Lockdown 3, what’s changed?

As lockdown measures continue to tighten their grip it's time to remind ourselves about our safety responsibilities as an employer.

Despite the good progress with the vaccination effort so far – the happy new year we all wished for is going to have to wait. As lockdown measures continue to tighten their grip across respective parts of the UK (and the world), and with many of us continuing our job roles as full-time homeworkers, we thought it was good to remind ourselves about safety responsibilities for an employer in times like these.

A new year is always a good time to consider our approach to things, taking stock of what you might repeat or look to change up. But additionally, this latest lockdown is politically different for employers. Yes, vital support mechanisms for businesses continue during this latest phase of the pandemic, but we are seeing a number of notable changes to the political landscape in which employers are operating this year.

2020 lockdown vs 2021:

  • There is increasing messaging from the government for people to work from home, unless it is impossible to do so [1]
  • Yet some commentators are suggesting loose regulations are allowing employers to bring ‘non-essential’ workers, into the workplace - pointing to a lack of HSE enforcement notices served to employers, regarding Covid safety breaches as evidence [2]
  • There is growing comment from Unions regarding working parents to be furloughed in light of school closures to children of non-key workers [3]
  • We’re seeing increasing alignment at sector level, where needed within certain industries, in order to help tackle the spread of the virus [4]

Whilst all of the above is interesting to note, it doesn’t change the position for many employers that have mobile, or home working personnel as we continue to ride out the effect of the pandemic. In terms of an employer’s safety responsibilities, nothing has changed.

Homeworking and duty of care:

In these times, home workers are rarely forgotten about, but just to reiterate – the duty of care they are afforded is no different to an office or shop worker for example. An employer’s responsibility to its workforce is the same for home workers, as outlined by the HSE [5].

The reliance on technology quite rightly continues for all of us working remotely – and whilst much of this involves Zoom calls, Teams meetings or Google hangouts – it also extends to any safety technology issued to staff by their employer.

Personal safety technology – including lone worker monitoring devices, remain part of these options for enabling regular contact with their employer. Allowing easy communication, automatic alerts and facilitating worker reporting. Clearly, the HSE states that any use of monitoring technology needs to be supported by clear procedures, whilst ensuring they are well communicated to staff.

Things to continue during ‘Lockdown 3’:

As we continue to navigate our third national lockdown, here are a few of the things that employers should continue to facilitate, to support and get the best from their mobile workforce at the same time:

  • Continue to ensure employees feel connected with managers, and other team members
  • Agree the best way to stay in contact and find a frequency that works for a team and the wider organisation
  • Keep up to date on a human level too, don’t always just make it about the ‘to do’ list
  • Continue to reassure the staff throughout the pandemic
  • Reflect any formal requirements within policy to ensure everyone knows what is expected of them

Talk to a member of our team about how a SoloProtect solution can help you facilitate essential contact across your team and comprehensive personal safety.

[1] Minister steps up pressure on UK firms over home working
[2] Firms accused of putting workers’ lives at risk by bending lockdown trading rules
[3] Furlough denied to 71% of working mothers while schools shut, new survey reveals
[4] UK retailers face up to challenge of enforcing mask-wearing
[5] Protecting lone workers - How to manage the risks of working alone

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