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COVID-19 Update: Amended Guidance on Working Safely

The Government has implemented several updates to its guidance on working safely during COVID-19 between 9 and 11 September 2020.

Employers will be aware of the new “rule of six” which has been widely covered by the media. The new regulations restrict both indoor and outdoor gatherings of more than six people and came into force on 14 September 2020. There are, however, exceptions to this rule which include where the gathering is “reasonably necessary” for work or education which should assist employers who require workers to attend their workplace.

Whilst, the “rule of six” has attracted a lot of attention, employers may not be aware of two other key changes addressed below:

1.  Test and Trace

The previous guidance simply stated that employers “should” keep records of staff working patterns for a period of 21 days. This has now been strengthened and it is now more onerous on employers as the updated guidance confirms that employers “must” do so, to assist NHS Test and Trace contain clusters or outbreaks.

In order to ensure that businesses are able to remain open, some close contact employers (for example hairdressers/barbers, restaurants and sports clubs) are now mandated to ask everyone who visits their premises to provide their contact details to assist NHS Test and Trace. These employers must now have a system in place to ensure that they can collect that information for their customers.

The updated guidance also refers to “new regulations” on Test and Trace that will be coming into force, confirming that any business that is found not to be compliant with these regulations will be subject to financial penalties coming into force on 18 September 2020.

2.  Priority Actions

Each guidance document now contains a list of “priority actions” at the beginning of the guidance and key points to be aware of. These actions include; risk assessments, cleaning, face coverings, social distancing, ventilation, NHS Test and Trace and turning people away with coronavirus symptoms.

The guidance documents can be found here and it may assist employers to read the guidance applicable to their business in full to ensure that they are compliant with the new changes.

This bulletin is for general guidance only and should not be used for any other purpose. It does not constitute, and should not be relied upon as legal advice.

JMW Solicitors is a Limited Liability Partnership.

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