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25/09/2021

Back to the office after home working

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This week’s relaxation of the Covid-19 restrictions means employers must now use their judgement rather than follow clear rules.

For example, the government hopes businesses will welcome more staff back into workplaces, but it’s up to employers. Masks are no longer mandatory in most settings, but terms may still require staff to wear them.

Making these decisions requires employers to make difficult judgements about risk and what is reasonable- and legally enforceable. The easing of restrictions does not countermand your legal health and safety obligations.

That means you will need to keep carrying out risk assessments to gauge what is needed to prevent the virus from spreading in the workplace.

It may be legal and reasonable to require staff to keep working from home or wear a mask in certain situations. Some professions are considering requiring staff to declare their
vaccination status.

Employment lawyers stress the need to work with employees-some may want protections that go further than you propose, while others may want more freedom. But employers will, in the end, have to lay down the law. Staff who refuse to comply may even face disciplinary proceedings.

There have already been several disputes. Employment tribunals typically supported employers, provided they could show their rules were reasonable.

Kris Paterson is a writer for WhatJobs.com

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Should staff return to the office?

For example, it may persist with current Covid-19 precautions in the workplace, requiring employers to plan for social distancing and to provide extra hygiene facilities. There may also be special arrangements in place for Vulnerable workers, such as pregnant women and those who have been shielding during the crisis