What small hospitality businesses can do for their staff during the COVID-19 Crisis

By Phil Scoble


With Coronavirus hitting the UK, many small hospitality business owners will be worried about what they can do to mitigate the worst effects of the crisis.

It seems that our industry is caught right in the middle of this once-in-a-lifetime event, and the speed of changes in advice are bewildering. 

So what can you do? 

We are going to lay out the situation as it stands with regards to any employees you might have: their rights, how you can claim from the government to protect yourself from costs and what the long-term outlook is. 

Do remember that this situation is fluid and we will try to keep this post updated when new information comes to light…

Sick Pay

If you have staff who have to self-isolate because they or someone they live with is showing symptoms or is in a high risk group, you may be worried about the costs to you. Here’s the facts from the Government:

  • Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is now paid from the first day of sickness, not the fourth as was the case before coronavirus  – SSP is £94.25 a week
  • If you employ less than 250 people, you can claim back up to two weeks of Statutory Sick Pay for each employee who has to self isolate
  • You will need to track the employees who self-isolate, but they won’t need a fit note 
  • The new payment system will be backdated to March 13
  • The employer must pay the sick pay, and then claim it back from the Government – the system for claiming this back is not yet in operation, however

Zero Hours Contracts 

Your employees are still entitled to SSP even if they are on a zero hours contract if:

  • They are a registered employee
  • They earn on average more than £118 a week before tax

Looking after your employees

Hand wash and sanitation 

Make sure you set up a hand wash station or stations that are near to your main work areas, and provide as much hand sanitisers and wipes as you can. Encourage everyone who works for you to use them as much as possible.


We can’t stress how important it is to keep communicating with your staff – if an employee has to self-isolate, inform the rest of the team quickly and simply. Be honest about any changes to working practices, but keep things as calm as possible – everyone is taking every day as it comes. 

High Risk

Are any of your employees in high-risk groups? This could mean those over 70, those with underlying health conditions and those who are pregnant. Take the time to discuss whether you need special measures to protect them, or if they will need to self-isolate. Support and facilitate whatever is the right action to protect their health. 


Make sure you update your emergency contact details for your employees.


These are worrying times for business owners, but they are also hugely stressful times for your staff. Consider them, their needs and the actions you need to contain the virus. 

For more information on the outbreak and what you can do as a business owner, here are some information links from the Government: 

Symptoms and what to do about them: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Advice for different sectors: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance

Advice and help for businesses: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

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