We review the employment aspects of the Government's Covid-19 recovery strategy.


Roadmap to lifting restrictions 

– Step 1: which will start on Wednesday 13 May 

  • Exercising more than once a day
  • Opening outdoor public places

– Step 2: no earlier than Monday 1 June 

  • Phased return for primary schools 
  • Opening non-essential retail
  • Permitting cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors
  • Re-opening more local public transport in urban areas, subject to strict measures

– Step 3: no earlier than 4 July 

  • Opening at least some of the remaining businesses and premises that have been required to close, including personal care, hospitality, public places and leisure facilities

Covid-19 Secure guidelines 

– "Covid-19 Secure" guidelines will be published this week dealing with new safety guidelines that set out how each type of physical space can be adapted to operate safely (p22).

– These guidelines are expected to provide more concrete detail on the specific safety guidelines which businesses are expected to follow.

Work-related guidelines 

Work 

– As soon as practicable, businesses are expected to follow the soon-to-be-published "Covid-19 Secure" guidelines (p25).

– Those showing symptoms must continue to self-isolate at home and not go to work (p26).

– Workers should continue to work from home rather than their normal workplace wherever possible (p25).

"Work from home if you can" (Appendix A)

  • Employers should support employees to find reasonable adjustments to be able to work from home.
  • If your workplace is open and you cannot work from home, you can travel to work.

– "Reduce the number of people you spend time with in a work setting where you can" (Appendix A)

  • Employers can support this by changing shift patterns and rotas to match you with the same team each time and splitting people into smaller, contained teams.

– "Avoid crowds" (Appendix A)

  • Avoid peak travel times on public transport where possible.
  • Businesses should take reasonable steps to avoid people being gathered together, for example by allowing the use of more entrances and exits, and staggering entry and exit where possible.

– "If you have to travel to work think about how and when you travel" (Appendix A)

  • Walk or cycle wherever possible.
  • Employers should consider staggering working hours and expanding bicycle storage facilities, changing facilities and car parking to help.

– "Keep indoor places well ventilated" (Appendix A)

– "You should follow the advice given to you by your employer when at work" (Appendix A)

  • For employers, frequent cleaning is particularly important for communal surfaces like door handles or lift buttons and communal areas like bathrooms, kitchens and tea points.

– Workers who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. This is restricted to those businesses that are allowed to be open which include (p25):

  • Food production 
  • Construction 
  • Manufacturing 
  • Logistics 
  • Distribution 
  • Scientific research in laboratories

– However, this excludes hospitality and non-essential retail which are required to remain closed during Step 1 stage (p25).

– When travelling to work, everyone (including critical workers) should avoid public transport wherever possible. Instead, people are encouraged to cycle, work or drive to work (p26).

Vulnerable employees

– Distinction is to be drawn between clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable.

– Those clinically vulnerable include those aged over 70, those with specific chronic pre-existing conditions and pregnant women (p.28).

  • They should continue to minimise contact with others outside their households but do not need to be shielded (p.28).

– Those in the clinically extremely vulnerable cohort will continue to be advised to shield themselves going forward (p22).

  • They are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact; this is called "shielding" (p28).
  • This means not leaving the house or attending gatherings at all, with very limited exceptions (p28).
  • Annex B carries more detail on the guidance applicable to different vulnerable groups. In particular, it distinguishes vulnerable groups further into clinically vulnerable and non-clinically vulnerable.

– Government will announce further measures to help the vulnerable categories (p22).

Face-coverings

– People should "aim to wear a face-covering in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet, for example on public transport or in some shops (p27)."

– This would seem to apply equally to workplace environment if social distancing would be difficult.

Localised restrictions

– Going forward, the government plans to target future restrictions based on location i.e. differentiating restrictions based on whether a particular location is deemed to be low risk or high risk (p23).

International travel

– Two measures are expected to be introduced although not immediately (p29):

  • Requirement for all international arrivals to supply their contact and accommodation information and to strongly advise them to download and use the NHS contact tracing app
  • Requirement for all international arrivals (those not falling within exemptions) to self-isolate in their accommodation for 14 days upon arrival into the UK

Key contact

Sungjin Park

Sungjin Park

Knowledge Lawyer, Employment
London

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