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Working Safely through Covid-19 – Updated Advice & Guidance

Businesses and other organisations

Businesses and other organisations – Covid Update

Employers and businesses have taken significant steps over the pandemic to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 within their settings. The Government has lifted the majority of legal requirements on businesses, and continues to provide ‘Working Safely’ guidance setting out the steps that employers can take to reduce risk in their workplaces.

From 24 February, workers will not be legally obliged to tell their employers when they are required to self-isolate. Employers and workers should follow Government guidance for those with COVID-19 which will be to still stay at home if you are unwell and to take a test

From 1 April, the Government will remove the health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments. The intention is to empower businesses to take responsibility for implementing mitigations that are appropriate for their circumstances. Employers that specifically work with COVID-19, such as laboratories, must continue to undertake a risk assessment that considers COVID-19.

From 1 April, the Government will replace the existing set of ‘Working Safely’ guidance with new public health guidance. Employers should continue to consider the needs of employees at greater risk from COVID-19, including those whose immune system means they are at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19. The Government will consult with employers and businesses to ensure guidance continues to support them to manage the risk of COVID-19 in workplaces.

Employers should ensure that areas of the workplace that are poorly ventilated have airflow improved – research done shows good ventilation can reduce transmission of viruses by up to 70%.

FROM 1ST APRIL 2022

  • The Government will announce guidance that sets out the ongoing steps anyone with Covid-19 should take to minimise contact with others
  • The Government will no longer provide free LFT for the public in England
  • Tests will still be available to anyone who wishes to buy them privately through local chemists
  • Some free testing will still be applicable to social care employees and certain at-risk people, more details will follow closer to the time
  • The current requirement for some venues to require the Covid NHS pass will end
  • The H&S requirement for employers to have Covid-19 in their risk assessment will be removed
  • The existing ‘Working Safely Guidance’ will be replaced with new public health guidance

More guidance will be published in April for employers, on how to deal with employees who are at high risk of serious illness from Covid-19, even if they are vaccinated

Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) – Guidance – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

 

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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.

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There are literally 3 unique ‘people’ elements to protect Your business & Your people

What is HR ? Really, why do we need it as an SME?
There are literally 3 unique ‘people’ elements to protect Your business & Your people
1. Talent – Do you have the right people, with the right skills, in the right job roles?
2. Organisation – Do you have the right culture, are Your people happy, motivated, positive & ‘tip top’ productive, to win the market right now?
3. Leadership – Do you have the right leadership & people management capabilities & management style, to maintain or support your business growth, to reach ultimate Success & keep up with Your Competition?
We thrive on helping you to build a positive & healthy culture; by implementing and slotting together, the various components like a jigsaw, we support and help you to move away from directive management (if this is the case) to holding developmental coaching conversations).
Interested? Then get in touch now for a friendly chat with Dee Newton, Our HR Consultant.

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