The Prime Minister has said that people in England who cannot work from home, should return to their workplace, and alluded to new guidance for employers to make sure the workplace is ‘Covid-secure’.

‘Covid-secure’ is as equally vague for both employers and employees as is the new dictum to ‘Stay Alert’.

It’s absolutely essential for there to be clarity in the government’s guidance and the minimum standards employees can expect if they return to work.

"The guidelines that are promised, if they are to have any teeth, must be clearly enforceable; a vague wish list that employers ‘may want to consider’ is a cynical evasion of leadership."

Gerard Stilliard
Head of personal injury strategy at Thompsons Solicitors

In the absence of clarity about minimum safety requirements, too many employers will be tempted to make up for lost time. That is a recipe for exploitation which, in the context of coronavirus (COVID-19), could mean infection, illness and even death.

Understandable, reliable and easily enforceable health and safety instruction from the top of government is vital, and the Prime Minister’s statement fails that test.

The Prime Minister has not provided clarity. He has sought to pass the buck onto employers and individuals, expecting them to take risks which – if there is a further spike – the government can then say they did not encourage, and lay the blame elsewhere.

The guidelines that are promised, if they are to have any teeth, must be clearly enforceable; a vague wish list that employers ‘may want to consider’ is a cynical evasion of leadership.