Following the government’s announcement that home-working staff should be encouraged to return to their workplace next month, the TUC is calling on employers to ensure they have adequate safeguards in place before doing so.
Accusing the government of passing the buck to employers, the TUC points out that getting back to work safely is not just a matter of returning to the workplace. It also requires a functioning NHS Test and Trace system as well as a safe public transport system if people are to be able to physically get to work.
In addition, before reopening a place of work, employers have to complete a risk assessment and ensure that the risk to workers is minimised through the introduction of measures such as social distancing. They must also consult their staff trade unions.
The TUC is therefore asking employers to ensure they have taken the following steps before asking staff to come back to their workplace:
- Completed their COVID-Secure risk assessments as required by law, in consultation with unions and their workforces
- Published their COVID-Secure risk assessment on their website, as the government expects
- Taken the actions from the risk assessment to enable safer working, such as requiring social distancing and supplying PPE if it is required
- Shown flexibility and consideration for workers’ individual circumstances, including considering caring responsibilities, those who are shielding, and those who have other health conditions, whether mental or physical
- Allowed workers who rely on public transport to have staggered start times to prevent a rush hour crush.
The TUC is also calling on government to make flexible working the default and give all workers the right to work as flexibly as possible from their first day in the job. This could include the right to predictable hours, working from home, job sharing, compressed hours and term-time working.
Finally, the TUC stresses the need for employers to remember that not everyone can return to the workplace full-time or straight away. For instance, people who have been advised to shield and those without enough childcare may still need to work from home for the foreseeable future.
To read more about carrying out risk assessments and creating a COVID-secure workplace, the TUC has created a COVID Secure Check page: https://covidsecurecheck.uk/
Articles shared by Thompsons relating to coronavirus (COVID-19) are correct at the time of publication. You should check the government's guidelines for the latest information and advice at https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus.