Time to stop working from home?
The Government is keen to encourage people back to ‘normal’, not least to help rejuvenate the UK’s empty town centres. It also wants to see the end of the expensive furlough scheme. But any changes have to be made safely, and the regulations are reviewed every three weeks. Here’s a brief overview of the latest situation for employers and employees.
Are you an employer?
The guidelines state you should allow employees to continue working from home if they can. In fact, you might have found that working from home is equally productive and saves you money on office expenses, so it could benefit your business to continue working this way. As you know, you have a duty of care to employees. So, if you need your people to come back to the workplace, you’ll have to provide them with a safe working environment. This means you should do a Covid risk assessment, and:
- Ensure 2m social distancing (or 1m with masks)
- Arrange back-to-back or side-by-side working
- Set up one-way systems
- Allow staggered start and finish times
- Organise frequent cleaning
- Install extra hand-washing facilities
- Minimise visitors to your site
- Keep ‘test and trace’ records of everyone on your premises
As always, you’ll need to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ for anybody who is disabled. You should also be flexible when dealing with employee concerns. Extra rules apply if your business is in construction, manufacturing or hospitality. Failing to take ‘reasonable measures’ to protect your staff from infection is an offence in Wales, and may lead to a fine. If you have any questions about your responsibilities, please let us know.
Are you an employee?
With restrictions slowly starting to lift, your boss might eventually ask you to stop working from home and come back to the workplace. Even if you were labelled ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’, the advice that you should stay shielding at home has now ended. However, you shouldn’t go into work if:
- You’re self-isolating because you have symptoms of coronavirus
- You’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive for coronavirus
- You’re in quarantine after travelling abroad
If you commute on public transport, you should try to avoid peak travel times, keep the windows open and wear a face covering (unless you’re exempt). If you’re in a customer-facing role, such as retail, you’ll need to wear a face covering . If you don’t feel safe at work, you can contact your local authority, Citizens Advice or the Health & Safety Executive. We can also help in any dispute with your employer.
For more information, please follow the link below or talk to anyone in our Employment Law team.