Covid employer guidance updates | April 2021

Government updates its roadmap reviews including consultation on workplace social distancing measures

On 5 April 2021, the Government updated its Roadmap Reviews policy paper to provide clarity on how the Covid-19 pandemic will be managed after the final step of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown is reached on 21 June 2021.

In respect of the four separate review programmes, the latest updates are as follows:

Covid-Status Certification Review: This review aims to look at providing reassurance that an individual is at reduced risk of transmission and confirms that the Government is exploring different approaches, with the NHS continuing to work on providing individuals with digital and non-digital means to evidence their Covid-19 status.  

Global Travel Review: This review explores the means to make international travel possible again, whilst reducing the risks of transmission of Covid-19 cases. The intention is to employ a traffic light system depending of the risk of the destination countries. The Global Travel Taskforce is expected to publish its report shortly.

Events Research Review: This programme aims to explore different approaches to allow events such as football matches and large crowd venues to operate safely. Early pilots are intended to rely on testing to demonstrate Covid-status, whereas later testing will incorporate additional information such as vaccination status.

Social Distancing Review: This review is exploring whether existing rules, designed to limit virus transmission, could be applied differently or relaxed in different settings, including the workplace. The review is looking at key measures, including the operation of the 1m+ rule and related Covid-secure measures, and related home working guidance. The outcome of this review will invariably dovetail with the Covid-Status Certification Review, including whether Covid-status certification would allow changes to the social distancing rules currently in operation.

The TUC's survey reveals that employers are failing to follow Covid-secure rules

The TUC's 2020-21 survey of more than 2,100 workplace safety representatives, published on 29 March 2021, reveals that many employers are failing to follow Covid-secure rules and this is putting workers at risk of infection and avoidable illness. 

The survey found:

  • 35% of safety representatives reported inadequate provision of PPE.
  • 25% of representatives reported that physical distancing between colleagues was not always implemented (either social distancing or other physical barriers) whereas 22% reported the same compliant in respect of distancing between employees and customers.
  • 83% of safety representatives said employees had tested positive for Covid-19 in their workplace, while 57% said there were 'significant' numbers of cases at work. 
  • 65% said they are dealing with an increased number of mental health concerns compared to a pre-pandemic period and 76% cited stress as a workplace concern.
  • More than a quarter of safety representatives said they were not aware of a formal risk assessment being carried out. 9% said their employer had not carried out a risk assessment, while 17% said they did not know whether a risk assessment had taken place. Of those who said their employers had carried out a risk assessment, 23% said they felt the risk assessments were inadequate. 

Working safely guidance updated

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport have updated their collection of sector specific guidance on working safely during Covid-19. The update includes additional information on ventilation (emphasising the importance of supplying fresh air to enclosed spaces, either through natural or mechanical means), regular testing for staff who cannot work from home (and the availability of free test kits until the end of June) and the roadmap easing restrictions.

NHS Test and Trace workplace guidance updated

On 5 April 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care updated its NHS Test and Trace workplace guidance to state that every customer or visitor (not just the lead member of a group) must be asked to scan the NHS QR code or provide their contact details when entering a venue.

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