The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has issued new guidance to help employers safely reopen workplaces in England.

The keyword there is ‘safely' after Prime Minister Boris Johnson stressed that places of work "must be safe and COVID-secure".

In a bid to elaborate on what exactly qualifies as "safe and COVID-secure", guides for eight different lines of work in England have been published.

The focus remains on implementing social distancing measures in workplaces in England.
More stringent approaches towards easing the lockdown are being adopted in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Alok Sharma, business secretary, said:

"This guidance provides a framework to get the UK back to work in a way that is safe for everyone.

"These are practical steps to enable employers to identify risks that COVID-19 creates and to take pragmatic measures to mitigate them."

The guidance for employers focuses on five key points.

1. Work from home, if you can

Employers should take reasonable steps to enable staff to work from home.
That guidance still applies to almost all employees in the UK, aside from the key workers and workplaces that have not been told to close.

2. COVID-19 risk assessments

Employers will need to conduct COVID-19 risk assessments, in consultation with workers or trade unions, to establish what guidelines to put in place.

If you employ more than 50 members of staff, the Government expects you to publish the results of your risk assessments on your website.

That expectation does not apply to the smaller employers, although they are also being advised to publish the results online.

3. Stays two metres apart

This is the tricky part. For example, how do you reopen a barber shop and adhere to the social distancing rules?

The same question applies to most other forms of indoor work.

The Government advises employers to redesign workspaces to stay two metres apart from colleagues.

This could be achieved by creating one-way systems, opening more entrances and exits, or changing seating layouts in break rooms.

4. Manage transmission risk within two metres

In workplaces where it's impossible for workers to be two metres apart, employers are advised to consider putting barriers into shared spaces.

Perhaps the easiest way to maintain social distancing in the workplace is to stagger start times in a similar way to shift work.

Allowing fixed teams into the workplace at set times could minimise the number the workers in contact with one another.

Another way to minimise transmission risk, the Government said, is to ensure colleagues are facing away from each other.

5. Increase cleaning

Workplaces in England should be cleaned more regularly, paying close attention to high-contact objects like door handles and keyboards.

If you were not providing these in the workplace before lockdown, provide handwashing facilities or hand sanitisers at entry and exit points.


Employers should show empathy to returning workers who do not have access to childcare, according to the PM.

Asked what people should do if they do not have access to childcare and cannot work from home, Johnson said:

"If people don't have access to childcare and they have a child who isn't back in school, it's only fair to regard that as an obvious barrier to their ability to go back to work."

Spot checks

Johnson has said employers will "not be allowed to get away with forcing people to work in conditions that are not COVID-secure".

The PM confirmed the Health and Safety Executive will conduct "a lot more" random spot inspections to monitor employer compliance.