COVID-19 How To Work Safely
In this COVID-19 Employment Law Update, Employment & Dispute Resolution Solicitor and Head of our Penistone branch, Robert Bates, discusses how to work safely during the coronavirus outbreak.
This week the Government announced that, for the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal physical workplace, wherever possible. However all workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. To facilitate this the Government has issued 8 guides (see here for gov.uk link) to improve safety in the workplace.
The 8 guides cover:
• Construction and other outdoor work
• Factories, plants and warehouses
• Labs and research facilities
• Offices and contact centres (and similar indoor environments)
• Other people’s homes (working in, visiting or delivering to)
• Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery
• Shops and branches
Some employers will only be concerned with one guide, for example those engaged in professional services which is limited to office work. Other employers will need to consider more than one guide, for example an employer engaging staff on the factory floor, in the back office and in delivery vehicles will need to consider the three relevant guides.
Looking at Offices and contact centres as an example, the guide is broken down into sections which begin with a key objective:
• Section 1 Thinking about risk
Objective: That all employers carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment.
• Section 2 Who should go to work
Objective: That everyone should work from home, unless they cannot work from home.
• Section 3 Social distancing at work
Objective: To maintain 2m social distancing wherever possible, including while arriving at and departing work, while in work and when travelling between sites.
• Section 4 Managing your customers, visitors and contractors
Objective: To minimise the number of unnecessary visits to offices.
• Section 5 Before reopening
Objective: To make sure that any site or location that has been closed or partially operated is clean and ready to restart, including: an assessment for all sites, or parts of sites, that have been closed before restarting work; and carrying out cleaning procedures and providing hand sanitiser before restarting work.
• Section 6 PPE and face coverings
• Section 7 Shift patterns and working groups
Objective: To change the way work is organised to create distinct groups and reduce the number of contacts each employee has.
• Section 8 Inbound and outbound goods
Objective: To maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the site.
When digesting the details set out in the main body of the guides and considering how to apply it to the realities on the ground, employers would do well to keep the key objectives of the guide in mind at all times.
In these challenges times, what is clear is the importance of employers having access to specialist legal support. We developed our fixed fee service, Jordans HR, to help employers and give them certainty on costs. Whether you have no HR resources or a HR Manager in need of support, we can help with everything from day-to-day staff issues to complex disputes.
Jordans Solicitors – here to support your business
In this period of ongoing uncertainty, our Employment department is ready to offer support for both employers and employees.
Whether it’s regarding the CJRS, furloughing, redundancies and/or settlement agreements, we are here to help navigate your business through these difficult times.