‘If you can work from home, then you must do so’, was the continuing and resounding directive from the Prime Minister on the 5th January 2021. Not the way any of us wanted to kickstart the New Year, but it is what it is.
From this Governmental announcement, England entered another National Lockdown, meaning that everyone who can work effectively from home must do so. Only those people who cannot work from home (for example in construction or manufacturing) or those public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, can continue to go into work.
Government advice to work from home wherever possible offered two options for employers to consider:
- To support and embrace working from home, by way of flexibility and IT support, until lockdown restrictions or social distancing is relaxed. Remember that privacy laws apply.
- Facilitating a return to the workplace in line with COVID-secure workplace guidance when working from home is not possible.
By now Government enforcers, such as the Police Local Authorities and Health and Safety Executive, are touring the nation’s business parks, workplaces and road networks to question why anyone is not at home. There will be many valid reasons, but a defence of trust, inadequate IT access or simply team morale will not be tolerated by these enforcement bodies who are authorised to issue fines starting at £1,000 for the first and each offence. Fees for Intervention from the HSE, along with enforcement tools such as prohibition notices could also be expected. This could also come with some unwanted PR.
In fact, the Health and Safety Executive received 3,934 complaints between the 6th and 14th January on their COVID Support Line from concerned employees. This resulted in 81 convictions for breaches of COVID guidance and Health and Safety laws. If employees need to attend places of work then employers are strongly advised to have a very robust business reason for their attendance, and safe systems of work must be in place.
THSP’s services can support your individual business needs and help you to manage your workforce using the best practices. If you need help with your homeworking policy or a COVID Risk Assessment, call us on 03456 122144 to speak to one our friendly advisors today.