Work from home guidance to be lifted from 19 July
The Prime Minister has confirmed that work from home guidance is to be lifted when England moves to stage four of the Government’s roadmap for easing lock down restrictions. This is likely to be from 19 July, with final confirmation expected on 12 July.
In his statement at the coronavirus press conference on 5 July, Boris Johnson confirmed that it will no longer be necessary for Government to instruct people to work from home and employers can start to plan a return to workplaces.
Planning for a return to the workplace – what should employers be doing?
Some of the detail employers need to plan for a return to the workplace is outlined in the Summer 2021 Covid-19 Response which indicates that:
- Social distancing rules (2 metres or I metre plus other precautions) will be removed. However, people should continue to consider the risks of close contact with others, particularly if they are clinically extremely vulnerable or not yet fully vaccinated
- The ‘Working Safely’ guidance will be updated to provide examples of sensible precautions that employers can take to reduce risk in their workplaces. Employers should take this into account when preparing their risk assessments
- Businesses will be encouraged to ask staff and clients/customers to clean their hands regularly and to clean surfaces that people touch regularly
- The Government will provide guidance on how businesses can reduce unnecessary contact in the workplace, where practical
- Carbon dioxide monitors could be used to help identify where a space is poorly ventilated. Businesses will be encouraged to take steps to improve ventilation if CO2 readings are consistently high
- Anyone who tests positive will still be legally required to self-isolate regardless of their vaccination status. Similarly, anyone told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace will be legally required to do so. Employers must not require a self-isolating worker to come to work and should make sure that workers and customers who feel unwell do not attend the workplace. However, the Government intends to exempt people who have been fully vaccinated from the requirement to self-isolate if they are a contact of a positive case. They will still be advised to take a PCR test and if they test positive they will be required to self-isolate. Health Secretary, Sajid Javid, has confirmed this change will take place from 16 August
- The legal requirements to wear a face covering will be lifted in all settings. However, published guidance will advise that wearing a face covering will reduce a person’s risk and the risk to others, where they come into contact with people you don’t normally meet in enclosed and crowded spaces, including crowded public transport. People may also wish to use regular rapid testing to help manage periods of risk, including returning to the workplace
Employers will need to wait for the updated ‘Working Safely’ guidance before finalising their plans for a safe return to the workplace. Hopefully this will be published imminently.
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