Health & Safety – your obligations as an employer

Good health is a concern for all of us and the current pandemic is adding to that. Under the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, it is an employer’s duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business. As such, you must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this.

It is evident from initial claims to the Employment Tribunals that whilst claims under this legislation used to be rare, they are increasing.

For those employers whose employees are at work; you must ensure you have carried out the process to ensure your workplace is COVID secure. In addition, you should have, and should continue to, review your risk assessments in light of COVID (and of course if employees are pregnant or nursing mothers).

Within the risk assessments and overall, don’t forget about mental health. ACAS has issued a helpful guide on supporting staff with mental health during the pandemic.

Make sure your people know about wellbeing initiatives already in place, e.g. counselling, EAPs, Mental Health First Aiders etc.  If you don’t have any of this in place, we can help you with the introduction of Health Cash Plans or Employee Assistance Programmes and we can train people to be MHFAs along with mental health awareness sessions with your people (and all of these can be dealt with remotely).

The incidence of domestic abuse has grown enormously in the pandemic so it’s important to be aware of this for your people – if you need any help with this, please do contact us.

Don’t forget the Health Protection regulations came into force on 27th September in England, setting out mandatory periods for self-isolation and a duty on employees to notify the Secretary of State with details of people who reside in the same household as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and also notify their employer.  Employers are also responsible for stopping workers from carrying out work, except at home, where they are aware that the worker has tested positive or lives with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The fine for employers who fail to do this starts at £1,000 and can be up to £10,000.

The government have produced a set of ‘action cards’ by sector for companies to download as a quick reference to what is needed if they have an outbreak.

Lisa Trent is our HR guru

There really isn’t very much to do with people that she doesn’t know about! Whether it’s furloughing or people management, she’s on hand to help, but also listen.


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