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Returning to work: How can employers ensure workplaces are COVID-Secure?

Following the Prime Minister’s speech on 10th May and subsequent updated guidance, many employees who cannot work from home are being asked to return to work from today.

The government has produced 8 guides to help employers ensure workplaces are as safe as possible to enable this return to work.

These 8 guides cover construction and outdoor work, factories, plants and warehouses, labs and research facilities, offices, other people’s homes, restaurants offering takeaway or delivery, shops and vehicles.

It is important to note that many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. If this is the case, these businesses may need to use more than one of these guides to prepare to keep people safe in their workplace.

The guidance sets out practical steps for businesses to ensure they are ‘COVID-secure’ and focusses on 5 key points, which businesses should implement as soon as it is practical:

  1. Work from home, if you canConstruction
  2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
  3. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible
  4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk
  5. Reinforce cleaning processes

It is important that businesses continue to comply with existing health and safety, employment or equalities obligations, including relating to individuals with protected characteristics, as the new guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities. The new guidance is not statutory and is described as a practical ‘framework’ for businesses.

The government is clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace and that businesses should think carefully about how they can ensure the health and safety of staff in the workplace as they continue or restart operations during the pandemic.

Contact our employment law specialists for further advice.

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