New workplace guidance covering 8 workplace settings has now been published by BEIS:

  1. Construction and other outdoor work
  2. Factories, plants and warehouses
  3. Home environments
  4. Labs and research facilities
  5. Offices and contact centres
  6. Restaurants offering takeaway or delivery
  7. Shops and branches
  8. Vehicles (covering couriers, mobile workers, lorry drivers, on-site transit and work vehicles, field forces and similar)

The guidance applies to businesses currently open and also includes guidance for shops which may be in a position to begin a phased reopening at the earliest from 1 June.

The new guidance follows a similar structure for all 8 workplaces and sets out practical steps for businesses focused on 5 key points, which BEIS states should be implemented as soon as it is practical:

1. All reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help people work from home. Those who cannot work from home and whose workplace has not been told to close should be working, once the employer has confirmed when their workplace will open.

2. Employers will need to carry out COVID-19 risk assessments in consultation with their workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place. The results of the risk assessment should be shared with the workforce.  Employers should consider publishing the results of their risk assessments on their website if possible, and all businesses with over 50 employees are expected to do so.

3. Employers should re-design workspaces to maintain 2 metre distances between people wherever possible, by staggering start times, creating one way walk-throughs, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.

4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, employers should manage the transmission risk. They should look into putting barriers in shared spaces, creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams minimising the number of people in contact with one another, or ensuring colleagues are facing away from each other.

5. Workplaces should be cleaned more frequently, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards. Employers should provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.

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

The guidance also addresses the issue of vulnerable workers (but not the extremely clinically vulnerable who are shielding) who are unable to work from home.  The guidance states that they should be offered the option of the safest available on site roles, enabling them to stay 2m away from others. If they have to spend time within 2m of others, employers should carefully assess whether this involves an acceptable level of risk taking into account specific duties to those with protected characteristics (so, for example, expectant mothers are entitled to suspension on full pay if suitable roles cannot be found). “Particular attention should also be paid to people who live with clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.”

Guidance for other sectors that are not currently open will be developed and published ahead of those establishments opening to give those businesses time to plan. On 13 May the Government set up five taskforces to work with these sectors to develop safe ways for them to open at the earliest point at which it is safe to do so, as well as pilot re-openings to test businesses’ ability to adopt the guidelines. The five taskforces cover:

• pubs and restaurants
• non-essential retail (including salons)
• recreation and leisure, including tourism, culture and heritage, libraries, entertainment and sport
• places of worship, including faith, community and public buildings
• international aviation.