The road map for returning to work

Monday 11th May 2020

The government have unveiled their road map to get people back to work. The recovery strategy comes into force on Wednesday 13.05.2020

It does however involve people who can work from home to keep working from home. Therefore, as an employer you should make decisions based on homeworking where possible.

Those who cannot work from home should travel to work if their workplace is open. The government has given a list of sectors which should be open – it is not an exhaustive list and includes food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics and distribution and laboratory based scientific research. The exceptions that must remain closed are hospitality and non-essential retail.

Anyone who has symptoms (even if they are mild) or is in a household where someone has symptoms should not leave their house to go to work. These people are required to self-isolate.

Child care will be a big issue for a lot of returning workers – the government is encouraging local authorities to ensure that more children who would benefit from doing so should attend school in person. Guidance is also to be amended so that provided public health guidance can be followed paid for child care can also resume.

The government are also encouraging returning workers to avoid public transport – you may therefore want to consider temporarily altering working hours to allow the extra time it might take to walk or cycle to your place of work.

The government is also now advising that face coverings are worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing is not possible. They are suggesting home made cloth coverings are sufficient and proper PPE face masks should be reserved for those who need it. A scarf therefore may be sufficient. You as an employer may need to consider whether you have a duty to provide suitable face coverings.

Those in high risk groups remain in high risk groups and should try and minimise contact with those outside of their home – these are pregnant women, those over 70 and those with specific chronic pre-existing illnesses. Those who are extremely vulnerable should continue to shield and not leave the house save for very specific reasons which relate to obtaining healthcare.

If you have someone who has a shielding person living in their home you should consider keeping them on furlough or working from home until the government’s guidance changes.

The second step in the Government’s plan is not going to be taken until at least 1st June.

Before you get workers back into the work place you really need to carry out a risk assessment and document it. There are some parts of the Government’s guidance you should bear in mind when drawing up your risk assessment:

● The work place layout – can people safely socially distance in the work place? You may need to consider moving desks away from each other for example, utilising spaces not usually used for working in. You should avoid layouts that place workers face to face with each other.

● The roles carried out by your staff – who can work from home? What equipment do they need?

● What resources do you have available for workers to wash their hands and maintain cleanliness?

● How many people are in the workplace at the same time? Can you stagger shifts or working patterns to minimise this?

● Ventilation – in good weather leave windows open.

● Provision of PPE – face coverings for example – the Government have published guidance on how to make them at home.

● Cleaning regimes – the Government has indicated that the virus can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours so it’s important that you have frequent cleaning in place.

For further assistance please contact a member of our Employment Law Team on 01384 811811 or email Hannah Scott at

What if employees won’t return to work?

Watch Hannah Scott’s video below which explores the options open to employers in these difficult times.