The new plan: Living with Covid
The Prime Minister’s ‘Living with Covid Plan’, amongst other things, ends the legal requirement in England for individuals who test positive for Covid-19 to self-isolate from this Thursday, 24th February and proposes that from 1st April free tests for the general public will be withdrawn.
This, effectively, means the burden shifts to employers to consider what approach to take, and what policies or rules to implement, to deal with Covid transmission in the workplace.
We recognise the need, after two years of the pandemic, to begin thinking about how we adjust our lives to manage living alongside Covid-19, but the decision to bring forward the removal of all protective measures while cases, deaths and the number of people seriously ill remain so high seems premature.
It’s not yet known how the devolved Governments will react, but we expect some on-going disparity.
All employers still have a duty to protect the health and safety of their staff, particularly those who are clinically vulnerable. And, as you’d expect, we’re talking to LBG to reach a position that strikes a balance between living with Covid and ensuring your health and safety at work.
We met early this morning with community bank business leaders to discuss what policies or rules should be in place to reduce the risk of Covid spreading in branches. Accord’s proposal is that:
- Homeworking should continue to be an option if a colleague tests positive for Covid.
- If home working is not an option, colleagues testing positive should be required to self-isolate and not come to work for a specified period (Government guidance is a minimum of 5 days) or a negative LFT.
- When government funding is removed for free LFTs, LBG should consider purchasing their own home test kits for staff or, at the very least, putting in place a scheme to support colleagues who can’t afford to pay for testing.
- Staff should be advised to wear face masks in the banking hall and when moving around the branch. Customers should also be asked to wear one. In face to face interviews, face masks for both colleague and customer should be mandatory given the enclosed environment in which interviews take place.
- All current control measures relating to cleaning should remain in place.
- Perspex screens, social distancing markers and posters should remain in place and the business should recommit to the principle of respecting colleague and customer personal space.
- A branch ventilation / air quality review should take place.
- The business should consider refreshing its Covid risk assessments, particularly in relation to pregnant and vulnerable colleagues.
We’ll be talking to LBG more widely over the coming days, but the impact on branch staff who deal with customers face to face is such that we felt it important to meet immediately.
We’ll update members as our talks with LBG progress.
If you have any concerns, feedback or questions in the meantime, get in touch with the officer who supports your workplace.