If you are soon to be reopening your business after lockdown or bringing back your staff, you are likely to have a huge number of questions.
As HR experts we are used to helping our clients navigate the myriad of employment legal aspects to the Covid 19 crisis. We have taken the five questions we are asked most often and compiled them for your convenience.
All the information in this blog is correct at the time of writing. However, the state of affairs around COVID 19 in the UK and the world is moving very quickly. Please be sure to check gov.uk for the most up to date information.
When Can I Reopen My Business Premises?
That depends on the type of business you run, how the premises are set up and how customers interact with your products or services.
There are some businesses that can open if they can operate with no contact, such as takeaways, or are providing essential services, such as food supermarkets.
However, there are some businesses that must remain closed without exceptions. These include hair and beauty salons, funfairs, bowling alleys, soft play centres, cinemas, museums, and nightclubs.
The full list of businesses that can open or must remain closed can be found here on the Government website.
Non-essential shops, such as clothes or toy shops, can open from 15th June, as long as the government’s five tests continue to be met and measures are put in place to allow for sufficient social distancing.
Open-air businesses that do not rely on people being close together, such as car showrooms and open-air markets, can open from 1st June. Again, this is dependent on the business putting social distancing methods in place.
Before you consider reopening your business after lockdown, be sure to check the latest advice.
When Can I Get My Staff Back To Work?
Well, that depends on what pattern of work you are thinking about.
If your staff can work from home and you have enough work for them to do, they can be brought back to work when you want. If you want to bring them back to the office or business premises you need to follow some steps.
The CIPD are urging employers to consider three key areas before deciding to bring their staff back to work:
1) Is it essential that your staff return to the office? Can they work from home for longer? Or can the Job Retention Scheme continue to be used to give you time to ensure it is safe to bring them back?
2) Is it safe? You have a duty of care to safeguard the health and wellbeing of your employees. Can you make the workplace safe enough to have all your employees back or do you need to stagger their return?
3) Is it mutually agreed? Actually it doesn’t have to be mutually agreed, but it would be reasonable to show you had considered objections from your staff. Your employees might have concerns that are outside your control, such as public transport and childcare. It is a good idea to be flexible and considerate to these real concerns.
Reopening your business after lockdown will be throwing up lots of questions around holiday, redundancy, and absence management. Be sure to seek HR advice before you take any action.
What Social Distancing Rules Do I Need To Comply With If I Reopen My Business Premises?
This can change from business to business, depending on the nature of it. But generally speaking, there are some rules every business premises must follow:
- Maintain 2 meters between every individual at all times. This includes between staff and customers.
- Make it clear people are not to enter the premises if they have symptoms (new, persistent cough, high fever, loss of taste or smell).
- Do not allow the premises to become overcrowded.
- Provide hand sanitiser or handwashing stations and encourage people to use them.
- Ensure staff wash their hands for 20 seconds and more frequently than normal.
- Encourage the use of contactless payments where possible.
There is specific advice for different sectors on the Gov.uk website here. You must have these measure in place before you reopen your business after lockdown or bring staff back.
When Can I Let Customers Into My Business Premises?
Once your business is allowed to open and you have put all the measures in place to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, you can let customers back in.
It is essential that you consider how customers are likely to want to interact with your business.
For example, Kurt Geiger are quarantining their shoes for 24 hours after someone has tried them on. Waterstones are removing books off the shop floor for 3 days if someone has touched them.
We all have an obligation to keep staff and customers safe and reduce the spread of the virus. If you can demonstrate that you have put the correct and proportionate measures in place to protect everyone, and the government are allowing it, you can open your business to customrs.
Get in touch with us to discuss how you should be keeping your staff safe.
What If My Staff Don’t Want To Return To Working On My Business Premises Yet?
Before you ask to bring your staff back you should do a written risk assessment and update your health and safety policy (this must be a written document if you have more than 5 employees).
You should speak to your employees in the first place about why they might not want to return to work. Show them the risk assessment and communicate the steps you have taken to make it safe.
Then, you should seek HR advice.
This is a tricky situation. Coronavirus is currently viewed as a reasonable health and safety threat that cannot be fully mitigated. This may leave you, the employer, vulnerable to a potential tribunal claim in the future.
Give us a call and we will be more than happy to provide our expert HR advice on returning to work after lockdown.
This is an unprecedented situation that many businesses are not prepared for. Our consultants at Metis HR are available to discuss your concerns around bringing your staff back to work. We are on hand to navigate you through all aspects of HR and employment issues during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Let’s work together to protect you, your business, your staff, and your customers as you return to work after lockdown.