Are you a contractor who’s usually office-based, and planning to go back on-site? Check our guide to the latest government guidance, and the steps you can take to minimise risk.
From travelling to and from the office, meetings and shared spaces to working from home where you can, these are the government’s guidelines for returning office workers.
If you’re classed as clinically vulnerable or high risk, the government strongly advises that you do not work outside your home. The same applies if you live with someone who’s clinically extremely vulnerable.
Check the government’s office and contact centres advice on protecting people who are at higher risk for more information, if you’re in this category and concerned about returning to office-based work.
If you’ve been advised to self-isolate at home, you shouldn't go into the office. The government guidance includes people with Covid-19 symptoms, people who live with someone showing symptoms and/or who are advised to stay at home as part of test and trace.
The government guidelines define this category as indoor environments, such as offices, contact centres and operations rooms.
Along with the government guidance signposted below, your employer or client may speak to you about new ways of working, to minimise coronavirus transmission risks. Here are a few things to expect:
If none of these steps are being taken, or you’re concerned about going to the office, you can speak to your employer or client. Make sure you reference the current government advice for contractors. Check the help and support section below too, if you’re worried about the health and safety measures in place.
Employers will need to carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment. They have a legal responsibility to protect workers, contractors and other people from health and safety risks, so an assessment that deals specifically with coronavirus risk is essential.
Businesses with fewer than five employees (or self-employed people) don’t need to write anything down for their risk assessment. It’s a case of working out where the increased Covid-19 risks are, and taking steps to protect everyone who comes into contact with the office.
Check through our risk assessments for small businesses and the self-employed guide, and contact the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for more information. There’s a dedicated Covid-19 helpline on 0300 790 6787 or a new working safely enquiry form, to get you started.
If you’re a contractor working in or visiting someone’s office, and you have a concern, you should contact your employee representative or trade union (if you have one), or HSE using the contact details above.
Employers and office managers must work with everyone in their office, including contractors, to protect health and safety. Here are the government’s steps to reducing the increased risk of coronavirus, in priority order:
If an activity does need to continue, you and the business should prioritise reducing the risk of infection transmission. The government advises:
Businesses (especially those with over 50 employees) should share their risk assessment with staff, including contractors, and publish it on their website where possible. The government has designed this notice, which should be on display in your office.
The government has advised that anyone who can should work from home. If you’ve been asked to come into the office, you should discuss this with your employer or client, and take the following steps:
If you'll be working from the office, it’s very important to minimise risks around arriving at and leaving work. They might not all be relevant to contractors, but see if you can apply any of these steps:
The priority here is to maintain social distancing. Again, the government advises these steps to reduce your risk:
If you work from a desk or workstation, it should allow you to socially distance wherever possible. Try not to share this space, and if you do have to, minimise the number of people. You should also avoid hot desks and/or clean and sanitise your workstation and any shared equipment, between use.
Remember, your employer has legal obligations around health and safety. So for example, if workstations can’t be kept two metres apart, they should consider whether the activity is necessary for the business to operate. If it is, they should apply the steps under four steps to minimising risk above to reduce transmission risks.
Face-to-face meetings and common areas should be avoided, where possible. Here are the steps to follow:
For up-to-date guidance on masks and other equipment, check the government’s office and contact centres advice on personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings.
If you’re a contractor returning to the office during this time, it’s important that you’re confident about your workspace, working with your employer or client to minimise the risks.
For guidance, help and further support, check and contact the resources and organisations below:
Are you planning to go back into the office soon? Let us know your questions and concerns in the comments below.
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