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What employers must do to maintain working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic

What employers must do to maintain working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic

You may have seen the recent BBC news story about employees at online fashion retailer ASOS expressing concerns about working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

While ASOS and their local environmental health department have both denied the claims and confirmed appropriate controls are in place,  employers need to be more aware of what employees are doing while at work.

With this in mind, we wanted to try to help you allay any fears your staff may have, while they are still working. Here are 6 important things to do, to ensure you are maintaining safe working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

1. Be clear on How you carry on working

With the exception of some non-essential shops and public venues, the Government are not asking any other businesses to close – indeed they consider it important for business to carry on, where possible, however, you should encourage your employees to work from home unless it is impossible for them to do so.

Sometimes working from home will not be possible, as the reality is, not everyone can actually work from home. Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance, if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services. 

Ensure you are aware of what employees are doing while at work and how their actions may impact others.

2. Follow Public Health England Guidelines 

Employers who have people still working in their offices, warehouses, factories or onsite should ensure that employees are able and expected to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2-metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available) and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues, before disposing of the tissues in waste bins. If no tissue is available they should use the crook of their elbow.

3. Clean frequently

Employers need to ensure staff or cleaners are frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products, however you may wish to use some antibacterial products too.

4. Take action when someone is unwell 

Employers need to ensure that if someone becomes unwell in the workplace with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home and advised to follow the government advice to stay at home.

5. Communicate 

So how do you do this? Should you employ highly trained Corona Wardens, constantly looking for people breaking the rules? Do you need to take on a big brother role and constantly monitor what is going on? 

The answer is no to both, what you need to do is communicate with your employees and there are several ways to do this.

You can display posters around the premises reminding people what they should be doing, we have attached three examples to this blog post for you to use.

You can, more importantly, talk to your employees, encourage them to adopt the right behaviours and remind one another of the need to follow the government guidelines and have a method for communicating concerns where necessary. You could train up an ‘employee champion’ in each department to lead the others to do the right thing. Enable staff to raise their concerns with line managers, who can take appropriate action to deal with the concerns. Recognise and appreciate the good behaviours.

6. Update your Risk Assessments

Finally, please remember to ensure you have updated your risk assessments, safe systems of work etc, to reflect everything you are doing to reduce the risk of coronavirus within your business and organisation.

As always we are just a phone call or email away and can offer you further assistance if required. Park City can assist you during this difficult time to ensure you are HR and H&S is compliant during lockdown, as you implement your business continuity plans and when you can ‘return to some form of normal’. Talk to us. We are here to help.


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