Firms in Coventry and Warwickshire have been advised on the steps to take as they begin to reopen following fresh government guidance.
The Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce’s latest business intelligence video call for corporate and strategic partners heard from Tina Chander, head of employment law at Warwickshire-based Wright Hassall.
She told businesses they must carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment, consult staff on it and display a poster in their premises or on site before reopening them.
Staff should, she said, continue to work from home where possible in line with government guidance.
Ms Chander said: “The Government’s Covid-19 guidance has split the economy into eight sectors. Much of it is the same for each sector with slight differences depending on the environments they work in.
“The first thing to note is that the overriding message is still to work from home where you can but what we have seen over recent days is a strengthening of the message for people to go back to work if they can’t work from home.
“In order to do so, businesses must carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment to make sure they are Covid-secure.”
Outlining what that involved Ms Chander added: “That covers a range of different measures around maintaining social distancing and closing off communal areas that may pose a potential risk. The guidance is slightly different for each sector.
“Firms must then consult their staff and agree the risk assessment with them.
“This could be all staff, depending on the size of the company, or it could mean staff electing a representative with whom the employer would consult or a health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union.
“Either way, it’s vitally important that businesses comply with their duty to consult with their staff on health and safety and, once it has happened and the risk assessment completed, a poster is displayed to show that government guidance has been followed.
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Ms Chander urged companies not to put the matter off.
She said: “If companies have already returned to working in their office, factory or on-site, and have not carried out this risk assessment or consultation, I would urge them to pause and do it before they continue.”
“It is clear that the Health & Safety Executive will be monitoring this very closely as businesses begin to return and we restart the economy.”
Hazel Pilling, membership manager of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said it had been an extremely informative video call.
She said: “Since the Prime Minister’s address on Sunday and the additional guidance that has followed, businesses have been trying to digest exactly what they need to do before they welcome staff back onto site.
“It’s clear, and must be reiterated, people should continue to work from home where they can as the advice on that has not changed.
“We are extremely grateful to Tina for running through some of the general advice to businesses and bringing them up to speed with the risk assessments and consultation that need to take place.”