Watch the webinar
- Deborah Fraser, Director for Regions, CBI (Chair)
- Fiona Geskes, Principal Policy Advisor, Tax and Fiscal Policy, CBI
- Steve Ross, Senior Health & Safety Consultant, Alcumus PSM
- Mel Darlington, Senior HR Consultant, Alcumus PSM
Returning to work:
- Alcumus PSM provide HR, employment law and health and safety guidance to SMEs
- Many SMEs are asking “how do we ensure our premises are safe for a return to work?”
- It’s important to plan effectively
- Some specific checks you need to make:
- Building structures – has there been any structural damage since closure?
- Essential services – check your electric/gas is up and running, and your inspection date hasn’t expired
- Water – systems may have been inactive, allowing bacteria to build up. Ensure you flush through all water systems before use
- Deep cleaning – this might be necessary to remove dust and instil trust in staff
- Essential equipment – test fire alarms and book any overdue tests
- Statutory examination – all equipment that requires this (vehichles, compressed air, etc.) must be checked before using.
- It’s important to ensure your risk assessment covers all aspects of work, including travel to and from work
- Three key principles of preventing transmission of Covid-19:
- Isolate those with symptoms, shield the vulnerable
- Social distancing
- Effective hand hygiene
- Identify those who can continue to work from home. Advise your staff to avoid mass transit where it can be avoided. If it can’t, look at staggered start times
- Identify areas where infections could be higher and where controls can be implemented
- Use technology in place of in-person meetings
- Hand sanitizer/washing stations should be located at entry points and throughout the workplace. Employees should be encouraged to wash their hands regularly. The workplace should be cleaned more frequently than usual, with special focus on items like handrails and door handles
- Arrangements should be considered for visitors and contractors
- Provide employees with information to ensure they feel confident
- Read Alcumus’ practical guides here. In addition, Ensafe’s guidance for keeping workers safe can be found here.
The future of the Job Retention Scheme (JRS):
- The government has announced the JRS will continue until October, but with the below caveats:
- The scheme will close to new entrants on 30 June 2020. Employers are only able to furlough employees after this date if they’ve already been furloughed for a three-week period
- Flexible furloughing comes in on 1 July, meaning employees can work part-time
- After 1 August, employers will be unable to reclaim pension or NI contributions
- After 1 October, the government will only reimburse 60% of salaries (employers will have to top up to 80% or more)
- While furloughed employees can’t do any work, they can do training and development if they’re willing to. Employers need to start considering their needs before any of the looming deadlines.
How can we support those who are in work and vulnerable?
- Consider how can you plan for people who must not work outside of the home. How long have they been advised to do this for?
- Keep in contact with them about any changes, and to gauge their mood and discuss the adaptations they need.
- What constraints does the home environment place on their ability to do the work?
- For any workplace risk, protected characteristics need to be taken into account
- If social distancing or barriers can’t work, could the job be rearranged so employees aren’t face to face? Could you set up partners/teams to minimise the spread of any infection?
Key questions we answered:
- What if we have shared premises?
- For small kitchens you could implement ‘one in, one out’ and make it a requirement for them to disinfect any areas used
- For toilet facilities, individuals should be asked to clean touch points with wipes/antibacterial solution.
- What if employees don’t follow our guidance?
- Safety rules apply to all staff. Failure to adhere to rules could lead to disciplinary actions
- If employees refuse to return to work, try to understand their concerns and why they won’t come back. See if the working environment could be adapted. Could they work from home or be furloughed? If you’ve done all you can and they still refuse, it could lead to a disciplinary.
- Can we bring someone off furlough short term and then re-furlough them?
- 10 June is the deadline for furloughing staff.
- If an employee has been on scheme for more than three weeks and then returned to work, they can be furloughed again in June as long as they have been registered as furloughed during the scheme.
- However, if this haven’t been done by 10 June you won’t be able to furlough them.
- Does the 10 June deadline apply to staff returning from maternity leave?
- If they come back after the 10 June deadline they can’t be furloughed.