To avoid potential discrimination, maintain a balanced and consistent approach to all employees, regardless of race, nationality or ethnicity.
Whilst humour and “banter” can be light relief in difficult times, make clear that harassment, bullying or jokes relating to race, nationality or ethnicity is not permitted. Failure to address such banter could lead to a discrimination claim, for which you could be liable unless you have taken reasonable steps to prevent this. This would involve having an equality policy in place, training on those policies and tackling breaches.
In addition, someone who is particularly anxious might get very worried about jokes and banter.
Also bear in mind potential disability discrimination claims, as anyone with an underlying health condition might need particular or additional adjustments to protect them. If you fail to consider these, it could be discriminatory.
Finally, keep in mind the duty owed to pregnant workers and listen to any concerns they may have in respect of the virus.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice