Covid - Plan B: What Employers Should Do Now
New work from home guidance came into effect in the UK on Monday 13 December 2021. Here are a few tips for employers in light of the changes.
1. Continue to review the guidance
The key guidance points from the Plan B guidance are:
- Office workers who can work from home should do so.
- Employees who cannot work from home (for example because of equipment needs or because their role must be completed in person) should continue to go into work.
- Employees going into work should consider taking lateral flow tests regularly.
- Consider whether home working is appropriate for workers facing mental or physical health difficulties, or those with a particularly challenging home working environment.
The government has been clear that this guidance will be updated as the situation evolves. You should therefore continue to monitor the situation and be prepared to update your employees accordingly.
2. Communicate changes to employees
Employees may have questions on what the guidance means, including whether they can, if they wish, still work from the office. Be ready to provide a consistent response which is in line with the guidance - an FAQ document could be useful.
3. Consider a new Covid-19 vaccination policy
Many employers have already implemented a Covid-19 vaccination policy, with most encouraging, rather than mandating, vaccination in line with the Acas guidance. Whilst uncertainty remains as to whether compulsory vaccination in the UK will be extended beyond frontline health and social care workers (and also whether “fully vaccinated” means having had a booster), now is a good time to introduce a workplace vaccination policy, if you haven’t already.
4. Update HR policies
Employers should also take this opportunity to update key HR policies to reflect: (a) any lessons learnt from previous periods of working from home; and (b) the updated Government guidance. Focus in particular on your:
- Health & Safety policy
- Sickness absence policy – including the planned replacement of self-isolation with daily testing for close contacts
- Holiday policy – including changes in post-travel quarantine requirements
- Whistleblowing policy
- Homeworking policy