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Covid-19 Updates for Employers – January 2022

Isolation Period Cut from 10 Days to 7 Days 

Fully vaccinated Covid sufferers can now cut their 10-day isolation period to seven days, it has been announced.

Under new rules, people in England can take two lateral flow tests 24 hours apart on day six and seven of their quarantine.

Self-isolation for COVID-19 cases reduced from 10 to 7 days following negative LFD tests – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Temporary change to Fit-notes

For Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), where employees go off sick on or after 10 December 2021, employers can only ask employees for proof of sickness (such as a fit note) after 28 days of sickness (including non-working days). Proof of sickness cannot be requested earlier than 28 days.
Fit notes do not have to be provided for DWP benefit claims until 27 January. This will not affect claims to benefit.
These changes are to give GP’s more time to work on the Coronavirus (Covid-19) booster programme.

Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to your employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

This scheme will be reintroduced from mid-January 2022. Further guidance will be available as soon as possible.

Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to your employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Plan B – Implications for Employers

The Prime Minister has announced that England will move to ‘Plan B’ in response to the rapid rise of cases of the Omicron variant.

Do office workers now need to work from home?

Anyone who can work from home is being advised to do so from Monday 13 December. The Cabinet Office guidance says that anyone who cannot work from home should continue to go into work .  This is guidance rather than law so nobody will be committing an offence by continuing to work from the office if they could have worked from home.

Note that the new guidance applies to England only – the position is different in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. In Wales, for example, working from home is already encouraged.

Does this mean the office Christmas party must be cancelled?

In answer to a question at the press conference, the Prime Minister said that Christmas parties can go ahead. This is legally correct – there are no restrictions on social events.

Ireland recently brought in restrictions in a similar way – with working from home being introduced without restrictions on social events (although social events in Ireland are now also restricted).

Are there new rules for offices if they stay open?

The Working Safely guidance on how employers can reduce the risks in their workplace has not yet been updated and there is currently no new guidance from the Health and Safety Executive.

Which settings must use NHS Covid passes?

From Wednesday 15 December, subject to parliamentary approval, the NHS App will become mandatory for entry into nightclubs and large venues – including unseated indoor events with 500 or more attendees, unseated outdoor events with 4,000 or more attendees and any event with 10,000 or more attendees. In a concession to the affected industries, alternative proof (such as an email or text) of a negative lateral flow test will also be accepted. The requirements are likely to be apply only to customers, rather than staff.

What are the planned new self-isolation requirements?

Under the current law, a close contact of someone with a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant is required to self-isolate regardless of vaccination status.

Are you considering investing in HR software?

Why not use Our powerful, Affordable & User Friendly HR Software?

The implementation of a GDPR compliant HR Software Information System (HRIS) such as Craven HR, is a key driver in moving a business forward, in terms of data management, HR streamlined processes and improved employee engagement.

KPI’s

Without a HRIS, it is not currently possible to capture accurate HR performance metrics that are strategically aligned with a business, many businesses simply do not have the accurate data. Without the correct data you cannot measure key information and provide Company KPI’s, which are a fundamental and positive business tool.

The purpose of HR KPI’s is to optimise recruitment and selection processes, workplace and people management/employee engagement initiatives etc. By constantly measuring and tracking these metrics, you can gauge whether your current HR practices are proactively making a positive impact, the stability of your business and staff; and ultimately the business’s profitability.  

Restricting Data Access 

Restricting data access strictly to what’s required for each job role is essential to prevent a sensitive and serious data breach. By giving staff access to personal and or sensitive data who don’t legitimately need it for the performance of their duties, you could create a situation that could put highly confidential information at risk. 

Risk Management  & GDPR

To manage this risk, follow best practice and to ensure GDPR compliance, please find the following advice and guidance; 

  • Implement an appropriate and affordable HRIS –  Such as Craven HR Software;
  • Avoid multiple different places to store personal data – Recording of personal and/or sensitive employee data on spreadsheets is advised against due to high risk of data breaches – a HRIS would solve this;
  • Restrict staff access to personal and or sensitive data – Define who definitely needs access to the employee personal and or sensitive employee information for their job role; and what is/are the legitimate and valid reason/s?- A HRIS has different security settings for staff;
  • Appropriate security should be in place, to avoid unauthorised sharing of information – A HRIS would solve this;
  • Ensure that all staff who access confidential data know how to safeguard it and why, including appropriate training – Training should be arranged for key staff;
  • Privacy Statement – Implement and communicate.

Why should we implement a HRIS?

Benefits for Line Managers;

  • Better use of your time – Streamlines and automates those repetitive and time-consuming people management tasks; 
  • Stay Secure, GDPR Compliant – Less risk, all your employees’ data safely in one place ;
  • Welcome new employees - Create onboarding new starter checklists, send out offer letters and contracts​; 
  • Engage your staff – Self Service – Give your people a system with their data, they can access anytime, anywhere ; 
  • Cloud Ecosystem – HR software that links to Xero and Quickbooks; 
  • Easy to use & mobile friendly – Access information quickly, anytime, from anywhere; 
  • Make payroll painless – Run your entire payroll in just 5 simple steps; 
  • Competitive edge – Think about it… You want to attract and retain top talent, but your tech is way behind your competitors​. 

Empowerment increases autonomy for Line Managers ie;  

  • Manage timesheets/schedules/authorise overtime;
  • Request salary/job changes; 
  • Authorise/cancel Annual Leave (and other leave); 
  • Add employee sickness absence;
  • Complete a RTWI (Return to Work Interview); 
  • Complete Performance Management ie; One to One Meetings, Probationary Reviews and Appraisals;
  • Reduction in sickness absence – It is a deterrent when employees can visibly see how much sickness absence/triggers they have.

Benefits for employees;

  • Communication tool – Important Company notices/announcements – improves employee engagement’;
  •  Self Service – visible employee information – employees feel more in control;
  •  Access and update their own personal information – reduction in errors;
  •  Access timesheet/weekly schedule – improves engagement;
  •  Annual leave/other leave is important, employees can view their leave; balance and apply for leave online – speedier process, improves employee engagement;
  •  Complete self-certification – speedier process, improves employee engagement;
  •  Access Company Policies and Procedures – improves communication;
  •  Identify and contact other staff – improves communication.

Interested ? We hope so, please get in touch to discuss how we can help you work Smarter not Harder with Craven HR Software including Payroll (or not).

Craven HR Software – Online HR System – Craven HR Services (cravensafetyservices.co.uk)

 

 

Remote Health & Safety Services

Welding Fumes – Guest article by Craig Batty of Workplace Exposure

Change in Enforcement Expectations for Welding Fumes

In February this year, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) announced a significant “change in enforcement expectations” regarding welding fumes.

It comes as a result of new scientific evidence which shows that exposure to all welding fumes can cause lung cancer.

The latest change in regulation means that all industries must adequately control exposure to welding fumes.  No matter the duration or location of the work.

What are the Latest Scientific Findings?

Findings from the International Agency for Research on Cancer have shown that exposure to mild steel welding fumes can cause lung cancer, and possibly kidney cancer. The findings have led to the reclassification of mild steel welding fumes as a human carcinogen.

What does this Mean for the Welding Industry?

Most significantly the findings have led to the conclusion that there is no safe level of exposure to any form of welding fumes. This means that general ventilation alone will no longer be considered to be an adequate control measure.  The only exception will be if undertaking sporadic or occasional low-intensity TIG or resistance spot welding. A combination of good general ventilation and suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is permissible if undertaking other types of welding sporadically or occasional where LEV is not practicable.

Instead, suitable engineering controls such as Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) machinery, will need to be in place for regular high-intensity indoor welding activities. Such control measures will have the additional benefit of controlling human exposure to manganese. Manganese is present in mild steel welding fumes.  Inhaling these fumes can lead to long term neurological damage, with symptoms comparable to those of Parkinson’s Disease.

However, it is essential to ensure your chosen control method adequately reduces human exposure to fumes.

The new guidelines state, that if LEV fails to control exposure sufficiently, it needs to be supplemented by respiratory protective equipment (RPE).  This should be worn at all times when welding is being carried out – both in and outdoors.

All welders need to be fully trained with the correct usage of these control methods, before carrying out any welding work.

What do Employers Need to Do?

  • Ensure adequate control methods (e.g. LEV) are in situ to control exposure to welding fumes. LEV testing can help to determine whether or not your control methods are working correctly, and if they are indeed fit for their intended purpose.
  • Ensure all welding activities, regardless of duration or location, have suitable control methods in place. This includes outdoor work.
  • Should other methods fail to adequately control exposure to welding fumes, suitable RPE must be provided, along with full training.
  • Check that all controls are working correctly, being correctly used and are being suitably maintained. Employers also need to ensure that the controls are examined and tested when necessary.
  • Ensure all RPE being used is subject to an RPE programme. An RPE programme shows that you – as an employer – are able to correctly use RPE and train others on how to do so.

This news from HSE comes a week after world cancer day, and the new measures are being welcomed by healthcare professionals and industry experts.

HSE COSHH Essentials leaflet WL3 Welding Fume Control has been updated and provides information on suitable LEV system and when it should be used.

Whilst the findings are alarming, the good news is that action can quickly be taken to ensure your business offers a safe and healthy working environment for its employees.

At Workplace Exposure, we can work with you to ensure your business is in line with the latest regulatory changes. We are able to provide you with access to the relevant information and services to ensure your workplace is fully compliant at all times.

Our approach

To get in touch with Workplace Exposure, either give us a call on 0800 689 4386, or fill in our enquiry form to discuss your monitoring or consultancy requirements.

We’ll then provide you with a no obligation proposal, we can often give an initial idea of fees whilst we discuss your needs.

Once you’ve accepted our proposal we can then schedule the work.

Following our site visit we’ll provide you with a comprehensive report giving you advice, recommendations and control measures where appropriate.

Implement the outcomes for compliance and a happier healthier workplace.

Welding Fumes

Guest Article by Craig Batty of Workplace Exposure

Change in Enforcement Expectations for Welding Fumes

In February this year, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) announced a significant “change in enforcement expectations” regarding welding fumes. Read more

Work Related Stress

Work Related Stress

Work related stress is how you feel when you have demands at work that exceed how much you feel you can cope with. Over 11 million working days are lost each year because of work related stress, and stress can contribute to conditions such as anxiety or depression. Read more

Display Screen Equipment (DSE)

Display Screen Equipment

Prolonged working with computers can be associated with neck, shoulder, back or arm pain, as well as with fatigue and eyestrain.

Research has found that a high proportion of DSE workers report aches, pains or eye discomfort. These aches and pains are sometimes called Upper Limb Disorders (ULDs). These can include a range of medical conditions such as RSI (Repetitive Strain Injuries).  In addition nine in ten British businesses are failing to meet their legal responsibilities to protect their workforce’s sight, according to a new study commissioned by the charity Eye Health UK and Vision Express Opticians. Read more

Working Safely with Display Screen Equipment (DSE)

The HSE have redesigned their online guidance for DSE.

It now features a step-by-step guide to working safely with DSE and covers topics from workstations and assessments, to eyesight testing.

Take a look at the redesigned guidance.

Their website also has related resources including their free, downloadable publication Working with display screen equipment (DSE)

Skin Health

Our skin is amazing. On average it is about 1.5mm thick, contains 17km of blood vessels and is just as important for our wellbeing as a healthy heart or lungs. So it’s not surprising that the HSE has guidelines for companies on effective skin health surveillance.

Read more