You will, undoubtably by now, heard that it is only ‘essential’ workers that are to leave their homes to work, however, some non-essential workers are still being told to come to work, for fear of being dismissed or not being paid. There seems to be a lot of confusion amongst both the public, as well as employers themselves, as to what constitutes an ‘essential’ role at this time.
The clear and succinct guidance given by the government was that if there is any way that you can stay home instead of travelling to work, then this should be done for the protection of yourself, as well as the general public. Some bigger DIY stores have insisted that their workers are essential, in order to stay open and keep trading during the pandemic.
The government have been asked to urgently clarify exactly what constitutes an ‘essential’ worker. Whilst the guidance to the public has been to stay at home and limit social contact with others, the lack of clarity on what makes a worker ‘essential’ has caused a lot of ambiguity and confusion on the part of the employers.
From the information we have been given by the government, essential workers are people such as doctors, pharmacists, food production operatives, delivery drivers, plumbers/electricians, retail workers in food shops and some roles in the finance sector. If a role does not fall under those sectors, the advice is that the employees work from home.
It has been explained that if an employer has forced workers to come in to perform roles that are deemed as not critical, then they could face a legal claim from a health and safety perspective. This is especially true for businesses that the government has told to close down, including pubs, gyms, salons and clothes shops, however industries such as the construction industry are unclear on what they should do, leading to many labourers still having to attend work every day. These businesses have been told that they can continue to keep sites open and continue to provide a service if they can do so whilst maintaining social distancing from one another but putting this into practice can prove too difficult.
If you or your business needs help with any guidelines or working from home policies, give our accredited HR consultants a call on 01223 855441.
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