In line with the UK government’s roadmap for ending lockdown, many companies are beginning to plan a phased return to work.
What comes next depends on several factors, not least the nature of your work and where you are based (the devolved nations have their own schedules).
Sectors like hospitality, entertainment and others may take longer to reopen. It may also depend on the arrangements you've had in place during the shutdown.
A. Return to work e-learning module
Now that some staff are returning to their workplaces, there is a need to re-educate them about the measures and controls needed to ensure compliance with the official guidance for working safely.
Our free e-learning module contains slideshows, questions and other training activities to refresh your team's understanding and ensure that they remember to follow the updated rules.
Contact us directly if you'd like to customise this training and roll it out to your staff.
B. Return to work staff assessment
Our free gamified e-learning module provides 20 quick-fire questions that will check if your staff fully understand the guidelines, ready for a full or partial return. And to make sure they aren't just guessing, each question is scored on confidence and correctness.
Contact us directly if you'd like to customise this training and roll it out to your staff.
C. Return to work compliance checklist
Our 20-point compliance checklist acts as a reminder of key points to remember to ensure compliance with the official guidance.
- Think safety first! - Be sure to conduct a Covid-19-based risk assessment before any return to work, share the findings with the team and make this available on your website (for companies with more than 50 workers). Be aware that there are Health and Safety Executive spot checks to ensure companies are Covid-secure.
- Display the official notice - This will reassure employees and visitors that you are following the Covid-19 secure guidance.
- Decide who is returning to work and who will keep working at home - If your employees can work from home, they should continue to do so until at least June 2021. However, sometimes this may not be possible - due to regulatory obligations that can't be met remotely or homeworking difficulties – or even desirable (with some companies deciding to switch to remote or hybrid working permanently). If workers have been furloughed, you'll need to think about whom to un-furlough first. From the beginning of August, furloughed workers may be asked to return part-time (the scheme has been extended until the end of September 2021).
- Safeguard "clinically extremely vulnerable" workers - Anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable or shielding (or with clinically extremely vulnerable people in their household) must continue to work from home and not return to work. If homeworking is not an option for clinically vulnerable people, you'll need to ensure they are offered the safest available onsite roles, and they can maintain social distancing.
- Remind your team what to do if they have symptoms, test positive or have contact with someone with Covid-19 - They must not come into work. Anyone with symptoms should get a test immediately and stay at home until they get the test result. They will need to isolate for 10 days if the test is positive or if a family member develops symptoms).
- Assess the physical environment - including all common areas (such as stairways, corridors, lifts, reception, break areas, cafeterias, etc.) to ensure that social distancing can be maintained. Cordon off seating, if necessary, to ensure people sit 2 metres apart, and use floor markings, signs or paint to help with this. . Open the windows to let fresh air in.
- Consider the journey to work - Is there anything you can do to reduce congestion on public transport? Options include staggered start and end times, extra car parking, using an 'out-of-town' satellite office, incentives to encourage people to walk, run or cycle to work, even a company minibus.
- Provide extra entry and exit points to the building to limit congestion if you can do so safely and securely. Where possible, enable contact-less entry - by replacing turnstiles and touch or pin-entry systems.
- Introduce a one-way system around the building, specific departments and desks - to expedite movement and minimise contact.
- Provide safe drop-off and transfer zones at the gatehouse, reception, and within each department. This prevents physical exchanges of items, such as documents, payment, etc.
- Impose a ban on hot-desking and shared workspaces - If this is unavoidable, provide extra cleaning facilities (hand sanitiser, wipes, etc.) and ensure shared equipment is cleaned before and after use.
- Implement additional controls and measures if social distancing cannot be maintained - Options include wearing a face covering, increased handwashing and surface cleaning, screens and barriers to keep people separate, back-to-back or side-to-side (instead of face-to-face) working, reduced activity time, and fixed teams or ‘bubbles’ which limit the number of people they have contact with.
- Make arrangements to manage contact with customers, visitors, contractors and third parties - Wherever possible, use remote technology instead. Monitor and manage footfall in busy areas to maintain social distancing, arrange for contractors to undertake work out-of-hours provided security can be maintained, and inform visitors in advance of any new arrangements (e.g. visits by appointment only). Minimise the number of people in meetings and their duration.
- Avoid sharing objects (such as pens, cups, plates, flip charts and equipment) in common areas - to reduce transmission risks.
- Provide regular communication and reminders to employees - via posters, information and tailored training, to ensure any changes to rules or processes stay "top of mind", and everyone is clear about your expectations. They should be available in different formats and languages, tailored to the target audience.
- Develop or review your policies on medical care or vaccines – Consider whether updates are needed in light of government guidance. Are you conducting in-house tests? Are test results recorded and retained securely? Will new systems be required? Do you need to monitor and record vaccination status? Is this proportionate and justified? Will vaccine certification be required for parts of your operations or team – e.g. those who travel on business or handle food? What if employees refuse or aren’t able to have a vaccine for health reasons? (They may be protected under the Equality Act.).
- Provide advice and support to promote mental health and wellbeing - for example, via a manager or mentor, mental health champions, an Employee Assistance Programme or external organisations (such as Mind, Samaritans, etc.). Check out the SOM toolkit produced in partnership with ACAS, Mind, BITC and CIPD. In particular, watch out for anyone who may be returning to work with additional vulnerabilities (e.g. bereavement, substance misuse or addiction, etc.).
- Arrange re-orientation or re-induction programmes for all returners - via informal one-to-ones with their manager. This enables you to identify vulnerable people, anyone who may struggle to return to work or with continued work from home and better understand priorities. Any return should be by mutual agreement.
- Ensure all decisions and new arrangements continue to meet our legal and compliance obligations - including data protection, safety and equality. In particular, ensure all decisions are made fairly and are free from discrimination and that access for people with disabilities or mobility problems is maintained if entry arrangements change. Promote inclusion by ensuring policies don’t unfairly favour or discriminate against certain individuals or groups (e.g. older workers or women with childcare responsibilities) and remind everyone that there is zero tolerance of harassment or bullying (e.g. aimed at people of east-Asian heritage or vaccinated workers).
- When in doubt, refer to Government guidance – which is regularly updated and includes guidance for ‘Working safely during COVID-19 in offices and contact centres’ and reopening businesses and venues.
Don't forget those still working at home!
We have a 3-stage Working from Home Compliance Roadmap, which includes our free Working from Home Training Module aimed at all staff, our Managing Homeworkers Training Module and supported by our Working from Home Self Assessment.
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