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  • Overview

    An employment law expert has warned the "workplace is going to look and feel very different for some time" after Boris Johnson announced the start of a relaxation of the strict lockdown restrictions.

    And that could include staff attending the office on different days or weeks and staggered start and finish times.

    The Prime Minister on Sunday revealed the government was "actively encouraging" those unable to work from home to now return to work.

    But with social distancing rules still in force, offices and factories are likely to have to make some significant changes.

    Explains Ben Stepney at law firm Thomson Snell & Passmore, which has offices in Tunbridge Wells and Dartford: "The PM is clear. Those who cannot work from home are urged to return to work. And employers need to adapt their workplaces to make them Covid-secure.

    “Updated guidance for employers in various sectors is expected to be released early this week.

    “Employers will need to assess the risk of the virus being caught and spread in the workplace and consider how that risk can be mitigated. This exercise must be recorded in a risk assessment, which will record the extent to which the employer thinks social distancing can be practised in its workplace.

    “Based on current practice and the draft guidance, common measures will include having to split teams attending the workplace on different days/weeks; closing or restricting access to common areas, such as kitchens; limiting the sharing of desks and equipment; and staggered start and finish times to avoid congregation at entrances.

    "The workplace is going to look and feel very different for some time.”

    It follows a call for clear guidance from the British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall.

    He said: "Companies will do everything they can to protect employees and customers, maintain social distancing and operate successfully as more sections of the economy are permitted to re-open.

    “Businesses will need to see detailed plans for the phased easing of restrictions, coordinated with all nations across the UK and supported by clear guidance. It is imperative that companies have detailed advice on what will need to change in the workplace, including clarity on the use of PPE.

    “Firms will also need to know that government support schemes, which have helped save millions of jobs in recent weeks, will continue for as long as they are needed so that they can plan ahead with confidence.

    “The timing of further easing of restrictions must be guided by the public health evidence, but businesses need their practical questions answered so they can plan to restart, rebuild and renew.”

    This article first appeared in Kent Business - https://www.kentonline.co.uk/kent-business/county-news/workplaces-will-look-and-feel-very-different-as-lockdown-eased-226984/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Kent%20Business%20News&utm_content=Daily%20Kent%20Business%20News+CID_76a5a11470fed622ce261a21ce95ce2f&utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=Workplaces%20will%20look%20and%20feel%20very%20different%20as%20lockdown%20eased

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    Employment

    We act for businesses of all shapes and sizes and in many different sectors. Our advice covers all aspects of the employment relationship, helping to settle disputes, defending employment tribunal claims and providing immigration compliance audits.

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