Getting People Back To Work – How To Get Started
With the Government seeking to kickstart the UK economy after months of costly inactivity, many business owners are left with the challenge of recalling staff back into the workplace and readying their premises for productivity whilst adhering to new guidelines on employee safety.
With working practices due to be affected for some time due to the pandemic, this guide seeks to inform all business owners on the steps they must take by law before requesting staff return to work, if working from home is not an option.
Step 1: Carry Out a Risk Assessment
Before a member of staff steps back inside your premises, a ‘Covid-19 secure’ risk assessment must be carried out to ensure that you can limit the potential spread of the virus. This includes:
- Ensuring that you are able to work while maintaining social distance where possible
- Providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary
- Giving instructions on the proper use of PPE
- Providing appropriate hygiene facilities
- Instructing in the use of hygiene facilities
- Ensuring the workplace is regularly cleaned and disinfected, and that hand sanitiser is provided around the workplace
Once these measures have been planned and put in place, it is important to communicate what you have done. This can help to reduce anxiety surrounding the return to work and show your commitment to adhering to the government-enforced rules. Importantly, it also ensures that everyone knows what is expected of them and is familiar with new processes before they get back to work.
If you are operating separate entrances and exits, staggering start and break times and limiting the number of people in stairways, lifts or corridors, this should also be identified during the risk assessment and communicated in advance of the return to work.
Step 2: Identify Vulnerable Workers
The Office of National Statistics reports that 67.2% of businesses across all sectors have furloughed at least some members of staff, while millions of others have swapped to remote working arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, under the new legislation, you cannot force a worker who falls into the vulnerable category back to work at this point. These groups include:
- Extremely vulnerable people
- The elderly, disabled or those suffering from an underlying health conditions
- Pregnant women
Before you begin the process of requesting that staff return to your premises to carry out their duties, take the time to assess which groups can return safely. Failure to identify vulnerable people and expecting the above groups to return to the workplace could lead to legal action.
Step 3: Obtain Adequate PPE
A vital part of the return to work is ensuring that you have good stocks of high-quality PPE. Protective equipment allows staff to carry out their role safely and with confidence and can help you to avoid a second spike which could see your premises closed once again.
During your risk assessment, you should have included any PPE needs as part of the process. You’ll want to have a good stock of items including disposable gloves, anti-bacterial face masks, visors and plastic aprons dependant upon the type of work that needs to be done.
Remember, many of these items will need to be changed at regular intervals several times a day, so double-check that you have more than enough items to service the needs of each member of staff before you reopen for business.