Support for employers on returning to work
Practical guidelines have been published by the Government to make workplaces that can be open as safe as possible and give people the confidence to return to work during the coronavirus pandemic. The Government has also published guidance to help the retail industry plan for re-opening. Details of both can be found on this page.
1. Work from home, if you can
Enable your employees to work from home if their role permits. Otherwise, if your business is permitted to open and employees need to be in work, see the information below on how to operate safely.
Tip: More businesses are now able to operate since the initial lockdown. Unsure if you’re able to open your doors? Businesses which are required to remain closed are listed on the Government's website https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close.
The Chancellor has now confirmed the extension of the scheme until October. The current scheme entitles furloughed staff with 80% of their current salary, upto a maximum of £2,500. The scheme will continue in its current format until the end of July when staff will be permitted to work part time for their employers, however employers will be expected to contribute a percentage towards their furloughed staff.
More specific details regarding the scheme will be made available by the Government at the end of the month.
Where staff are not furloughed, are unable to work from home and where businesses are permitted to open, the following guidance applies:
2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions
This guidance operates within current health and safety employment and equalities legislation and employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and all businesses with over 50 employees are expected to do so.
Tip: The UK Government has provided advice on how to keep employees safe in your sector.
3. Maintain two metres social distancing, wherever possible
Employers should re-design workspaces to maintain two metre distances between people by staggering start times, creating one way walk-throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.
4. Where people cannot be two metres apart, manage transmission risk
Employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.
Applegate Marketplace, has launched a COVID-19 Supply Hub, arranging supply of items such as PPE and hand sanitiser to care providers, nursing agencies and others that need it. The service is free to use for those who need to source supplies, no commission is charged and suppliers can also join for free to maximise the reach of the service at this time. Visit their hub here.
5. Reinforcing cleaning processes
Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.
Covid can survive on certain surfaces for over 72 hours. Effective cleaning and disinfection of surfaces can prevent the spread of COVID-19. For more information please visit the Government's website https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings.
Advice for the retail industry
The Government has provided guidance for people who work in or run shops, branches, stores or similar environments.
Key details to note
- Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers.
- All other non-essential retail have been permitted to reopen since 15 June if they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines
- Businesses will only be able to open once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation
Meanwhile, together with Devon County Council (DCC), we are considering how to adapt public space to enable social distancing within the public realm. Further information is available on DCC's website.
Legionella advice for businesses
Employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, such as landlords, have a duty to identify and control risks associated with legionella.
If your building was closed or has reduced occupancy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.
You should review your risk assessment and manage the legionella risks to protect people when the water system is reinstated or returned to use.
If the water system is still used regularly, maintain the appropriate measures to prevent legionella growth.
You can find out what Legionnaires’ disease is, where it comes from, how people get it and symptoms and treatment by reading the Health and Safety Executive's guidance What is Legionnaires' disease?.