Following the release of the UK’s COVID-19 recovery strategy, the government has published employer guidance to help get businesses back up and running.
Phase one of the recovery plan announced, coming into effect Wednesday May 13, stated that
if a worker cannot work from home, they should go to their workplace if it is open.
Therefore, the government has published new new guidance, covering eight workplace settings which are allowed to be open, from outdoor environments and construction sites to factories and takeaways.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said the government has consulted approximately 250 stakeholders in preparing the guidance, which sets out practical steps for businesses to implement as soon as possible:
1. Work from home, if you can
All reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home. But for those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close, the message is clear: you should go to work. Staff should speak to their employer about when their workplace will open.
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 the government expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.
3. Maintain two metres social distancing, wherever possible
Employers should redesign 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.
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.
The guidance applies to businesses currently open. This also includes guidance for shops, which the government believes will be in a position to open in phases from June 1.
Guidance for other sectors that are not currently open will be developed and published ahead of those establishments opening to give those businesses time to plan.
The government will shortly set up taskforces to work with the remaining sectors to develop safe ways for them to open at the earliest point at which it is safe to do so, as well as pilot re-openings to test businesses’ ability to adopt the guidelines.