There have been many headaches for employers over the last nine months; keeping employees safe from Covid whilst still running a business or organisation has been a painful and persistent one. An employer has a duty to take reasonable care of their employees' health and safety; in the current environment, this means ensuring that workplaces are "Covid secure" and, where this is not possible, to ensure appropriate and necessary PPE is made available.
"Covid secure" is another one of those buzz words for 2020! To ensure a workplace is Covid Secure, employers must do the following;
- ensure comprehensive and ongoing risk assessments are in place for all working areas
- ensure specific risk assessments are in place before vulnerable employees attend the workplace (note clinically extremely vulnerable employees should not be attending work)
- minimise or eradicate all risks that the assessments highlight with appropriate measures be they more cleaning stations, better ventilation, fewer people in the workspace etc.
- treat these risk assessments as work in progress; as the R level goes up and down and levels of lockdown are changed, employers should be revisiting these assessments and checking their effectiveness
- be prepared to talk through these assessments with employees who are concerned about infection; listen to their concerns, take on board appropriate and reasonable suggestions - collaboration is better than confrontation
- understand claims from employees under s44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (listen to ACS podcast for more information here ) - employees who refuse to attend work as they feel they might be in serious and imminent danger
- be realistic that there will be Covid cases within your workplace - if it happened at the White House and Downing Street it can happen anywhere! Ensure sign in processes are clear and followed by employees so it is easy to identify any co-workers who will need to be contacted and self-isolate
For further information please do contact anyone in our team.
Covid: What does my boss have to do to keep me safe? Prime Minister Boris Johnson is self-isolating after coming into close contact with MP Lee Anderson, who later tested positive for coronavirus. For workplaces that remain open in England, employers must "carry out an appropriate Covid-19 risk assessment" to develop a "specific" strategy to stop the virus's spread.