Safely Returning to Work After Covid Restrictions
Following the easing of lockdown, employees returning to work after Covid 19 restrictions are lifted can seem like a daunting task to handle. Not only is it important to ensure that you follow guidelines to keep both you and your employees safe, you will also need to follow guidelines to ensure that you are meeting government standards. In these uncertain times where so much is up in the air regarding what to do and what not to do, it can be difficult to understand exactly what you need to put into place in order to return to work safely. You will need to know how to create an effective return to work strategy that sticks to guidelines, as well as deciding whether or not returning to an office is best for your staff, or whether working from home is a safer long-term strategy. It is important to understand whether a business can force someone back to work or not, and if you ever feel uncomfortable returning it is imperative that you speak up and make your voice heard.
Adhering to Return to Work Guidelines
At time of writing the government has recently lifted all restrictions around the Covid 19 pandemic. The main return to work guidelines that people are expected to follow include:
- No limits on social distancing in any setting
- Face masks and coverings are no longer a legal requirement, although some facilities such as shops, pubs and public transport may still require them
- No limitations to how many people can attend certain events such as weddings, funerals, concerts or sporting events
- Fully vaccinated adults do not need to self-isolate following close contact to positive cases
With these guidelines now in place, returning to work after Covid 19 can be a lot easier than if you were attempting to in April 2021, for example. With this easing of restrictions, you will not need to worry as much about setting up your office in order to adhere to social distancing, although it is still strongly advised that you take some precautions in order to keep cases low.
Returning to work however can still be a daunting task with or without restrictions. Very rarely in the past have businesses had to fully shut down their offices for such a prolonged period of time, so smoothly transitioning back into the workplace is not something that people are used to. Because of this, we have put together return to work strategies that can cover all manner of different areas. We will be able to provide support for workers and employees in returning to the office in general, or for more specialist issues such as returning from furlough.
Creating A Return-to-Work Checklist
One of the most effective methods of returning to work efficiently is by creating a ‘return-to-work checklist’ of things that you need to consider in order to safely bring employees back. The checklist should include:
- Ensuring your office is clean and fully sanitised
- Ensuring you have a seating plan in place so everyone knows where to go
- If you can, try and implement a one-meter space around workstations
- Place hand sanitising stations around your building
- Ask employees to provide a negative test the day before they are due to return
- Have a clear idea of whether you will require face coverings or not
- Ensure you have completed a full risk assessment
Should Your Employees Continue Working from Home
One of the major developments that occurred throughout the pandemic is the introduction of working from home. Whilst there are drawbacks to working from your own home there can be definite benefits. Not only does it all but eliminate the risk of Covid 19 cases passing from worker to worker, it can also save a business a lot of money in terms of renting and running an office space or property.
This may be a factor when deciding on returning to work after Covid 19 restrictions are lifted as businesses may have realised that they can work just as effectively from home. If you are still choosing to allow employees work from home you will need an effective means of managing your remote workers and teams. We provide HR services that are designed to help businesses to manage their remote workers in order to maximise safety and productivity.
Return to Work Guidelines Frequently Asked Questions
Question – When can employees go back to work after Covid?
Answer – If an employee has had a positive PCR test for Covid 19 then they will need to inform you as soon as possible. They will need to completely self-isolate for a minimum of 10 days from when they first experienced symptoms. If they test positive without symptoms, but then begin to develop symptoms, they will need to restart 10 days of isolation from the start of the development. They can return to work after Covid 19 if they experience no symptoms after 10 days and they will need to provide a negative lateral flow test.
Question – Can employees return to work after a negative Covid test?
Answer – If an employee takes a lateral flow test that comes back as negative they will only need to self-isolate for 10 days if they have been in close contact with a positive case, or if there are more than two days between their lateral flow test and a PCR test. If they have previously tested positive for Covid 19 and have completed 10 days of isolation they will be able to return to work upon receiving a negative test.
Question – What do employers need to do if an employee tests positive for Covid 19?
Answer – Should an employee test positive for Covid 19, it is against the law for them to work anywhere other than wherever they are self-isolating. Should an employee not have the facilities to work from home then the employer should consider granting annual leave or company sick pay, if that’s available; or paying the employee a reduced salary for the isolation period.
Should you have any further questions or if you would like any further information regarding returning to work after Covid 19 do not hesitate to get in touch with Lotus HR. Our experts would be more than happy to help in any way we can.