Additional safety measures in the workplace
Even when your staff return to the workplace, it will not be a return to business as usual – at least, until a vaccine or effective treatments for COVID-19 are found. You need to be ready to implement a range of additional safety measures to ensure a safe workplace environment.
Scale down meetings and events. It will be necessary to defer, hold virtually or scale back in-person events for some time. You may also need to reduce the frequency, duration and attendees of critical work meetings.
Ensure safe distancing. Increase the physical space between people, including by reconfiguring your staff’s work stations or, where possible splitting your team or staggering their working hours. Note that your employees’ consent may be needed to change their contracted working hours or location.
Provide additional safety equipment. You may need to both provide, and require the use of, equipment such as masks and hand sanitizer in your workplace. Where appropriate, institute temperature checks and health declarations in the workplace.
Provide health and safety training. Ensure your employees receive up to date training on health and hygiene so that you are in compliance with your obligations under health and safety laws.
Give clear safety directions. Employees suspected of having COVID-19 will need to receive clear direction to stay away from the workplace until they receive medical clearance. Consider whether you will require employees to report suspected cases, and how this will be balanced with protections under anti-discrimination or data protection laws.
Develop an incident response plan. You will need a clear response plan for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases. This will need to include elements such as the health and safety of others, mandatory notifications, internal and external communications and how to manage disruption to operations.
Anticipate your response to disciplinary matters. Specific circumstances need to be considered, but plan how you will deal with an employee who refuses to return to the workplace, or one who breaches mandatory quarantine, or one who travels to an infection hot-spot and is then prevented from returning to the workplace.