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Coronavirus – Employers’ Health & Safety obligations

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a significant health and safety challenge to employers, who have a duty of care to ensure staff work in a safe environment.

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The COVID-19 pandemic presents a significant health and safety challenge to employers, who have a duty of care to ensure staff work in a safe environment. This applies to those who need to come into the workplace and those working from home.

The Health and Safety Executive advise that there should be regular contact with home workers to avoid any worker feeling isolated, which can affect stress levels and have adverse mental health consequences.

When working from home, employers should be particularly mindful of staff morale and mental health. Providing guidance, such as Collyer Bristow’s Guide to Working From Home,  and regularly checking in on them, can go a long way.

Employers should also ensure that they have an up to date home-working policy and:

  • highlight the need for rest breaks, correct posture and avoiding eye fatigue by changing focus from time to time;
  • where needed make available specialised equipment such as customised keyboards, mice and ergonomic chairs;
  • if the workplace remains open, to enhance cleaning operations to ensure all surfaces and high-contact areas such as toilets, door handles and telephones are sanitised regularly; and
  • to destroy safely all waste resulting from tissues and other materials that could carry the virus.

If a worker shows symptoms of COVID-19 then they should go home and self-isolate in order to combat the spread. Employers may wish to update their policy regarding sick pay to reflect changes to the statutory sick pay regime.

Effective communication will be key to ensuring that employees are kept abreast of developments and that they have full confidence in the measures that their employer will undoubtedly have to take to respond to the current pandemic.

If you have any questions on this topic or any other, please contact our free 30 minute Coronavirus Employment Advice Helpline and we can help you to consider the options available to you and your business.

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Tania Goodman

Partner - Head of Employment

tania.goodman@collyerbristow.com



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