We’re sure many of you are worried about how we will get through, or if our businesses will survive, the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. To help you we have started collating some of the information available on what you as an employer can do to continue working safely during coronavirus.
For government published guidance, please visit gov.uk/coronavirus.
In order to continue working and doing so safely during coronavirus (COVID-19), there is some clear guidance published by various government departments. The guidance is broken down into specific guidance for:
- schools, further education and childcare providers
- weddings and civil partnership ceremonies and receptions and celebrations
- public transport operators
In addition there is guidance on specific sectors such as close contact services, construction and outdoor work, restaurants, pubs, bars, takeaways, etc.
New National Restrictions from 5 November
From Thursday 5 November until Wednesday 2 December, you must:
- Stay at home, except for specific purposes.
- Avoid meeting people you do not live with, except for specific purposes.
- Close certain businesses and venues.
Please read the full guidance on these new national restrictions here.
Please note that the process of applying for, and getting approved for a Kickstart Scheme grant is unaffected by national lockdowns. Indeed, we estimate the process takes a minimum of 6 weeks from application to approval, so we encourage employers who wish to make use of the scheme to continue to submit applications even if a national lockdown is currently in place.
Current COVID alert levels
Depending on the alert level, different restrictions apply for:
Things your business can do to protect staff and clients
The safety of your staff, clients and customers is paramount, and you will need to implement safety measures in order to mitigate or control any risks you identify that may affect their safety.
There are currently seven priority actions. Please check the gov.uk site regularly on the guidelines relevant to your type of workplace:
1. Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment
Once completed, share it with your staff so they understand any risks and what actions have been taken to mitigate or control them.
If you haven’t conducted a risk assessment, don’t worry, the assessment process is quite straightforward.
You need to identify where there is a possible risk of virus transmission, for example the kitchen kettle. This item is handled by most employees throughout the day.
Once you have identified a risk, and depending on how high the risk level is, discuss:
- who would be at risk
- how likely it is that they will be exposed to the risk
- what to do about it
Once you have carried out all the tasks identified during the risk assessment, you will have a series of mitigations, for example:
- implementing social distancing measures
- staggering shifts
- cleaning the office more often
- providing hand sanitiser, etc.
…then you can feel confident that you can operate a safe working environment for staff and clients.
Here is a handy guide on conducting a risk assessment.
2. Clean more often
A no brainer really, increase the frequency with which surfaces are cleaned, especially those that are being touched a lot. Ask your staff and clients to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.
3. Ask your customers to wear face coverings
In any indoor space or where required to do so by law. Check when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own.
4. Make sure everyone is social distancing
The trick here is to make it easy for everyone to keep their distance for example, putting up signs, introducing one-way systems, rearranging desks to provide more space between them, etc.
5. Increase ventilation
By keeping doors and windows open where possible and running ventilation systems at all times.
6. NHS Test and Trace records
As required by law, keeping a record of all your customers for 21 days. Some exceptions apply. Check ‘Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace’ for details.
7. Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away
If a staff member (or someone in their household) or a customer has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating.
Then depending on your type of workplace, there are 5 specific things to be aware of. Please check the relevant section here for what’s specific to you. You can find it at the bottom of the Priority actions to take – what businesses need to do to protect staff and customers section.
Meet regularly with staff to discuss the current government guidelines and advice.
You can also use this forum to communicate any changes:
- to safety measures that needed addressing or:
- to mitigate any new risks identified, and:
- including those needed to support new government regulations and advice, and any other relevant information related to safely operating your business.