New Work Safely Protocol published: Government encourages cautious return to workplaces

Noel Collins

October 26 2021

Last updated: October 26th, 2021

Following the Government’s recently revised reopening plan, which saw changes made to the scheduled easing of restrictions on October 22nd, a new Work Safely Protocol has been published. This is in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases and how best the spread of the virus can be reduced.

Whilst employees can continue to return to their place of work, the Government has advised that it should be done on a phased and cautious basis for specific business requirements. The Government has also reiterated that remote working should continue where possible.

Below, we look at the key points of the new Work Safely Protocol for employers to take note of.

How does the new Work Safely Protocol impact employers?

The new Work Safely Protocol “sets out the minimum Public Health infection prevention and control measures required in every place of work to prevent and reduce the spread of COVID-19 following temporary closures and in the ongoing safe operation of workplaces.”

In particular, the Protocol has been updated to reflect public health guidance in respect of close contacts, noting that close contacts who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic may not need to restrict their movements. It’s essential that employers are following public health guidance in this respect.

With regard to the Government’s reopening plan, there are a number of key points set out for employers to consider:

  • Employees can return to the workplace on a phased basis, but remote working should continue where possible.
  • Requirement for an EU Digital COVID Certificate (COVID-19 pass) (vaccine or recovery certificate) for indoor hospitality and events.
  • Collection of contact tracing data to continue.
  • The wearing of face masks will remain (can be removed for consumption of food or drinks as appropriate).
  • COVID-19 passes and fixed capacity limits will not apply for outdoor events. However, sectors should ensure appropriate protective measures are in place.
  • Specific sectoral guidance has been developed for nightclubs, with appropriate protective measures outlined.
  • Organisers of indoor and outdoor group activities should ensure that appropriate protective measures are in place, and where indoor groups have a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated people, pods of six should apply. Fixed capacity limits will not apply to these indoor and outdoor group activities.
  • Religious services and weddings can proceed without capacity limits, but with all other protective measures remaining in place.

Free Download: Office risk assessment template for COVID-19

Employees to continue to work remotely…

The Government has once again said that employees should work from home where possible. If you have employees working remotely, there are a number of health & safety considerations you need to be mindful of.

 

Need help ensuring your workplace adheres to the new Work Safely Protocol?

If you need guidance on ensuring your workplace adheres to the new Work Safely Protocol, we can help. Speak with one of our health and safety consultants today on 0818 923 923.

Suggested Resources