Going to work / Safer spaces
Who is allowed to go to work?
In the first instance, employers should make every effort to support working from home, including by providing suitable IT and equipment as they have been already. This will apply to many different types of businesses, particularly those who typically would have worked in offices or online.
Where work can only be done in the workplace, we have set out tailored guidelines for employers to help protect their workforce and customers from coronavirus while still continuing to trade or getting their business back up and running. We will be publishing even more detailed COVID-19 secure guidelines in the coming days, which has been developed in consultation with businesses and trades unions.
These ‘back to work’ guidelines apply to those in essential retail like:
- those in construction and manufacturing
- those working in labs and research facilities
- those administering takeaways and deliveries at restaurants and cafes
- tradesmen, cleaners and others who work in people’s homes
- those who are facilitating trade or transport goods
- and so on
Non-essential retail, restaurants, pubs, bars, gyms and leisure centres will remain closed. They will reopen in a phased manner provided it is safe to do so.
There are specific guidelines for those who are vulnerable, shielding, or showing symptoms.
What is a critical worker?
Critical workers are those working in health and care and other essential services, who can still take their children to school or childcare and can use hotels and other accommodation services for work related purposes – for example if they can’t get home after a shift or need to isolate from their families. This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work – if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work provided if you cannot reasonably work from home.
What is meant by the phased approach?
Not all forms of work will return to normal at once. People will have to prepare for a new type of normal. We need to make sure that any changes we do make are carefully monitored and that we aren’t doing anything to increase the risk of infection and push the Reproductive value (R0) above 1. R0 describes how many people on average will be infected for every one person who has COVID-19.
We will ensure that businesses have time to prepare their premises to operate as safely as possible.
We will set out more detail about the phasing in due course.
Will you open pubs / cinemas / hairdressers in July?
The roadmap sets out that some businesses (like pubs, cinemas or hairdressers) will not open until Step 3 is reached.
The government’s current planning assumption is that this step will be no earlier than 4 July and subject to further detailed scientific advice, provided closer to the time, on how far we can go. When they do reopen, they should also meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines.
What are the ‘Covid-Secure’ safety guidelines workplaces have to be put in place?
We have set out clear, practical steps that businesses should take to ensure their workplaces are safe and give their staff the confidence to return back to work. We will be publishing even more detailed COVID-19 secure guidelines.
These include how to keep as many people as possible safely apart from those they do not live with in various workplace settings.
Do people need to wear face coverings at work?
Face coverings are not compulsory. However, if you can, people are advised to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where social distancing is not possible or where you are more likely to come into contact with people you do not normally meet. For example, on public transport or in some shops. Face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms.
A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used as part of personal protective equipment by healthcare and other workers; these should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace such as health and care workers and those in industrial settings like those exposed to dust hazards.
Will a face covering stop me getting COVID-19?
The evidence suggests that face coverings can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms.
To protect yourself, you should continue to follow social distancing measures and isolation guidance and wash your hands regularly.
My employer is asking me to come to work but I’m scared.
Employers and staff should discuss and agree working arrangements.
Employers should make all efforts to help people to work from home where they can. But where work cannot be done at home, employers should take clear, practical steps to help protect workers and create safe places to work, such as shift working or staggering processes. To identify the precautions needed to manage risk, your employer should discuss the workplace risk assessment with you to identify the practical ways of managing those risks.
If you remain concerned that your employer is not taking all practical steps to promote social distancing then you can report this to your local authority or the Health and Safety Executive who can take a range of action, including where appropriate requiring your employer to take additional steps.
We are publishing further specific “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines on how to make workplaces safe, which have been developed in consultation with over 200 business leaders and trades union organisations.
What if they try to fire me because I won’t go to work but cannot work at home?
We urge employers to take socially responsible decisions and listen to the concerns of their staff. Employers and employees should come to a pragmatic agreement about their working arrangements.
If individuals need advice, they should approach ACAS where they can get impartial advice about work disputes.