On Monday 11 May the government published its guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.
The CCMA and a small number of is members were invited to input into and feedback on the guidance during its development. As a result, we have been asked to share it. We do so here, and have also identified some of the key points to note.
Assess the risks
All employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment for employees. The guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities, and contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations.
To help decide which actions to take, it is suggested that you carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment, just as you would for other health and safety related hazards. This risk assessment must be done in consultation with unions or workers and if you have over 50 employees you will need to publish it.
Who should go to work
The guidance provides support in making decisions on who should go to work. It retains the message that everyone should work from home, unless they cannot work from home. Considering the personal circumstances of each employee will help determine who may, or may not, return to work in the office. It is also clear that all employees must be treated equally.
Social distancing at work
The guidance provides key advice and suggestions on how to implement 2m social distancing wherever possible, including while arriving to and departing from work. Suggestions include staggered arrival and departure times, managing occupancy levels to enable social distancing, creating additional space for break times, cleaning and sanitising workstations between different occupants in a hot desk environment and only holding face to face meetings when they are absolutely necessary.
Keeping the workplace clean
There is a whole section with guidance on cleaning routines, hygiene and the handling of goods, merchandise and other materials within the workplace.
Use of PPE, including face masks
The guidance suggests that additional PPE beyond what you might usually wear is not beneficial. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you should provide it.
The intention is for contact centres to reduce the number of contacts each employee has but considering shift patters and working groups. There are steps in the guidance that you might consider. It is also clear that employers must make sure all workers understand the COVID-19 related safety procedures before returning to the workplace.
Of course, there is a host of further support and guidance available – we have produced a list of useful links here.