Coronavirus | London firm tells staff 'work from home'

London firm tells staff 'work from home'

Amid fears of the spread of coronavirus, Chevron Corp has told 300 British workers from its Canary Wharf office in London to temporarily work from home after an employee reported flu-like symptoms.

According to a report from Reuters, Chevron staff including traders, analysts and office staff were among those asked to work from home until test results determined whether the individual – who had not long returned from a country infected by coronavirus – had the virus.

A spokeswoman explained that the US-headquartered oil company is continuing to “monitor the situation very closely”.

While the company refused to provide the Financial Times with personal details of the employee, the spokeswoman added: “Our primary concern is the health and safety of our employees and we are taking precautionary measures to reduce their risk of exposure. It is our policy to not provide details of our employees.”

Coronavirus business fears

Chevron isn’t the first company to halt business as usual to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Starbucks and the Walt Disney Corporation previously shut down some of its branches, and two of its parks, to prevent further spread of the virus.

Earlier this month, Hong Kong’s flagship airline Cathay Pacific asked staff to take up to three weeks of unpaid leave in an attempt to contain the illness.

Elsewhere, global firms such as Microsoft, Apple, Google and Facebook imposed restrictions on non-essential travel to China, where the virus originated from.

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Since the virus has hit British shores, UK employers are now making plans to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Dr Daniel Fenton, Group Medical Director at Doctors Clinic Group told HR Grapevine that coronaviruses are quite common and are usually associated with flu-like symptoms. “However, the Wuhan variant is a new strain of the coronavirus that can cause serious illness,” Fenton explained.

Fenton said that there are several things UK employers can do to prevent the spread of coronavirus. If an employee that has recently travelled to China is suffering from a flu-like illness then they should seek advice from their GP over the phone. He also advises that if employees have travelled to Wuhan in China then they should stay at home for at least two weeks.

Karen Holden, Founder of A City Law Firm suggested that employers keep themselves updated when it comes to the virus while putting certain measures in place including working from home arrangements to prevent the spread. She previously told HR Grapevine: “It is important for employers to keep up to date with information from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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“It is advisable for all employers to have up to date staff/company handbooks and sickness procedures/policies which are reviewed annually and easily accessible to all employees. 

“Further, employers do have a duty to look after their staff and ensure that their wellbeing is looked after,” Holden added.

More than 81,000 people are known to be affected by coronavirus and more than 2,700 deaths have been recorded so far.

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