Lockdown eased further as of 12th April as part of the governments 4 step plan, providing the opportunity for many more businesses to reopen.
We look at areas to consider when it comes to how to reopen your workplace after COVID and why it is so important for businesses to follow government guidance.
Complying with COVID secure guidance
In order to reopen, businesses must work within COVID secure guidance issued by the government.
14 guides covering a range of different types of work have been issued and businesses should use these guides to create environments which keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Your business will need to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment and implement the actions set out in the COVID secure guide(s) which represent the type of business that you run.
Notices are available for your business to display to demonstrate that you have made your workplace COVID secure.
The Health and safety Executive (HSE) have also issued a range of guidance around making your workplace COVID secure and keeping workplaces safe as restrictions ease.
Engaging with COVID workplace testing programmes
Testing is a big area that the government are focusing on and are encouraging businesses of all sizes to engage with. There are a number of different ways that your business and employees can access testing including:
Symptom free testing
As a business you were able to register your business by the 12th April to order free rapid lateral flow tests for your employees. Testing can then be carried out on site at your workplace, or employees can collect tests from you to complete at home if you cannot provide testing in the workplace. These tests are for those who do not show symptoms of Coronavirus.
If you did not register your business by the 12th April, you are no longer able to do so. In this case, the government state that you can:
- Work with a paid provider to provide testing
- Direct employees to other sources of free testing. As of Friday 9th April, everyone in England without symptoms of COVID-19 can now receive regular free rapid flow tests to check for coronavirus. Your employees can find details of how to access this free testing on the gov.uk site.
Do refer to the full guidance relating to your obligations and duties as an employer when it comes to providing workplace testing on the government website.
Testing for those with COVID-19 symptoms
As an employer you should also encourage employees to engage with NHS Test and Trace when they display symptoms of COVID-19 and follow the right steps to get a test if they do have symptoms.
Ensure that you as an employer also comply with your duties related to NHS Test and Trace such as following the correct steps if any of your workers test positive and not knowingly allowing a member of staff to come to work if they have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.
Reinforcing basic messaging
Whilst included in the COVID secure guidance, it is important that as an employer you continue to reiterate the importance of ongoing adherence to some of the more basic methods linked with reducing the transmission of COVID-19
- Regular and thorough handwashing
- Use of face coverings when necessary and when mandated
- Maintaining social distancing
Why it so important for employers to reopen workplaces safely after COVID
We looked recently at the importance of employers complying with their duties to take all reasonable care for the health and safety of their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Failing to do so may see employers face potential claims for alleged negligence or breach of duty of care.
- Employers may start to face personal injury claims relating to COVID-19 from employees. Whether linked directly to COVID-19 or indirectly (issues arising from working from home or changes to the nature of an employees work for example)
- There is an essential need for employers to keep records around their compliance with COVID-19 guidance for the workplace
- The need to start to prepare now for the return to work in a post vaccine world
Read our recent blog addressing the issues above and those linked to COVID-19 and employers liability insurance.
With lockdown beginning to gradually ease and businesses reopening, do get in touch with us at Anthony Jones if you have any questions about an existing business insurance policy or are reviewing your business insurance needs at this time. Contact us on 020 8290 9080 or email us at email@example.com.