Looking after your workforce during the Covid-19 crisis is essential to your business. Re-starting your processes is one thing replacing your people is another entirely. And, of course you have a duty of care during the crisis. So, what should you be doing?
There is a significant risk to your employees from Covid-19. Older employees and those with underlying health conditions are at high risk and the disease could prove fatal, as is well known.
Employees should only be travelling to work where absolutely necessary and if homeworking is an option, we have a blog on the subject here.
Working away from the home (on your premises or, for example, at clients)
The Government has released significant amounts of guidance for employers who have employees continuing to work.
The website below provides their guidance on good practice, social distancing in the workplace and other relevant material:
This website provides links to sector specific guidance on social distancing:
There is care sector guidance, including when PPE should be used:
Have a point of informed contact for all employees whether working from home, furloughed or not.
Keep in touch with all employees and be prepared to re-assure anxious ones that you are taking all the required precautions.
Ask how each employee travels to work. If there are risks here (from public transport for example) see if you can work with them to reduce the risk.
Check employees ages and enquire into health problems. See vetting, below. If it is not safe for them to come to work, you must not allow them to do so. You will probably be able to furlough them in these circumstances.
Being “OCD” over cleaning kitchen and communal areas, handrails, door handles and providing soap and sanitisers. There is guidance for workplaces, offices, waiting rooms etc. here.
Pregnant women merit a higher level of protection from risks at work. A risk assessment is necessary in any event. Where suitable employment is not available you must suspend on medical grounds and pay full pay until the fourth week before the expected week of childbirth. Depending on the circumstances it may be possible to furlough the employee.
Vetting employees. Employees who have undiagnosed, but suspicious Covid-19 symptoms need to self-isolate. They should not be at work. Depending on the working environment you may want a simple questionnaire to establish that employees do not have suspicious symptoms. The main symptoms of coronavirus are:
- a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
- a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual). Source NHS.uk
The right to take an employee’s temperature is similar to the rights associated with drug-testing at work – consent is needed unless there is a contractual right. You will need to treat employees’ temperature records as “Special category” personal data.
Introduce or review appropriate policies
You may want to check you have the following, or review as appropriate:
- Use of own devices
- Social networking
- Internet and email
- Data protection
- Maternity and family policies
Note: if you are a client of Employer Solutions we have reviewed your policies and will continue to do so.
Government guidance changes continually and employer’s problems can be specific. If you have issues not covered here, please contact us.
Malcolm Martin FCIPD
Author Human Resource Practice
Blogs are for general guidance and are not an authoritative statement of the law.