Government publishes COVID-19 Secure Guidelines to help employers operate workplaces safely

3 mins

Posted on 12 May 2020

The Government has now published COVID-19 Secure Guidelines to help employers get their businesses back up and running and their workplaces operating safely.

There are eight different sets of guidance covering the workplace settings that are allowed to open. It also includes guidance for shops which it believes may be in a position to begin a phased reopening from 1 June (at the earliest). The guidance sets out practical steps for businesses focused on 5 key points, which it says should be implemented as soon as it is practical. 

1. Work from home, if you can

Employers should take all reasonable steps to help people work from home. Where people cannot work from home and their workplace has not been told to close, they should go to work and should speak to their employer about when their workplace will open.

2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions

Employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and the Government expects all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.

3. Maintain 2 metres social distancing, wherever possible

Employers should re-design workspaces to maintain 2 metre distances between people by staggering start times, creating one way walk-throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.

4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage transmission risk

Employers should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.

5. Reinforcing cleaning processes

Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.

A downloadable notice is included in the guidance documents, which employers should display in their workplaces to show their employees, customers and other visitors to their workplace, that they have followed the guidance.

The Guidelines have been produced in with input from firms, unions, industry bodies and the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  The Guidelines cover the following workplaces:

  • Construction and other outdoor work
  • Factories, plants and warehouses
  • Labs and research facilities
  • Offices and contact centres
  • Other people's homes
  • Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery
  • Shops and branches
  • Vehicles

Guidance for other sectors that are not currently open will be developed and published ahead of them opening to give those businesses time to plan. The Government will also shortly set up taskforces to work with these sectors to develop safe ways for them to open at the earliest point at which it is safe to do so, as well as pilot re-openings to test businesses’ ability to adopt the guidelines.

You can access the COVID-19 Secure Guidelines here 

The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

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