With lockdown restrictions now starting to lift after the coronavirus outbreak, you may have heard about the UK government’s latest guidelines—COVID-19 secure.
In short, many businesses can now start operating again from their premises. However, there are health & safety rules to follow to go about this process correctly.
We’ll explore how to do this in the below guide. But, don’t forget, you can also contact us on 0800 028 2420 for support. We’ll help you meet compliance requirements.
What is COVID-19 secure?
It’s governmental guidelines that aim to get businesses operating again during the coronavirus outbreak. That’s while ensuring the health & safety of employees.
Eight workplace environments can now reopen. These are:
- Construction and outdoor work.
- Factories and warehouses.
- Scientific laboratories and research facilities.
- Offices and contact centres.
- Visiting or delivering to people’s homes.
- Restaurants—if they provide a takeaway service.
- Retail shops.
- Vehicles—such as couriers and truck drivers.
But when does COVID-19 secure apply? Well, from Wednesday 13th May the UK government has encouraged businesses to bring their employees back.
However, this doesn’t mean you can simply return your employees to work immediately. As there are important welfare procedures you need to put in place.
How to obtain COVID-19 secure status
You’ll need to meet compliance with the official health & safety expectations.
These are the COVID-19 secure key points. The UK government highlights certain areas your business must adhere to. These are:
- Let employees work from home: Take all reasonable steps to allow remote workers to continue with homeworking. If you have staff who can’t work from home, then you should look to return them.
- Perform a risk assessment: Under health & safety, as well as equality legislation, you must carry this out. If you have over 50 employees, you’ll need to publish your findings on your website.
- Maintain social distancing: Where possible, employees must maintain a two-metre gap. Your risk assessment will help you understand how to enforce that policy.
- Use measures to lower transmission risks: If you can’t maintain social distancing, then consider steps that reduce risks to employees, customers, and visitors. This can include personal protective equipment (PPE), protective barriers/shields, or staggered shifts.
- Increase your cleaning processes: Clean your premises frequently and thoroughly—more so than before the pandemic.
It’s important you provide training to your employees about your guidelines, as they also have responsibilities to follow.
Before your workforce returns, providing advice about what you expect of them will assist in minimising the risk of infections.
How Peninsula can help in getting COVID-19 secure
In such rapidly changing and difficult times, your business can turn to us—Peninsula Business Services.
We’re experts in HR, employment law, and health & safety. You’ll need to adapt all three in the months ahead, as lockdown eases and new safety regulations arrive.
We have back to work after coronavirus advice your business can refer to.
But we can also provide expert insights into how to carry out your coronavirus risk assessment. This is crucial in your business returning to proper operational standards.
We’ll guide you through the steps to meet government regulations—and to ensure you maximise your productivity. Get in touch for immediate support: 0800 028 2420.
How to apply COVID-19 secure guidelines to your business
You can follow the below steps to ready your business to reopen:
- Perform the risk assessment of your workplace to gain an understanding of how to approach reopening.
- Look into how you can apply social distancing across your workplace—take active steps to introduce procedures. Implement procedures where necessary.
- Analyse each employee’s role and whether they can (or should) return to work.
- Consider whether you require certain roles in your business—if it’s not a necessity, don’t return the employee.
- Offer homeworking to staff who can continue to work remotely.
- High and moderate risk employees (those with underlying health conditions) should continue to work from home. Or they should remain on furlough—or the agreed approach you have with them, which can include lay-off or a reduction in hours.
- Increase workplace hygiene standards. This can include:
- Placing floor markers to indicate two-metres.
- Staggering the return of employees into manageable amounts.
- Clean your premises thoroughly and on a regular basis.
- Provide PPE where necessary.
- Introduce measures to limit social contact, such as limiting the use of lifts—or making meetings a video conference only option.
Employee welfare—your focus
Keep in mind your duty of care to staff during this time. So, COVID-19 secure and employee satisfaction are linked. You should talk directly with your employees (or their unions) with the procedures you put in place.
They have the right to voice concerns about your choices and make suggestions—and you should encourage direct feedback.
Ultimately, an employee can request not to return to work if the conditions don’t meet their satisfaction.
In return, you take all reasonable steps to ensure it’s a safe environment.
But if they refuse to work, you can look to see if they can work remotely. Or if you can deploy them in a different role where there’s less of a safety risk.
What is the COVID-19 downloadable display notice?
The UK government has a downloadable poster you can use to help you meet the five key points.
You can print this off—it’ll help you simplify the five steps you need to take. Some businesses may refer to it as the COVID-19 secure badge.
This is a confirmation that you’re compliant with the five expectations under the current UK government guidelines:
- You’ve carried out a risk assessment to address coronavirus threats in your working environment.
- You have cleaning and hygiene procedures in place.
- Reasonable steps are in place to help employees work from home.
- You have put in place social distancing measures.
- If employees can’t stay two-metres apart, you have taken steps to manage the risk of transmission (such as through PPE).
You can sign the form and date it, as well as providing contact details for a health & safety representative.
However, be aware the steps such as risk assessments and applying health & safety practices can be complex.
So, if you need further assistance you should look for professional support.
How employers can get support from HSE
The Health & Safety Executive is a government agency that’s responsible for encouraging, regulating, and enforcing employee welfare. There are resources available from the service—as well as a contact line for additional support.
There’s extra funding for HSE call centres—£14 million so that businesses can receive support during this time.
But we’re also available for expert support—that includes business health & safety software that’ll streamline your business’ requirements.
So, you can easily manage your requirements by managing your risk assessments with step-by-step guides. And you can gain access to a library of ready-made forms, posters, and logbooks.
During these difficult times, it makes a major difference in how your business returns to work.
Need our help?
We can help you meet the government’s health & safety compliance expectations. Get in touch for support: 0800 028 2420.