Coronavirus - Workplace Guidance for Employers
We list below a few of the current considerations for employers:
Employees visiting a place of work
Currently the Government guidance is to maintain a distance of 2 meters apart from others wherever possible. Remind employees about it and encourage them to respect this rule in the office as much as possible.
Remember - ‘Hands. Face. Space’:
hands – wash hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds
face – wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet
space – stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with where possible, or 1 metre with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings)
It is important to continually remind employees about how to avoid infection:
Wear a face covering
Social distance yourself from others
Wash your hands, thoroughly and often
Operate a one-way route for people and vehicles
Adopt the policy for meeting visitors, customers and suppliers
Wipe down surfaces, door handles and shared equipment
Toilets – reduce occupancy to one person at any time
Kitchens – restrict use of the communal fridge, encourage bringing-in of own drinks, cutlery and food, don’t share with others
Open windows for ventilation.
Managing meetings at work
- Internal Meetings
Deter face-to-face internal meetings. Use Microsoft Teams, Whatsapp, Zoom or similar video call platforms.
- Customer Meetings
Deter customer or supplier meetings at your premises. Use Microsoft Teams, Whatsapp, Zoom or similar video call platforms. Shops, retail outlets and takeaways (where open) are encouraged to avoid use of click and collect onsite collections and encourage collections out of doors where possible.
Managing employee sickness
If employees are feeling at all unwell they should not attend the workplace (for fear of spreading the virus to others) under any circumstances, and they should refer to the Employees who feel unwell, or have any of the Covid-19 symptoms should avoid coming into work and contact their employer to notify them of self-isolation. They should follow their employer’s coronavirus policy for procedures to follow regarding the infection of COVID-19.
Of course, those who do not display symptoms and come into work could spread the virus unwittingly, which is why the government’s ‘Hands’, ‘Face’, ‘Space’ instructions are so important, especially within the work environment.
Those living with someone vulnerable to the infection, should also be extra vigilant in the workplace.
Managing absences and sick leave
Some employers have introduced staggered working hours, screens between office desks and social distancing rules that might give confidence to returning employees currently WFH, or the suggestion of a return to the workplace, say, one day a week to begin with.
Employers should not worsen the fear or anxiety of employees by not listening to their needs, as putting them under increased pressure to attend the workplace when they are clearly ill or anxious (mental health is an illness) would be against the H&S Act. More serious situations, where people have been under their doctor with an absence or doctor’s certificate would need to be handled very sensitively to avoid making their health condition worse.
When employees are genuinely off sick due to a mental health condition, the employer needs to offer help and support to the person.
Employees travelling abroad
People can only travel internationally – or within the UK – where they first have a legally permitted reason to leave home. In addition, they should consider the public health advice in the country they are visiting.
Outside of coronavirus full Lockdown situations, any person returning from abroad is required to isolate for a period of 10 days. Similarly, if an employee lives with someone who has returned from overseas, the employee is to self-isolate at home as well. See more...
If an employee needs to travel overseas (and are legally permitted to do so, for example, because it is for work), even if they are returning to a place visited before, they should look at the rules in place at the destination and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) travel advice.
UK residents currently abroad do not need to return home immediately. However, they should check with their airline or travel operator on arrangements for returning. This means people (employees) cannot go on holiday abroad.
Foreign nationals are subject to the ‘Stay at Home’ regulations. They should not travel abroad unless it is permitted.