Watch the webinar
- Rain Newton-Smith, Chief Economist, CBI
- Elizabeth Graves, Employment Partner, Eversheds Sutherland
- Stuart Turner, Director of Risk and Business Assurance, English National Opera
- Ceri Thomas, Editor and Partner, Tortoise Media (chair)
In this session:
- Government has confirmed 19 July date for reopening: will be a huge moment for wedding planners, cafe planners, theatres, sports clubs.
- Key changes include: are dropping of 1m+ rule.
- Rule of 6 / 30 people limit for indoors / outdoors respectively
- People are also now no longer required to work from home.
- More controversial areas:
- The use of face coverings is now more of a ‘grey’ area and down to discretion for employers, although transport for London have confirmed they will continue to require face coverings.
- Self-isolation will have a big impact on businesses given the rise in cases: the CBI are asking for mid-August date for those who are double-jabbed not needing to isolate being moved forward in line with the roadmap.
- We have seen a big shift in responsibility from government to individuals and to business and we need more details on how firms should navigate this transition.
- From the 19 July, employers will be expected to make their own informed decisions on how to manage risks in the workplace and follow health and safety guidance but will still recommend regular cleaning measures, ensuring adequate ventilation, airflow, making sure staff/customers who are unwell don’t attend the workplace and communicating measures to staff.
- Despite removal of restrictions which were previously mandated, many employers may want to continue these under general health and safety measures – based on their sector and roles and in certain circumstances.
- There are also obligations on individual employees to take reasonable care for their own safety and others in the workplace – expects a gradual return to work over the summer. Who and when should come into the workplace, will it be voluntary? What will they do about face coverings, vaccinations, self-isolation. All things employers need to think about.
- Employer duty to undertake risk assessment on any areas on concern.
- Mandatory vaccines is a difficult issue. Will only really be permissible in a small range of circumstances e.g. healthcare sector and employers have to demonstrate reasonable H&S grounds that require it. However this will be subject to change and some employers are using vaccination as a condition for people to return to the office.
- Vaccination status is special category data so difficult for employers to compel employees to share this and again have to have strong reasonable grounds to request this information. Even when employees share information they need to be careful how they store and use this information, given its special status.
- English National Opera / theatre sector one of the final spaces to reopen. Rather than reinventing the wheel, it became apparent early on that lots of the health and safety systems they already had in place could be adapted to feature covid as an additional risk.
- Spent a lot of time talking to staff and customers, and public health teams about how to reopen safely and communication has been consistent throughout.
- As Monday approaches: staff feel really mixed and it is clear there are a range of different risk appetites.
- People have been voluntarily sharing their vaccination status and when employees are not able to socially distance the are ensuring there are robust mitigations in place e.g., testing.
- Self-isolation is causing ENO and the whole industry lots of difficulties, with the number of cases of ‘app pings’ - it’s making it almost impossible to carry on and a real ongoing challenge to keeping theatre going.
- Looked abroad and spoke to Sydney Opera house early on and looked at their learning there – a key challenges is managing the different risk appetites. Will be an evolving approach and will be keeping an eye – want to avoid creating a two-tier workplace and want customers who visit to feel safe.