and, in any case, some airlines have suspended flights to mainland China.

“Employers should consider alternatives, which may include postponing a business trip until the risk of infection no longer exists, or carrying out meetings via Skype or video conferencing, where possible.

“If an individual has recently travelled back from severely affected areas like Iran and parts of Northern Italy, the government is currently advising that they self-isolate even if no symptoms are present.

“If employees who fall into this category attempt to come to work, they should be reminded of these instructions and instructed to go home for the stated period.

“Alternatively, the employee could be allowed to take this period as annual leave or provided the opportunity to work from home while they see if they do start to show symptoms.

“For employees travelling back from other affected areas, which at this moment includes Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore, they may decide to self-isolate if they feel they have been exposed.

This can help reduce the risk that the employee feels compelled to attend work and by doing so, put other employees at risk of catching the virus.

Some employers may nevertheless choose not to pay employees in this situation. While this is not unlawful, employers should be consistent in their approach if more than one employee is affected to avoid claims of less favourable treatment.”

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