The government’s newly published 50 page document entitled ‘Our plan to rebuild’ and updated guidelines for ‘working safely during coronavirus’ have provided some further guidance for employers, including the following:
- For the foreseeable future, workers should continue to work from home wherever possible.
- All workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. Sectors of the economy that are allowed to be open should be open, e.g. food production, construction and manufacturing. The only exceptions to this are those workplaces such as hospitality and nonessential retail, which must remain closed.
- As soon as practicable, workplaces should follow the new “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines and Boris Johnson has also stated that there will be ‘spot inspections’ to make sure businesses are keeping employees safe.
It is therefore essential that employers are fully up to date in relation to the guidelines including carrying out (and publishing) a COVID-19 risk assessment (in consultation with workers or trade unions) and maintaining 2 metres social distancing or, where this is not possible, taking steps to manage the transmission risk. There are also now 8 workplace guidance documents available providing further guidance as follows:
- Construction and other outdoor work
- Factories, plants and warehouses
- Labs and research facilities
- Offices and contact centres
- Other people’s homes
- Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery
- Shops and branches
- Anyone who has symptoms, however mild, or is in a household where someone has symptoms, should still self-isolate, as should those in their households.
- Paid childcare, for example nannies and childminders, can take place subject to being able to meet the public health principles.
- When travelling everybody should continue to avoid public transport wherever possible.
People should aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, e.g. on public transport or in some shops. A face covering is not the same as a facemask, such as the surgical masks used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers.
STEP 2: expected to be no earlier than Monday 1 June
- The Government expects children to be able to return to early years settings, and for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to be back in school in smaller sizes. The Government’s ambition is for all primary school children to return to school before the summer for a month if feasible, though this will be kept under review. Secondary schools and further education colleges are to prepare to begin some face to face contact but only with Year 10 and 12 pupils. Boris Johnson has acknowledged that this means it will be difficult for some parents to get back to work and we would recommend that employer’s take full advice in relation to any employees who may not be able to return to work because of childcare.
- Opening non-essential retail, when and where it is safe to do so, and subject to those retailers being able to follow the new COVID-19 Secure guidelines. The intention is for this to happen in phases from 1 June. All other sectors that are currently closed, including hospitality and personal care, are not able to re-open at this point.
Step Three: expected to be no earlier than 4 July
- The ambition is to open at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close, including personal care (such as hairdressers and beauty salons) hospitality (such as food service providers, pubs and accommodation), public places (such as places of worship) and leisure facilities (like cinemas). They should meet the COVID-19 Secure guidelines. Some venues which are, by design, crowded and where it may prove difficult to enact distancing may still not be able to re-open safely at this point, or may be able to open safely only in part.
An announcement has also been made today by the government in respect of the Furloughed leave scheme with an extension and a reduction in payments expected. Please see our next update for further information.
If you have any questions in relation to this article, please contact a member of our Employment team, who will be very happy to help you.