Business Owner Responsibilities Regarding Coronavirus
Updated: Sep 2
Business owner responsibilities regarding Coronavirus will be with us for the foreseeable future. Regardless, of the lifting of Coronavirus legal restrictions businesses still have an obligation to manage risks.
What should you be doing?
In July 2021 the government removed the official restrictions that had been in place to stop the spread of coronavirus at workplaces. Social distancing measures were scrapped, and as a result, staff are no longer required to work from home. The government are encouraging employees to get back to the office as soon as possible.
On 16 August 2021, the government changed the rules on having to isolate if you come into contact with someone who has a confirmed case of coronavirus. Anyone who has been double vaccinated does not need to isolate. However, it is advised to take regular lateral flow tests and a PCR test if they develop symptoms.
Lateral flow tests are available from any pharmacy, free of charge. Those who have not been double vaccinated must isolate for a period of ten days.
More information is also available on gov.uk
Although the restrictions have been removed, this doesn’t mean you should drop all the precautions you had in place to prevent the spread of the virus. As a business owner, you are still required to meet health and safety requirements.
The government website states “Employers and others must continue to follow statutory health and safety requirements, conduct a risk assessment, and take reasonable steps to manage risks in their workplace or setting”.
When the official restrictions were in place, there was a standard for all. Now, it’s down to you to identify how far to go in managing the risks.
The government has issued six pieces of workplace guidance for various sectors of the economy. The guides cover a range of different types of work including all offices, factories and labs.
Separate guidance covers construction and other outdoor work, events and visitor attractions, hotels and guest accommodation, restaurants, pubs, bars, nightclubs and takeaway services, shops and similar environments and close contact services, including hairdressers and beauticians.
Employers may need to use more than one of these guides as necessary.
What to do to meet your Business Owner Responsibilities?
If you have fewer than five employees you don’t have to write anything down, but it might help if you do. Find out more about managing risk and risk assessment.
You should ensure you consider the risk to groups of workers who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus (COVID-19) and put controls in place to reduce that risk.
When you’re doing your assessment, you must talk with your workers about the measures you’re considering. They can provide valuable information on how you could reduce risks.
You should put monitoring and supervision in place to make sure the controls you have are working as expected.
Create a new risk assessment that reflects how you have identified to manage the risks of coronavirus in your workplace.
Your risk assessment should include a series of risk control measures that, if applied, will keep staff and others safe. The risk assessment will also keep you on the right side of the law.
Ensure that you cover the following key points.
Wearing face masks
The use of hand sanitiser
Businesses are encouraged to turn away people with COVID-19 symptoms. This will be difficult for employers to determine as the initial symptoms of a cold and COVID-19 may be similar. It remains an offence to allow a person who should be self-isolating to come to work.
Business Owner Responsibilities and legal obligations are important to follow. Communication with your staff is key. Keeping people informed of what your business is doing – whether it is good or bad news for individuals – will help them to make their own decisions and give them some degree of security in very uncertain times.
Knowing they are valued and supported by their employer – and that you continue to prioritise their health and safety – will be pivotal to their wellbeing.
A guide such as this cannot possibly cover every business situation, but it should help you think about the sort of issues that all businesses will need to consider. Keep up to date with the latest government advice.