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Covid-19: Changes to office working practices

View profile for Helena  Oxley
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Covid-19: Changes to office working practices

In response to the rising number of coronavirus cases, on 22 September 2020 the Prime Minister announced some changes to working practices.

Key takeaways from the announcement:

  1. Office workers should work from home where possible. If this is not possible, they may continue to attend the office. Professions where homeworking is not possible, such as construction or retail, are unaffected and may continue to attend COVID-secure workplaces.
  2. The requirement to wear face coverings has been extended to retail staff, all users of taxis and private hire vehicles and staff in indoor hospitality.

Penalties for non-compliance with the guidance have been increased. The Prime Minister confirmed that COVID-secure guidelines in relation to retail, leisure, tourism and other sectors will become legal obligations from today, 24 September 2020. This is as per The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Wearing of Face Coverings in a Relevant Place and on Public Transport) (England) (Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020.

It is, therefore, important that employers complete risk assessments and provide clear communication of the particular practice to be followed to their respective employees.

Employees who are unsure of their particular obligations should obtain confirmation from their employer. Employees should be aware that it is their own responsibility to comply. The Regulations make it clear that it is the employee/worker, and not their employer, who is committing the offence and is liable to the £200 fine. 

The reasonable excuse exception for not wearing a face covering remains in place for individuals with disabilities or where wearing a face covering would cause severe distress. 

We offer employers and employees advice about how this latest announcement about changes to working practices affects you. Please contact our specialist employment lawyers. 

I can be contacted on 01206 217624 or helena.oxley@birkettlong.co.uk.

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