Can Your Boss Force You To Go Into Work During Lockdown?
At the time this blog was published, the UK was currently in a national lockdown which meant you could only leave home for work purposes. Whilst this guidance is current, it is regularly updated to sit alongside the ups and downs of the pandemic. Should you be reading this article in a few weeks or months time, then it might not be accurate anymore. We suggest you head to the government website for more up to date information.
What Are The Rules?
Current government guidance states that you should only go to work if you can’t reasonably work from home. Those that can’t work from home are usually employees that sit within the following sectors: critical national infrastructure, construction, manufacturing, childcare or education and essential public services. These are the people that are helping the country to stay running.
What Can Employers Do?
The Government has instructed employers and employees to discuss their working arrangements so that all members of staff feel safe in their workplace should they be unable to work remotely. Employers should be taking steps to allow their employees to work from home, this includes providing the necessary IT equipment. If they can’t provide such resources and an employee finds themselves in an office, then they should encourage staff to avoid coming into work during peak times if they use public transport.
To continue operating, businesses must make their offices covid secure. The government has published 14 guides on its website. Employers can use this content as reference to make sure they’re following the guidelines correctly. If you’re a business that operates in more than one setting, such as a factory, warehouse and office, then you might need to seek help from more than one guide.
For those working in an office or close contact centre based environment, first and foremost, you shouldn’t have any employees that are considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable individuals. That being said, your office can remain open, permitted it is covid secure. Below are some of the government guidelines to help maintain a safe working environment.
Conduct a Covid risk assessment.
Throughout this risk assessment, you must identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus, think about who could be at risk, decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed and act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk. You can find out how to conduct a covid 19 risk assessment here.
Insist all members of staff wash their hands frequently and use hand sanitiser on entering and leaving the premises. Make sure frequently used surfaces are wiped down and cleaned with appropriate products. You might want to consider taking on a professional cleaner or delegating some responsibilities to staff on a rota. Invest in antibacterial wipes for all staff and any other cleaning equipment that may be needed.
Wear face coverings
This rule applies more so to visitors including delivery drivers and postmen/women. This will keep your staff protected from any outside germs and bacteria.
Practice social distancing
Introduce a one way system and incorporate the use of floor markers so that staff and visitors can easily follow them. You may also want to reconfigure your office and move desks around so that people are at a safe distance.
Think about ventilation
By law, employers are required to supply an adequate amount of fresh air into the workplace. You can naturally ventilate an area by opening windows and doors to ensure there’s a fresh supply of air. You can find out more on ventilating your office here.
Play your part in NHS Track and Trace
Keep a register of all staff and visitors that have entered your premises for 21 days. This includes their name, contact details and time they were on the premises. You can read more information on NHS Track and Trace here.
Send people with covid 19 symptoms home
If a staff member, someone in their household or a visitor has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating at home. They must not enter the workplace to collect any personal belongings. They must stay at home. From 28 September 2020, by law businesses may not require a self-isolating employee to come into work.
Should There Be Tougher Rules ?
In an article published yesterday by the BBC, it’s come to light that in some cases, employees are being forced to come into work much to the dismay of trade unions.
Trade Unions are now calling for tougher enforcement of Covid safety rules at work, due to the amount of employees being put at risk. Between the 6th and 14 January, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is said to have received 3,934 complaints relating to coronavirus and took enforcement action in 81 cases.
On the whole, employers are doing the best they can, but in some instances there is complete and utter disregard for their employees.
If employees are unhappy, and feel unsafe at work then they can contact their local authority or the Health and Safety Executive.
How Ampios Can Help
If you’re feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and need help at your business, then we can help. We can work with your people and can help align the overall vision and strategy of your company. If you need to get in touch, we’d love to have a chat. Give us a call on T: +44 (0)333 987 4672 or send us a message via our contact form.