Companies anticipating a return to the workplace in June, if the Government’s route map stays on track, should be planning how to protect workers and customers once the country is released from the current Covid-related restrictions.
Although the Government may decide that it is safe to relax regulations and recommendations around social distancing and large groups, the virus will still be circulating, and individuals could become infected or pass the virus on to others in the workplace.
Planning ahead and involving staff in the planning process is the best approach. By consulting and understanding worries around managing coronavirus, strategies can be developed, and workers reassured about how they will be kept safe, and how, in turn, they can keep others safe.
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 employers must take steps to protect employees, whether in the workplace or acting offsite in a work capacity. And all employers who have five or more in their workforce must have a written health and safety policy and make it available to employees.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the government body in charge of enforcing responsibilities, has developed a range of information for employers on how to make the workplace safe and protect staff as they return to the workplace.
As well as ensuring staff are safe within their place of employment, staff must be protected also when travelling on business. Ignoring this aspect could expose an employer to a potential compensation claim if an employee were to contract Covid-19 while travelling for work purposes.
Mental wellbeing should also be high on the agenda according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which has developed a Talking toolkit as a resource for employers to handle work-related stress. Further support is available via the Mental Health at Work charity.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.