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Government Provides Draft Guidelines for Returning to Work

05 May

Government Provides Draft Guidelines for Returning to Work

Draft guidelines have been prepared and sent out by the Government to business groups and Trade Unions.

The guidelines relate to potential measures to be implemented to enable people to return to work. including (and perhaps particularly) where there is a likelihood of workers being unable to consistently maintain 2 metre distancing from colleagues or customers as required. 

Details are rather sketchy but it appears that the following possible measures have been referred to in the Government guidelines: 

  • Physical shields being put in place;
  • Specific use of PPE;
  • Staggered working shift times;
  • Limits on the time spent in close proximity to others;
  • Reduced hot-desking;
  • Maximised home working;
  • Additional and reinforced hygiene procedures being implemented in the work place.

The difficulty in balancing the many competing needs and interests is perhaps indicated by the initial comments that have been reported from bodies representing employer and employee. The British Chambers of Commerce have noted their concern as to the liability of an employer who follows the guidelines but still finds that employees become infected; the TUC have noted its concern that the draft guidelines give too much latitude to employers to decide what is “safe” for the employee. 

One would hope and expect that there is more information to come, and some form of consensus reached between Government, employers’ and employees’ bodies regarding how social distancing is to be managed in the workplace. 

Employees will need to feel safe and to understand how best to safeguard their health and that of their colleagues and customers; employers will have to put those safeguarding measures in place and to do what they can to maintain their business, alongside the health of their stakeholders. In such an ongoing and difficult climate, where the landscape is changing frequently, decision-making can be a demanding task.

For further advice and assistance, please contact Dax Keeling on 0114 2495969.