COVID - As an employer, what are your real responsibilities?

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

There seem to be quite a lot of confusion when it comes to the real responsibilities of employers to make their premises "Covid-secure". As a health and safety professional, the idea of bringing some clarity to the matter came to me while discussing with the steward at my local social club what measures he should actually put in place, to prevent, or in case of a positive case amongst his customers or staff.

"Does someone playing snooker in the club need to wear a mask? "

With Covid hitting businesses and revenue hard, the average employer has been very busy trying to recover from the effects of lockdown, leaving little time to work out the current guidance, let alone the constant revisions to ensure their business is compliant.

Health and Fire Safety, as experts in the field, will attempt to bring you some clarity on the current guidelines and how to ensure that your staff and clients are safe.

1. What does my business need to do if one of my team member is showing symptoms of Covid?

You need to send the person with symptoms home and they needs to self isolate and get a test. If they get a positive test, they will need to self isolate for ten days from when their symptoms started. When it comes to the consequences on yourself and your business refer to question 2.

2. Does the rest of my team need to self isolate? If so how many?

If the person has a positive test, your staff members will need to self isolate if they have been in close contact 48 hours prior to the infected person getting symptoms.

This means:

  • Been within 1m of them, face to face or skin on skin for any amount of time

  • Been within 1m, NOT face to face for more than a minute

  • Been coughed or sneezed on

  • Been within 2m of the person for 15 minutes or more

  • Have been in a car with them however short the journey

3. When can my team members come back?

  • The person with the positive test can come back after ten days of self isolation providing they no longer have a temperature.

  • If a team member has been in close contact with someone infected with Covid within 48 hrs of the infected person showing symptoms, they will need to self isolate for 14 days from the day of contact.

  • If they themselves get symptoms they must get a test, if that test is positive, they must self isolate for ten days from the onset of symptoms, which may be more or less than the original 14 days.

4. What do I need to do to my premises if I have a positive case amongst my team?

You will need to deep clean all the areas that the employee may have been working in following the guidelines. We have also identified a way of fogging a premises to remove the virus that could well be appropriate. Get in touch to find out more.

5. What information and how do I need to give the information to my team?

It is essential that you tell your team, what process you have put in place to keep them and the workplace safe, including:

  • Access to your risk assessment detailing all your controls.

  • What they will need to do to keep themselves safe.

  • How they can talk to you about their concerns.

  • When someone has tested positive (without naming them).

  • What you will be doing if someone tests positive.

  • Who will need to self isolate if you have a positive case.

We can support you with writing up a staff member information booklet to give out to your team.

6. Do my employees need to wear a mask in the office/in my factory if they are not working for the general public?

As of October 2020, if you staff members can maintain a 2m distance between them, they will not need to wear a mask.

7. What about lifts? Do I need to put any restrictions in place?

You will need to look at the current guidelines and see how many people are able to use the lift with a 2m distance between them.

8. What are the rules for the use of kitchens and staff rest areas in my business?

The best advice for kitchens is to ensure they are assessed to identify:

  • How you are going to clean in between use.

  • How many people can access at once, whilst keeping to the correct distance.

  • It may be wise to tell staff to bring their own cups, spoons and equipment and increase cleaning after they are finished using the kitchen equipment.

  • When it comes to the use your kitchen equipment, this can be the use of fridge doors, microwaves, dishwasher handles... there needs to be a thorough cleaning procedure put in place to avoid contamination. This can be antiviral wipes or sprays to be used between each person.

  • Additionally think of a process, allowing your employees to avoid people touching each others food and milk, which cannot be cleaned with antiviral products.

9. How can I support my employees mental health whilst working from home?

If you have staff working from home it is important to keep regular contact with them to ensure you identify any issues they may have. Allow for lunch breaks, as you would in regular employment time and ensure that employees are reminded to take regular breaks, ideally away from their work station (even to consider a walk outside). Make sure that your employees are aware of the different services available if they were to find themselves in a difficult mental health situation. Support them with the help of the services, in recognising the symptoms of mental health issues and the solutions.

For physical health remember, if they are DSE users, you will need to ensure they have the correct DSE equipment.

10. Oh, what about our snooker player? Mask or no mask?

As for wearing a mask to play snooker, the advice is: if anyone is

undertaking exercise or an activity and it would negatively impact their ability to

do so, they do not need to wear a mask. Some people will think that their snooker

is negatively impacted so the answer for them is no. However, we urge employers and patrons to use common sense and be safe, protecting themselves and others.

"There are so many questions and there’s a maze of information out there that seems to change every other day."

The biggest difficulty for employers is that people have widely differing views about how seriously to take this pandemic, from social distancing, to wearing a face covering. From Government conspiracies to genuine fears for themselves and their families.

A recent positive case at a local school created very passionate responses from people on social media, with some parents immediately pulling their children out, demanding the whole school be deep cleaned.

Do you think that is a proportionate cleaning response?

This makes putting the right controls in place a nightmare for employers but they have to put a suitable and sufficient management system in place.

We recently helped a local engineering company pose all of these questions and put a Covid risk assessment in place for his buildings and his staff and we talked through all these important questions and many more.

From social distancing floor markings, to posters and other information. From cleaning touch points on machines, to carrying out deep cleaning in the event of a positive case.

Get in touch if you need support in ensuring you follow the correct rules and guidelines and are you ready to make your workplace Covid safe.

Contact us at

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