During this period of social distancing, there can be concerns over what rights you might have to exclude customers and staff if you are operating premises where employees and members of the public will be mixing, such as shops, bars and restaurants.
Here, we consider some of the questions we are being asked by clients with premises of this nature.
Can we check the temperature of our customers upon visiting the store?
As a shop/pub/restaurant business, you are generally entitled to set your own rules of entry, as long as these are not discriminatory and therefore contrary to the Equality Act 2010 or otherwise criminal. On this basis, we would suggest, at the very least, placing notices at the entrances to the premises, notifying customers not to enter the premises if suffering any symptoms which might be associated with COVID-19; and reserving rights to request people to leave if they display any such symptoms.
In order to check the temperature of any employee or customer you would need to have their consent (without this it would amount to a criminal assault) and to be able to evidence this. It is therefore unlikely to be advisable to proceed down this route, and you should rely solely on the general rights to deny entry and to request people to leave.
Can we disallow entry to any person who has a high temperature or other COVID-19 symptoms?
Yes – as outlined above you have the right to refuse entry to anybody as long as you are not discriminating and you make it clear what the reason is. You must however act consistently and in a non-discriminatory way, for example, you should not be targeting a specific racial group simply because they are from one of the affected nationalities.
Can we refuse entry to any person who is a companion of a person who has a high temperature or other COVID-19 symptoms?
Yes, see above. You have the right to refuse entry to anybody as long as you are not discriminating.
Can we ask an employee who exhibits any of the COVID-19 symptoms to go home and self-quarantine?
Yes. This would also be classed as incapacity following revision to statutory sick pay regulations. However, the employee has to be displaying COVID-19 symptoms or any other symptoms as per guidance by the Government (e.g. new persistent dry cough etc). If the decision is made for any of these reasons, then they will qualify for statutory sick pay. If the decision is made for any reasons outside Government advice, the employee would have to be on full pay, as this would effectively be a medical suspension.
What will be the applicable rules in relation to period of leave?
The quarantine period should be for minimum 14 days following display of symptoms and until the person is clear of them. Government advice can be found here.
You should also follow this very good guidance from ACAS.
The guidance is changing rapidly and so you should ensure you keep abreast of any changes to guidance which may be put out by the Government or organisations such as ACAS.
Can we issue statements if there is an employee/customer who is found to be positive with COVID-19?
If the affected person is an employee, you need to consider whether to close the site for a deep clean if the employee was present at that site for a period of time. The same applies if the affected person is a customer.
In this respect, in both cases, you should notify Public Health England and follow their guidance as to any statements which might be released.
What information can we indicate in the statement?
Public Health England will ask for details but otherwise follow their guidance. Any employees in contact with the affected employee/customer should also be placed into self-isolation.
The current position is fast moving and questions will develop as time passes. Howes Percival has a number of specialist solicitors across our sectors who are able to assist with any queries. In relation to the information in this note, your key points of contact are:
Employment: Alex Payton (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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