The UK government has announced that further businesses will be allowed to reopen from 4 July, including pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, hotels and guest accommodation, cinemas and outdoor gyms. Non-essential retail businesses have been permitted to reopen since 15 June.
While the message continues to be that those who can work from home should continue to do so, more employees will be returning to the workplace. The government has published updated workplace-specific guides (available here) for employers to enable them to operate safely (known as being “COVID secure”).
Employers should check the appropriate guidance for the types of workplace they operate as they make their plans, but check back regularly to see if updates have been made.
Working safely during the pandemic – COVID-19 guidance
There were 8 guidance documents when initially published on 11 May, but there are now 12 workplace specific guides available here. The full list is as follows:
- close contact work (eg massage therapists, tailors, hairdressers) (NEW)
- construction and outdoor work
- factories, plants and warehouses
- heritage locations (NEW)
- hotels and guest accommodation (NEW)
- labs and research facilities
- offices and contact centres
- other people’s homes
- restaurants, pubs and takeaway services
- shops and branches
- ‘visitor economy’ (tourist attractions, business events and consumer shows, as well as hotels and guest accommodation) (NEW)
Existing guidance has also been updated to include industry feedback and we can expect more changes to be made as time goes on.
Some new additions to consider in offices, for example, include:
- maintaining records of visitors, considering hygiene (for example, pen sharing arrangements) at reception, establishing host responsibilities for visitors to officers and providing training to those employees, reviewing entry and exit routes for visitors and contractors to minimise contact with other people, informing visitors that they may need to remove face coverings for identification purposes, and reviewing external messaging to visitors to make sure it does not provide information that may present a security risk – such as the location of queues, or the number of people permitted in a queue
- working collaboratively with landlords and other tenants in the same building,
- holding ongoing engagement with workers, including through trade unions and employee reps) to monitor and understand unforeseen impacts of changes to working environments
- being aware of and focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on employees’ mental health (and see also the government’s new guidance for the public on mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19)
- using clear simple messaging including images to explain new workplace rules, taking care to include those for whom English may not be their first language and those with visual impairments, for example
- communicating approaches and operational procedures to suppliers, customers and trade bodies to share experience and help their adoption.
For further information and to discuss the legal implications of your business’s reopening plans, please get in touch with your usual Baker McKenzie contact.