The Government has made several announcements now about working from home, businesses that must close and travel arrangements, leaving many feeling unsure of the current position.

A number of businesses and venues have been ordered to close.  These include: pubs, cinemas and theatres, libraries, bowling alleys and arcades, places of worship, hotels, hostels and caravan parks.  The full list can be accessed here (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance) and there are a number of exceptions.  Those businesses ordered to close must remain so until notified otherwise by the Government.  It is expected that these measures will be reviewed after three weeks.

Not on the closure list?

Any businesses not on the closure list can remain open and their employees can travel to work, provided they cannot work from home.  However, employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working. 

The Government acknowledges that it may not be possible for some employees to work from home if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services.  The guidance states that, where employees cannot work from home (and as long as the employer business is not on the closure list), they can still travel for work purposes, provided they are not showing symptoms of Coronavirus and neither they nor any member of their household is self-isolating.

Where employees are continuing to work, employers should ensure that the Public Health England guidelines are followed (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19).  These include, where possible, maintaining a two-metre distance from others, and washing hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds.

Currently, work carried out in people’s homes can continue providing that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms of Coronavirus.  Again, the Public Health England guidelines must be followed.  No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has Coronavirus symptoms, no matter how mild these may be.  Similarly, no work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household and the tradesperson is willing to do so.  In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to the tradesperson and the household.

Finally, it is worth reiterating that where any worker (or anyone in their household) shows symptoms of Coronavirus, they should follow the guidance on self-isolation (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection).

This is a situation that may well continue to change so it remains important to keep checking the latest Government guidance.

If you have any queries regarding this issue or any other Coronavirus related matter, please do not hesitate to contact our Employment team.

1 April 2020