COVID-19 | Can my employees still come into work?
Following the strict new guidelines announced by the prime minister on Monday night (23 March 2020), one question many employers, and indeed employees, will now be asking is whether or not people can still physically continue to go into their place of work.
The government’s guidance announced on Monday states that people must now stay at home, except for in a limited number of circumstances.
Does traveling to work count as a genuine circumstance?
The Prime Minister indicated that one of the exceptions was travel to and from work “but only if this is absolutely necessary and cannot be done from home”.
Does this mean that the work carried out needs to be necessary? Or that the travel to get there is classed as necessary?
A government tweet suggesting that you could only go to work if you were a key worker was published following the announcement, but was then subsequently deleted.
Therefore, the position seems to be that the guidance doesn’t just apply to ‘key workers’; employees can still attend work where it is impossible for them to work from home.
Maintaining social distancing measures
Employers should consider very carefully whether their employees can in fact work from home. If this is not possible, they should follow the social distancing measures put place to protect them, such as ensuring they are able to maintain the minimum two-metre distance from other employees at all times and ensuring that strict hygiene protocols are adhered to.
Admittedly, this will be easier for some sectors than for others. Where social distancing is not physically possible, employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of their employees and should think about ceasing business or reducing employees to a level where social distancing is possible.
A full list of businesses that have already been told they must close with immediate effect can be found here.
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