Westminster Diary

14th May 2020

On 23 March the Government announced lockdown measures and required certain businesses and venues to close. Our message to workers was that if you can work from home, you should work from home. And millions did.

At the same time, the Government provided guidance on how those who could not do their work from home, could continue to operate as safely as possible in workplaces which were not required to be closed.

This week the Prime Minister set out steps to beat the virus and restart the economy, so we can protect jobs, restore people’s livelihoods and fund the country’s vital public services.

To support this, in my capacity as Secretary of State for the for Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, I published new ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines across eight workplace settings, which are allowed to open. We have worked with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) as well as approximately 250 businesses, unions and industry leaders to develop this best practice on the safest ways of working.

For those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close, our message is clear: you should go to work. To support this transition, the guidance provides practical steps for employers to take, including running a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with employees or trades unions. If possible, employers should publish the results of their risk assessments on their website and we expect all businesses with over 50 employees to do so.

The guidance also provides pragmatic advice on how to maintain social distancing or reduce transmission where maintaining two metres distance is not possible. For example, re-designing workspaces to maintain two metre distances, staggering start times and cleaning workplaces more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards.

A downloadable notice is included in the documents, which employers should display in their workplaces to show their employees, customers and other visitors, that they have followed this guidance.

To support employers and employees through this, I have also announced up to an extra £14 million for the Health and Safety Executive, equivalent to an increase of 10% of their budget, for extra call centre employees, inspectors and equipment if needed. And as we are able to reopen new sectors of the economy, we will continue our collaborative approach working with a wide range of stakeholders, to provide guidance for additional workplaces.

Throughout this pandemic, I have been struck by the way people have looked out for one another and these working safely measures have been produced in that spirit. In this time like no other, we all need to work together safely as we rebuild our economy.


There are eight workplace guidance documents, which can be accessed via:

https://www.gov.uk/workingsafely

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