The government’s website GOV.UK provides guidance at “Working Safely – Find out how to make your workplace COVID-secure”. Detailed plans are set out for different workplaces, for example shops, offices vehicles and many others. If you and your employer are planning a return to the workplace this is a good place to start.
Whilst we should continue to work from home where possible, many of us are being called back to work in our workplaces.
Employees should be ready to go back in at short notice and employers must make sure that they plan properly. This includes consulting with staff through trade union representatives, staff representatives or health and safety representatives.
Employers need to make the workplace safe for their staff and their visitors. So, they will need to do a risk assessment and take reasonable steps to prevent anything that might cause harm. Both the GOV.UK and HSE websites have useful information.
The sooner that employers and employees start to plan together the better and topics for discussion might include
Some employees will be worried about returning to work and employers should listen to their concerns which may include worries about catching the virus, being especially vulnerable to its effects, living with someone who is shielding or child-care arrangements. If someone is still worried about returning then they can discuss taking the time as holiday or unpaid leave, though the employer does not have to agree to this.
Any plans around the return to the workplace should be put in writing and if there are any permanent changes to someone’s terms of employment then these should be agreed and set out in writing.