Saturday 27th February 2021

Top Tips

Returning Employees to the Workplace

It is not just a matter of switching the lights back on

Things have certainly moved on since the introduction of the Furlough scheme in March 2020.

We have seen the extension of the Furlough scheme until October, with employer making contributions from August.

Employers need to strike a balance between the desire to open the workplaces fully and very real risks still posed by Covid-19.

The Guidance is clear that employers need to do a Covid-19 Risk Assessment and put up a Notice that this has been done.

This article looks at some of the things involved in that Risk Assessment such as:

  • Workplace zone allocation
  • Employee consultations
  • High traffic use identification
  • Putting in place a 10-step plan

The Risk Assessment should bear in mind these two main goals:

  1. Look after the Safety of workers returning to the workplace
  2. By dealing with employees fears it will in turn increase productivity.

Clean Practices:
Clean practice compliments but does not replace social distancing.

Risk Assessments:
A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks of Covid-19 in your workplace.

A business with more than 50 workers are expected to publish their risk assessment on their website and display a Notice when they have conducted the process.

There are 10 Key Elements for Employers in a Clean Practice Plan

  1. Create a Plan
    The faster you put in place a plan if you are wanting staff to return to work, the greater the benefit.  The start is the Risk Assessment document.  
  2. Undertake an Initial workplace assessment
    The best way is to divide your workplace into zonesWalk in a spiral around a workspace starting from the edge of the room to identify high frequency touch and social distancing touch points. Mark these on a map.
  3. Build trust by sharing your plans
    The senior most leader(s) present the plan to gain feedback.
  4. Demonstrate the plan
    Emphasis regular handwashing, use of hand sanitiser and not to touch high traffic areas. Maybe have tissues and bins available to open doors.Set up a realistic cleaning regime with senior managers participating.
  5. Make it Visual
    Sticker high traffic areas in different colours for rooms.
  6. PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act)
    Having a plan in place which employees are engaged will reassure them. 
  7. ReviewConduct a second review walk a week after the first
  8. Expand trust
    Sick employees coming to work are the most important vector to address so ensure you have a plan to identify this.
  9. Accountability
    Build in comments into further assessments.
  10. Growth
    Be prepared to share your plan so other businesses can adopt similar measures

ActifHR can provide a full Risk Assessment document, with full guidance for employers and employees for a fixed fee (including 30 minutes telephone advice).

Caroline Robertson, qualified as a solicitor in 1999 and acts a consultant advising business of all sizes on Employment Law and HR.

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