Who Is Affected by the New Work from Home Rules?
The latest health & safety advice from the UK government has seen the nation go back to the message of working from home. This change of tactic came into effect at the start of this week but who is affected and who should continue going to their usual workplace?
The Basic Details
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he wants businesses to remain open, but to do so in a “Covid-compliant way." In his message, he specifically mentioned “office workers who can work from home" as being encouraged to do so.
The overall advice is for anyone who is able to stay at home and work to do so, as a way of trying to slow the rising rate of infections. If the role can’t be carried out at home then the workers should go to their place of work, provided that Covid-secure guidelines are being followed there and it is safe to return.
In terms of key pubic services and all types of job where working from home isn’t an option, it is recommended that these workers carry on going to their workplace as before. This includes the retail and manufacturing sectors.
Construction workers were also mentioned as being among those where they need to carry on going to work as usual. In this industry, Covid safety measures should already be in place, together with standard security precautions such as the use of a step unit or suitable ladder when working at height.
An additional measure sees a 10pm curfew imposed from September 24, forcing businesses such as pubs and restaurants to close at this time, but overall the measures aren’t quite as drastic as at the start of the lockdown, when virtually everyone was asked to stay at home.
What Has the Reaction Been Like?
The initial reaction to these new controls was mixed, with hard-pressed sectors such as hospitality among those where business leaders have criticised the new health & safety measures. The decision to put a 10pm curfew in place will hit this area hard, while they are also expected to suffer due to the reduced footfall when people stay at home.
Others welcomed the changes as a way of trying to reduce the spread of the disease, while avoiding the damaging step of shutting down the economy again.
There is now more emphasis on the role of employers in areas such as construction in keeping their workers safe. Part of this comes down to social distancing, with staff encouraged to limit face to face contact between themselves and with clients as much as possible.
All businesses in the UK have to conduct a Covid risk assessment and look at ways to introduce health & safety precautions such as a one-way system and suitable PPE where needed.
One point of concern is over what would happen if the company wants their employees to return but those workers don’t feel that it is safe to do so, due to the workplace not having complied with all of the correct measures.