2 days ago
New rules, known as Plan B come into effect on this coming Monday. That is, work from home where you can. Wear face masks except where it is impractical to do so. It’s easy to complain that we are once again left to interpret ambiguous rules but we probably all know the drill.
Work from home where you can
This is simple enough. If, as an employer you already have mechanisms for allowing staff to work from home, set this up again now. Remember, it’s not just giving a computer and some stationery. Think about the following
- Health and Welfare. Record any discussions you have with staff about staying safe at home, including ensuring they have appropriate equipment to work safely and some contact with others to combat isolation.
- Remember that you continue to have an obligation in relation to data security. This is not just ensuring secure communications, but having a protocol for dealing with paper records, shredding etc.
- If your office set up allows, you might allow the majority of your staff to work from home, with maybe one or two members working from the office (if it is impractical for them to work from home and if operationally, you need some attendance in the office)
Face Coverings where practical
Most business accept that it is not practical to wear face covering while on the phone. The rule that seems to work in most work spaces is to wear a mask when moving around a workplace with no need to wear one when sat at your own work station.
Consider providing face masks or visors where necessary
There are different rules coming into force regarding wearing of face coverings in public places.
General Health and Safety
There is an overarching obligation to ensure a safe working environment. Therefore introduce, and document, safe working practices.
- Insist that windows are open when a room is occupied.
- Provide sanitiser
- Consider turning off air conditioning systems
- Make use of any meeting rooms by assigning them to staff so that they can spread out
- Try to discourage the sharing of telephones or encourage transferring calls to colleagues, rather than passing them the phone.
- Take staff concerns seriously
- Use, or encourage daily Covid Testing at work
- Return to use of Zoom/Teams for meetings (if you ever moved away from them)
- Consider paying full pay for staff who are isolating (whether because they have returned a positive test, or a close contact of someone with the Omicron variant)
- Remind staff and enforce sensible 2 metre distancing where possible
- Considering putting screens in place between work stations if this has not already been done
Christmas Parties ?
This remains a matter for you. As an employer, you are not prohibited from having a party. However, you will be wise to weigh up the advantages of such an event, against the potential consequences of spreading the virus amongst your workforce. You would certainly be wise not to force attendance. Especially if someone has a reason to be nervous such as being, or living with someone who is vulnerable.