Living with Covid – a guide for employers

May 3, 2022

 

By Owen John

As things return to a semblance of normality, we answer some of the key questions employers are now asking themselves about living with covid at work.

Do employers still need a covid risk assessment?

Technically no. Employers are no longer legally required to have a specific covid-19 risk assessment. By law, employers only need to consider the risk of covid-19 in the same way as other transmittable diseases (e.g. flu and norovirus). However, as covid-19 is still very much around, we would still advise employers to consider covid-19 specifically as part of their risk assessment.

Are covid measures in the workplace still needed?

Whilst the legal requirement to consider covid-19 specifically as a risk has been removed, the guidance remains that all employers should take steps to protect its staff. Whilst these measures will be different from employer to employer, we would still advise employers to continue with cleaning, hygiene and ventilation measures where possible.

Can employers force staff to return to a physical workplace?

If an employee’s employment contract says that an employee’s place of work is at the employer’s physical workplace, then yes. However, employers still need to protect the health of safety of their staff, so we would advise that employers consult and communicate with staff about the plans for returning to a physical workplace. This could involve reassuring staff of how safe the workplace is.

What if a member of staff is showing covid symptoms?

This will be up to the employer. However, given that employers have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of all staff, we would advise employers to require those who are displaying symptoms to stay away from work where possible. Whatever the employer’s policy on this however, the important thing is that it’s written down, communicated to all staff and applied consistently.

What about staff who were previously on the shielding list?

There is no longer a requirement for anyone to shield. However, employers should be mindful that staff who were previously shielding may be nervous about returning to a physical workplace. Our advice is that employers should talk to these staff members to explain what measures are still being taken to protect them in the workplace. An employer may also need to discuss any specific reasonable adjustments needed for those staff members.

Can employers ask whether staff have been vaccinated?

Yes, as long as they explain that the information is needed purely to assess risk and protect staff, and will be kept confidential.

 

If you need any information about employment law and covid, please get in touch with Owen John on 02920 829 118 or ojohn@darwingray.com for a free, no-obligation chat to see how he can help.

 

  

 

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