Employers are not obliged to pay employees who decide to stay at home as a safety precaution after travelling from an area with a coronavirus outbreak, according to an expert.

However, Employment Law Specialist Richard Grogan said that from a health and safety perspective, employers should tell at-risk or sick staff to stay at home, which is "just good business", as no one wants their entire workforce to get sick.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Mr Grogan said that if a staff member has visited Wuhan in China or somewhere in northern Italy, for example, they should let their employer know.

In those instances, he said, he imagined that employers would encourage employees to self-isolate.

Mr Grogan cautioned against telling Chinese or Italian staff members to stay at home, saying this could be seen as discrimination.

He said that employers need to get their "policies out there" for staff to see, including sick leave and health policies.

He said isolating someone in the workplace who has returned from an area with a coronavirus outbreak is a very dangerous thing for an employer to do.

However, employers could ask staff members in these situations to take precautions, such as wearing a mask.

Mr Grogan said employers could warn employees intending to travel to areas with a coronavirus outbreak, such as northern Italy, that they may be unable to allow them to return to the workplace directly after the holiday because it would be a health and safety risk.

Consumer rights amid coronavirus outbreak

The CEO of Consumers' Association of Ireland said people will be entitled to a refund or re-routing if travel plans within the EU are disrupted as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

Dermot Jewell said there were great protections within the EU, but outside of this jurisdiction, passengers need to engage with all of the parties involved in their travel, such as airlines and hotels.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Jewell said this was a learning experience for everyone.