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DosMonday 20 April 2020

Dos and don'ts for employers during coronavirus lockdown

For the moment, the UK is still in lockdown and the government is resisting calls to apply an end date to their exit strategy. Aside from key workers, the government has stated people should only go to work ‘where this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home’. 

Employers must consider the following:

  • Are your workers ‘key workers’ and critical to the Covid-19 response (for example, in the health/social care sector)? If so, the government requires them to attend work. 
  • Is your business essential to the fight against coronavirus? For example, do you produce medical supplies? If so, the government has asked that you ‘keep going’. 
  • Are your employees able to work from home? If the answer is yes, you should urgently implement this.

Employers should assess the risk and consult government websites for updates. They should carry out an analysis of their staffing requirements and how many people they physically need in the workplace. 

All employers have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for their employees. If they force employees to go into work against government or medical advice and there is a genuine health and safety risk from being required to do so, this could amount to a breach of their duty of care. Further, if an employee contracts Covid-19 as a result of being forced to come into work, they could potentially have a personal injury claim. 

There is the added complication that all nurseries and schools have closed, except for children of key workers. Employees who aren’t key workers will therefore need flexibility to deal with childcare commitments. Employees have a statutory right to reasonable unpaid time off to deal with emergencies, so if employers insist workers come in despite a childcare emergency, they could face tribunal proceedings.

Key dos and don’ts for employers during lockdown

Do:

  • Comply with government guidance. 
  • Ensure staff safety. 
  • Allow employees to work from home wherever possible.
  • Communicate with staff clearly and reassuringly. 
  • Utilise government support schemes.
  • Take legal advice.

Don’t:

  • Scaremonger staff into coming into work. 
  • Prevent home working where it is possible. 
  • Ignore social distancing guidance.
  • Discipline staff who cannot attend work because they are self-isolating, have childcare issues or are a ‘vulnerable person’.  

If you have suffered an accident at work because of the negligence of your employer, please contact Oxford Accident Solicitors on 01865 315309 for a FREE, no obligation consultation on how to make a claim for compensation.

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