The Government, as of yesterday, released its 32 page plan to address Covid-19 during the Autumn and Winter (“the Plan”). The Plan includes a number of important considerations for businesses.
Over the course of the next few months, the Government will continue to update its “Working Safely” guidance for employers on a frequent basis. It is important for employers to consider such guidance regularly when preparing and reviewing their health and safety risk assessments. Employers must also ensure that employees stay at home and self-isolate where they are required to by law. The Government encourages employers to keep workplaces well ventilated and clean (including providing hand sanitiser for employees and customers where necessary).
The above measures all represent the current position and so are not controversial – they now form part of the Government’s “Plan A”. However, if the NHS becomes overwhelmed, such that the Government deems it necessary to implement its “Plan B”, it may:
- re-introduce the requirement to wear face coverings in certain settings;
- introduce vaccine-only Covid-19 status in certain settings; and
- ask people to work from home where possible.
With many employers having taken steps over the past year to welcome employees back to the workplace and the Government stating a concern as to the potential knock-on effects of homeworking on the economy, the Government has stated that asking people to work from home again would be the last resort.
On the topic of vaccination, the Government propose to rollout booster jabs for those aged over 50 years old and to offer the vaccine to children aged between 12 and 15 years old. Whilst such measures were largely expected, employers will need to tread carefully in circumstances where an employee’s child has not been vaccinated and is unwell with Covid-19. If the employee is vaccinated (and/or does not have to self-isolate themselves), any time off to care for their child will by law only need to be unpaid leave.
If you have any queries or concerns about your obligations as an employer in respect of the Covid-19 Autumn and Winter Plan, or about the impact of Covid-19 on your business more generally, our specialist team of Employment lawyers would be happy to assist you further. Please email email@example.com or call us on 01603 281153.