Living with COVID – public health guidance for employers
The UK Health Security Agency has published new public health guidance for employers in England on reducing the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, in the workplace. The guidance has been published as part of the Government’s “Living with COVID-19” strategy. It replaces the previous “Working safely during coronavirus” guidance.
The guidance – key points
The guidance provides the following:
Employers may wish to consider how best to support and enable their workforce to follow the guidance for people with symptoms of a respiratory infection such as COVID-19.
To reduce the spread of respiratory infections, employers should:
- Encourage and enable vaccination. There is a link to separate guidance “COVID-19 vaccination: guide for employers”
- Let fresh air in.
- Maintain a clean workplace.
There is no requirement to report workplace outbreaks of respiratory infections to the local public health team. However, in the event of high levels of symptoms in the workplace, the above actions should be “applied more rigorously”.
Employers may wish to consider the needs of employees at greater risk from COVID. There is a link to separate guidance for people at higher risk.
The requirement for every employer to consider COVID-19 in their health and safety risk assessment has been removed. However, employers may choose to continue to cover COVID-19 in their risk assessments.
Employers should continue to comply with existing Health and Safety legislation regarding cleaning, ventilation and welfare facilities in the workplace.
Despite the lifting of COVID-specific restrictions and the withdrawal of the Working safely guidance in England, employers still have to comply with existing health and safety obligations. It is important to keep up to date with Government guidance as and when it is issued and updated. As ever, however, it is important to remember that Government guidance does not supersede employers’ existing legal obligations relating to health and safety or equality.
13 April 2022
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