Keeping Your Workplace Covid-Secure
It is the responsibility of every employer to ensure that they have taken reasonable measures to minimise the risk of spreading COVID-19 and keep all members of staff safe. What measures should employers be taking? First and foremost, guidance and regulations are updated frequently, so it is imperative that you have a process to keep you in the loop with the latest information, update your internal policy and processes accordingly, and communicate these changes to all temporary and permanent employees swiftly and effectively.
As an employer, you should be carrying out regular risk assessments and amending your action plan accordingly; this may include the following measures:
Temperature checks for staff and visitors upon arrival.
Provide hand washing/sanitising stations and PPE (if applicable).
Making sure that every employee has read, understood, and has access to your latest COVID-secure risk assessment and outcomes.
Update your office signage - from room capacities to marking the areas and devices that are currently out of use. It is also best practice to display additional signage that prompts staff and visitors to wash their hands regularly, maintain social distancing and wear a face covering (where applicable).
Update/negotiate home working and flexible working arrangements where possible - allowing staff to minimise their commuting and better protect themselves and their families, while still carrying out their work commitments.
Individual risk assessments for employees in high-risk categories - schedule follow up assessments for any employees whose circumstances may change over time.
Regular communication with all employees - to ensure that they understand the measures they are expected to adhere to and the potential repercussions that may occur if they fail to do so. For example, employees are required by law* to notify their employers of their requirement to self-isolate and the relevant dates that this will apply. Failure to do so can result in a criminal offence and fines of up to ¬£10,000 (both employers and employees can be liable for this fine).
Health and wellbeing - consider the provision of an employee assistance programme that may offer advice, counselling and personal support services to all members of staff.
It is crucial that both employers and staff understand their legal obligations under the latest regulations else they may risk significant financial penalties. A breach of government guidance may also result in reputational damage and a breach of health and safety legislation.
If your organisation requires further assistance and guidance regarding keeping your office COVID secure, get in touch. We are happy to discuss best practices with you or point you in the right direction for legal advice.
*The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Self-Isolation) (England) Regulations 2020), otherwise known as the ‘Self-Isolating Regulations’ came into force at midnight on the 28th September and they apply in England only.