The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has hit pause on many businesses across the UK. There is uncertainty about how long COVID-19 will affect your business. However, following recent government announcements, many employers are now looking at a gradual return of their employees to the workplace.
As the government lays out their returning to work guidelines for various workplaces across the UK, Alan & Thomas insurance brokers are here to help with some of the detail. We will take you through the latest advice for employers on how to integrate your employees back into the workplace and provide some helpful tips and guidance to make the transition as streamlined as possible.
As your staff gradually return, the government has also announced the following 5 steps to work safely which should be implemented as soon as it is practical:
The benefits of a return to work plan are indisputable and include:
Having a ‘return to work plan’ in place will benefit your employees as they will feel supported and motivated by their employer which in turn will increase their engagement, productivity and loyalty to the company and ultimately will benefit you in the future.
Whilst you should make every effort to ensure the plans are tailored to each individual and their needs, you can use the basics of a return to work plan to build your company’s approach to asking employees to return to work following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Let’s take a look at some key industries and how you can apply the current guidelines to ensure a safe environment for your staff:
You should continue to work from home where possible. The only staff returning to the office at this point may include employees whose role is critical to the success of operational continuity, including safe facility management or regulatory requirements. Also, individuals who are unable to work remotely due to exceptional home circumstances may also return to the workplace.
Social distancing at work is paramount. Staggering arrival and departure, as well as break times, should be considered. Is keyless entry at your office location available? If not, this may be something you should consider installing going forward to ensure virus transmission is minimised. One-way systems should be implemented where possible to enforce the recommended 2-metre social distancing rule. Use floor tape to mark areas to help workers keep their distance.
Going forward people should be placed to work side by side or facing away from each other rather than face-to-face. If this isn’t viable in your workplace, use screens to separate people from each other. Desks and any shared computer and office equipment should be cleaned and sanitised between different occupants. Discourage your staff from using other workers’ phones or desks. Objects and other surfaces that are touched regularly should also be cleaned regularly. Provide staff with an easily accessible supply of antibacterial cleaning wipes for this purpose.
Meetings should be held virtually as opposed to in-person unless a 2-metre distance between attendees can be achieved. Workspaces should be cleaned and waste and employees’ belongings removed at the end of a shift.
Recommendations for the reopening of sites include:
Whether you are working in, visiting or delivering to a home environment you should aim to discuss with households ahead of a visit to ask that a two-metre distance is observed and that internal doors are left open to avoid using any door handles.
If visiting a block of flats, when using the entry system, discuss with the occupier the options available to you both to allow for a socially distanced interaction whilst you carry out your role.
For home deliveries (involving heavy items such as furniture) consider using a fixed pairing system – and allocating the same workers to a set area/postcode.
The below recommendations apply to couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit, work vehicles, etc.
Whilst some food stores and pharmacies are allowed to trade we know that from the middle of June, clothing and furniture stores and other smaller outlets are allowed to reopen. There is a lot you can do to adapt to the 2-metre social distancing rule allowing your customers to return:
With all the businesses we have tapped into above, we cannot stress that PPE is important and a helpful tool for making your employees feel a little safer. Even if the type of trade you are in doesn’t require the same level of PPE as doctors and nurses require in hospitals, have sanitizer and antibacterial wipes available always.
At the moment, doing everything in your power to be an accommodating and risk-aware employer will go a long way in demonstrating that you have done all you can to ensure the safety of your employees in the workplace. Where the fault lies for any incidents in the workplace off the back of this pandemic is yet to be tested. That’s why we recommend businesses to protect their financial assets with a D&O liability insurance policy.
With all the tips we have shared and how these apply to a number of trades, you can always refer to our Alan & Thomas Risk Management Services Covid-19 Resource Hub and Business Reactivation Toolkit for a more in-depth guide on how to go further with these new measures being taken in the workplace.
As well as providing recommendations on how to adapt to working alongside the virus, we also want to provide you the tools to make the process a lot easier. There are so many great tools and resources that you have access to in the A&T Risk Management Service including our Risk Assessment Template which you can adapt to suit the needs of your business and we have now made free for everyone - download your copy.
We are still open for business as usual, so please call us on 01202 754900 if you need to talk to us.