COVID-19: guidance on return to work

Following the recent announcement by the Prime Minister that employees who could not work from home should be ‘actively encouraged to go to work’, new guidance has been published to help employers to operate safe workplaces.

There are also 8 guides for employers containing non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with existing health and safety obligations. The guides cover types of workplace and employers who operate more than one type of workplace will need to familiarise themselves with more than one of the guides.

The 5 key points in the guidance are:

  • Employers should help employees work from home, if possible. Workplaces that are allowed to be open and whose employees cannot work from home should prepare for employees to return to work.
  • Employers should carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions. All businesses with over 50 employees are expected to publish the results of their risk assessments on their website.
  • Employers should change the design of workspaces to maintain 2 metres social distancing between workers where possible, by staggering start times, creating one-way systems, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts.
  • Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and, if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff, for example, by putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.
  • Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points and ensure workplaces are cleaned more frequently.

Included in the documents is a downloadable notice, which employers are required to display to show their employees, customers and other visitors to their workplace, that they have followed the guidance.

Warning: this news item is not a substitute for legal advice. The information may be incorrect or out of date and does not constitute a definitive or complete statement of the law. This news item is not intended to constitute legal advice in any specific situation. Readers should obtain legal advice and not rely on the information in this article.