Back to the Office: Employers Responsibilities
The business sector has suffered a lot because of COVID-19. The biggest challenge for employers and employees has been working from home. While this is something that is not new but it wasn't being practised on a huge level. However, remote working or working from home became our new norm.
The government has been providing constant guidelines during the pandemic to ensure the safety of employees. For instance, since march, businesses have been getting updates on how to keep their workplaces secure against the threat of the virus. So, now that we all are set to go back to the offices, as employers, we need to aware of the guidelines in place.
The UK government has decided to remove all legal limitation on social contact now that more than half the population has gotten vaccination. However, the variants of this virus may hinder governments plan, but we are optimistic that on 21 June, things go back to (some sort of) normal.
Keeping in mind the government regulations, there are four things that employers must do to ensure the health and safety of their employees.
Business Travel: Protect Your Team
This not only negatively affects the employee but also the company. After offices start functioning as before, many employers may be worried about potential compensation claims from staff who travel for business and contract COVID-19. These claims can be hard to pursue successfully.
As employers, we can protect our employees by:
- Conducting risk assessments for all business trips
- Documenting the steps necessary for safe travel
- Making sure the staff only travel with reputable operators
- Covering the cost for safe and clean hotels
- Empowering the employees with the right information about where they are travelling and whom they are meeting up with.
Know Where You Stand as Employer According to Law
There are different health and safety duties that employers are responsible for under the law. These duties applied before COVID-19, during the pandemic and will continue after it.
Employers must do the following:
- Take care of employees' health and safety
- Provide a safe space and system for work
- In some circumstances, be liable for the negligence of employees
- Ensure where you stand as an employer
Establish Extra Safety Measures
Many workers will be concerned and nervous about returning to offices in June. Most will be worried about catching the Coronavirus.
So, as an employer, you need to:
- Get to know your workers' concerns about returning to the office
- Take necessary precautions to make your team feel safe at work
- Reassure them by explaining how you have made the office COVID-secure
Have a Written Policy
As an employer, we are responsible for having a written health and safety policy. This is a legal duty that every workplace must implement to have a COVID-secure working environment.
Furthermore, as an employer, it is our duty to bring the written policy to the attention of all employees according to the health and safety at Work Act 1974.
A recent study has revealed that 29% of those who have suffered from COVID-19 develop Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). It is thought that a third of coronavirus survivors may never fully return to work. This means that we should make sure that there is a personalised back to work plan that offers flexibility to employees in both the timing and structure of their working day.
What should be done for employees affected by the COVID-19?
As an employer, you should consider the following:
- Make sure all employees know the symptoms of the Coronavirus. They know what actions to take if they experience sickness, their sick pay entitlement and other necessary information; this all should be clear.
- For workers still based in their workplace, ensure that they follow the social distancing rules everywhere, including the rest areas. Always follow governments update of shift patterns to avoid peak travelling time and to lessen face-to-face contacts.
- Ensure everyone in the office has up to date knowledge and equipment to manage cleanliness at the workspace for post-infection management and prevention.
- Be aware of those classed as vulnerable to make sure the right actions are taken.
- Keep facilities easily available for employees to wash their hands regularly with soap. If possible also provide a hand sanitiser to encourage staff to use them at their workstations.
At Kuflink peer to peer lending, we are excited to work alongside the team in the office. However, we are putting in place every necessary step to ensure the security of our employees.