Proposed rules to end workplace lockdown
A Financial Times article has pointed towards some of the proposed workplace rules that may come into play under Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to ease lockdown restrictions in the coming weeks.
This, according to the article, includes the restriction of workplace lift usage to half capacity, continued closure of staff canteens and reduced hot-desking in a bid to keep workers separated from one another.
The proposals – which are said to be laid out in seven documents that were privately released on Sunday evening – state that employers will have to stagger shift patterns and ensure that employees adhere to social distancing measures, regardless of whether they are at work or on a break.
Additionally, face-to-face meetings will be discouraged, and employers will be told to increase car parking facilities to prevent any colleagues from having to lift share.
At last night’s press briefing, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, said that Johnson’s “comprehensive plan” – which could be unveiled as early as this Thursday – will detail the methods for “travelling to work more safely, and how we can make life in the workplace safer”.
Gove also added that changes to workplaces would be “staged” and not actioned at the “flick of the switch”.
For any staff members working in environments that come into close contact with customers, such as shop assistants and bank workers, employers must protect them with plastic screens.
However, office workers will be urged to work from home to prevent the transport system from becoming overwhelmed.
It has been reported that employers will have to create a COVID-19 “risk assessment” before they return staff to work. This would mean that employers would have to create a document that delves into the ways that they can maintain a safe working environment for staff.
While much of the guidance points towards measures that keep employees apart, the FT reported that workforces will be able to temporarily breach social distancing measures in the case of a fire alarm or other workplace emergencies.
Additionally, guidance regarding cleaning practices is also set to be listed.
It has been reported that the proposals in these documents were laid out by the business department after discussions with trade bodies, unions and executives.
According to City A.M., office workers will likely have to wait several more months before being able to return to the office.
In addition, the Sunday Times reported that some sectors, including construction and other jobs that can’t be completely remotely, will be advised to return to their physical workplaces as early as May 25, 2020.
The businesses expected to open last include pubs, restaurants and theatres.
When lockdown measures were unveiled in March – and many businesses were forced to temporarily close – Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced the launch of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
Under this scheme, the Government pays 80% of furloughed staff wages on the proviso that the employee doesn’t carry out any work for the business. Employees could receive up to £2,500 per month.
However, employers are calling for adjustments to be made to make the Government’s furlough scheme more flexible, as well as to be extended to September.
The CIPD’s survey of 1,000 employers found that firms want the scheme to allow furloughed workers to work reduced hours where possible. This is something that the current guidelines don’t allow.
“Letting furloughed staff work some hours, where possible, will enable organisations to bring back workers from furlough gradually while rebuilding their business,” explained Peter Cheese, the CIPD’s Chief Executive.