The government has published practical guidelines to help give people the confidence to go back to work during the pandemic and make sure that workplaces are as safe as possible.
In all, five key points have been established and these should be implemented as soon as is practical. The first is that people should still continue to work from home if they can, employers taking all reasonable steps to help those who can do this.
However, if people can’t work from home and their workplace hasn’t been told to close, they should go to work – and speak directly with employers about when workplaces will reopen.
Secondly, a COVID-19 risk assessment should be carried out, consulting with employees or trade unions. This will establish what guidelines need to be implemented to facilitate the safe return to work. All businesses with more than 50 employees are expected to publish the results of their risk assessments on their websites.
Workspaces should also be redesigned to maintain a distance of 2m between people and staggering start times. Opening more entrances and exits, changing seating layouts in break rooms and creating one-way walkthroughs were included, as well.
If it is impossible for people to be 2m apart or more, barriers should be installed in shared spaces to manage transmission risk. Other options were devising shift patterns or fixed teams to reduce the amount of contact between people and making sure that colleagues face away from each other.
Cleanliness of workplaces should also be a top priority, ensuring that they’re cleaned more frequently and with particular attention to door handles and keyboards, which are touched more frequently than other objects.
“These are practical steps to enable employers to identify risks that COVID-19 creates and to take pragmatic measures to mitigate them.
“And as we are able to reopen new sectors of the economy, we will continue our collaborative approach working with a wide range of stakeholders, to provide guidance for additional workplaces,” business secretary Alok Sharma said.
The governor’s job retention scheme has now been extended until the end of October, with furloughed workers all over the UK able to continue receiving 80 per cent of their current salary, up to £2,500.
Official stats now show that the job retention scheme has protected nearly one million businesses and protected 7.5 million workers. It will continue as it is now until the end of July and then changes will be brought in to allow more flexibility from the beginning of August.
Director-general of the CBI Dame Carolyn Fairbairn did say, however, that the virus is unpredictable and the government will need to continue keeping an eye on those employees and industries that remain at risk. It will be necessary to review all schemes in place in order to minimise the impact on livelihoods and ensure that businesses thrive.
For advice relating to private apprenticeship programmes, get in touch with Encompass today.