Working safely during the Coronavirus
On 10 May 2020 the Prime Minister announced that employees of certain industries, where it is not possible to work from home, should return to the workplace.
To assist with the transition of returning to the workplace, the Government has released guidance covering a range of different sectors/workplaces to help employers understand how to keep their employees safe during the Coronavirus crisis. Read the full guidance here.
Employers’ fundamental duty
Employers have a statutory duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of their employees. This fundamental duty means that employers must put in place suitable arrangements to manage health and safety at work.
When determining what is reasonably practicable, a balance must be struck between the degree of risk in the workplace against the time, cost and physical restrictions of taking measures to avoid or reduce the risk.
Under the guidance issued by the Government, employers in all sectors must assess and manage the risks of COVID-19 by carrying out a risk assessment. Employers should use the guidance as a basis for making decisions to identify measures which should be taken to address health and safety concerns. See the full guidance for further details on risk assessments.
Discussing Health and Safety with Employees
Employers have a duty to consult employees about their risks at work and the current preventative and protective measures taken by the employer to reduce the risk. As suggested in the guidance, employees are often the best people to understand the risks in the workplace and will likely have a view on how to ensure safety at work. It is therefore recommended that employers discuss with employees how to work and manage risks from COVID-19, including their proposed measures.
For further guidance see HSE’s guide to working safely during COVID-19.
If you would like any Employment/HR advice please contact our Employment Partner, Kate Brooks on 01202 525333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.