For many employers ‘Freedom Day’ resulted in little change, however employers should be aware that the government has updated the ‘Working Safety Guidance’ to provide advice on “sensible precautions” employers can take to manage risk now that ‘social distance rules no longer apply. This guidance sits alongside employers’ existing legal obligations relating to health and safety and employment law.
The guidance confirms (amongst other things) that:
there should be a ‘gradual return to the workplace’ and states that employers should discuss a return to the workplace with workers and trade unions to make working arrangements that meet both business and individual needs. Employers should of course also remember the importance of following their flexible working procedures where appropriate.
there are ‘priority actions’ organisations should take, including health and safety assessments, providing adequate ventilation, regular cleaning and communicating and providing training on safety measures.
the use of face coverings is still encouraged in enclosed or crowded spaces but that employers should be mindful of those with disabilities before requiring that a face covering is worn. Employers should also take advice as to whether the requirement to wear a face covering would be a ‘reasonable instruction’ for the purposes of disciplinary action.
employers should give extra consideration and support to workers who are at higher risk, and those facing mental and physical health difficulties.
The government has also published new guidance for employers on COVID-19 vaccinations, which includes information and resources to help promote the vaccination programme.
If you require assistance or need advice regarding the above, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team at anytime.