'COVID-Secure' - What you need to know

The Government has issued guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Government, in consultation with industry and trade bodies including the NFU, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible. 

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UPDATES - This document is in the process of being updated in order to reflect changes in Legislation that have come into force – If you require advice upon this area of law please telephone into the Employment Service Helpline on 0370 840 0234, Thank you.

For further advice, NFU Employment Service members can contact our Employment Specialists on 0370 840 0234.

Guidance and information is changing regularly, contacting our Legal Helpline will ensure that you are receiving advice on the current legal and best practice position.

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Since the Government began to ease the Coronavirus restrictions the Guidance outlining which businesses and venues in England must remain closed to members of the public and the dates upon which other businesses can look to re-open has been updated several times. The current Guidance can be viewed here. This Guidance applies to England, except for where local restrictions apply.

A list of areas that are subject to additional local restrictions can be viewed here. The areas which have local restrictions in place are under constant review by the Government so it is important that you regularly check for any updated information.

The Government Guidance closing certain business and venues in England sets out which business must by law remain closed but also provides a list of exceptions. If your business is within the list of exceptions, you can trade but this will be subject to you following any social distancing guidance and being able to operate safely. This is for the protection of yourself, your workers and members of the public.

In Wales all non-essential retail shops have been able to open from 22 June but some businesses must still remain closed. Details of businesses and premises in Wales that must remain closed can be found here: Coronavirus (COVID 19): closure of businesses and premises | GOV.WALES

In Wales all workplaces must take reasonable steps to comply with the physical distancing duty which helps to protect workers and the public from the threat  of coronavirus.

Government guidance continues to be that everyone should work from home unless they are unable to do so.

If your business is looking to re-open after a period of closure you must consider whether any of your workers can operate from home and if they can they should do so. If homeworking is not possible you need to consider what measures need to be put in place to ensure that workers who are coming into work are working in both a safe manner and in a safe environment.  

The Government announced on 17th July that from 1st August more discretion will be given to Employers as to whether their employees remained working from home or returned to the workplace. It was stressed that any return to the workplace would be contingent on it being safe to do so. Employers must take all reasonable steps to ensure that their staff can work safely. Employers may still take the view that allowing their staff to continue working from home after this date remains the best option for working safely within their business. At the present time the Government advice continues to be to work from home if you can do so.

Employers who are looking to get their staff back to work must follow Government Guidance about making their workplace Covid-secure and must consult with their employees about the steps that they are taking. The announcement by the Prime Minister only applies to England.

The guidance that has been issued is to assist those businesses where work cannot be done from home and who are legally allowed to trade to re-open their premises if they chose to do so. However, there is no requirement on you to re-open your business if you chose not to or are of the view that you cannot operate safely.

On 11 May 2020 the government announced ‘COVID-19 secure’ guidelines for employers to follow to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating as safely as possible. These guides apply to England.

Initially guidance was provided for 8 business sectors, but 6 new guidance documents have been issued. The new guidance covers:

  • Close contact services
  • Heritage locations
  • Hotels and other guest accommodation
  • The visitor economy
  • Performing arts
  • Providers of grassroots sport and gym/leisure facilities

All 14 versions of the guidance can be found here.

Information contained within all of the guides is being updated to reflect changes in Government advice so it is important to keep checking the guides that are relevant to your business. The Government has updated all 14 work sector guides. The updates include information on:

  • Discouraging shouting  - The guidance state that you ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission, particularly from aerosol transmission.
  • Opening customer cafes and restaurants
  • Advice affecting local lockdowns
  • Keeping records of staff (including shift patterns), visitors and customers, and
  • What action to take in the event of there being a COVID-19 outbreak within the workplace

Most recently the guides have been updated to reflect the changes on:

  • The rules on working from home - Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to ensure their employees can work safely. From 1 August 2020, this may be working from home, or within the workplace if COVID-19 Secure guidelines are followed closely
  • The wearing of face coverings
  • Safe disposal of face coverings and PPE
  • Work related travel
  • Ventilation - to mitigate the transmission risk of COVID-19
  • Amended guidance on mass gatherings within the workplace - Businesses following COVID-19 secure guidelines can host groups of more than 30 people indoors. For events in public outdoor spaces that are organised by businesses, charitable or political organisations, and public bodies, can host more than 30 people provided they take reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of transmission, in line with COVID-19 secure guidance and including completion of a risk assessment. Social distancing guidelines would still apply. Any other gathering in an outdoor space must not be any larger than 30 people. It remains against the law to gather in groups of more than 30 people in private homes (including gardens and other outdoor spaces).

Please refer to the specific sector guides applicable to your business to be aware of how recent changes may affect you.

There is also separate general food business guidance and guidance and advice for those providing hotel and other accommodation in England

The Welsh government have produced their own separate guidance for keeping ‘Wales safe at work’.

The Welsh Government have also produced a COVID-19 workforce risk assessment tool

Please see ‘IS THE POSITION IN ENGLAND AND WALES THE SAME?’ for more detail on this.


Employers are advised to look at the guidance which is specific to the nature of their business, and in some cases more than one set of guidance should be referred to where there is an overlap of the nature of the business.


The  Government guidance for England covers 14 workplace settings which are allowed to be open or have been given a date from which they can open.

On 23 June 2020, it was announced that from 4 July 2020 further measures will take effect in England only, to ease the lockdown and social distancing restrictions. The Prime Minister set out that where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’. This means staying one metre apart, plus mitigations which reduce the risk of transmission. These measures will be kept under review. The announcement made by the Prime Minister only applies to England and therefore does not change anything in Wales.

In additional to the sector guidance the Government has provided a summary of practical actions for businesses to take based on the 5 main steps outlined within the guidance. It is however important that you follow all of the steps and objectives outlined within the guides. The 5 steps are only to be used as a summary and are not a substitute to working through those sector guides that are applicable to your business.

The 5 steps are:

1. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment

Before restarting work you should ensure the safety of the workplace by:

2. Develop cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures

You should increase the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning by:

  • encouraging people to follow the guidance on hand washing and hygiene
  • providing hand sanitiser around the workplace, in addition to washrooms
  • frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly
  • enhancing cleaning for busy areas
  • setting clear use and cleaning guidance for toilets
  • providing hand drying facilities – either paper towels or electrical dryers

3. Help people to work from home

You should take all reasonable steps to help people work from home by:

  • discussing home working arrangements
  • ensuring they have the right equipment, for example remote access to work systems
  • including them in all necessary communications
  • looking after their physical and mental wellbeing

4. Maintain 2m social distancing, where possible

Where possible, you should maintain 2m between people by:

  • putting up signs to remind workers and visitors of social distancing guidance
  • avoiding sharing workstations
  • using floor tape or paint to mark areas to help people keep to a 2m distance
  • arranging one-way traffic through the workplace if possible
  • switching to seeing visitors by appointment only if possible

5. Where people cannot be 2m apart, manage transmission risk

Where it’s not possible for people to be 2m apart, you should do everything practical to manage the transmission risk by:

  • considering whether an activity needs to continue for the business to operate
  • keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
  • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
  • using back-to-back or side-to-side working whenever possible
  • staggering arrival and departure times
  • reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’

A downloadable notice is available for employers to display in their workplaces to show their employees, customers and other visitors to their workplace, that they have followed the guidance. The notice refers to the points outlined above and refers to them as ‘five steps to safer working together’. The notice has been updated from the earlier version to reflect the changes made to the 2m distance rule and further updated to reflect the change to the guidance on working from home. In view of this change this notice now applies to England only. For workplaces in Wales a copy of the applicable notice can be found within the sector specific Guidance issued by the Welsh Government. For further information see ‘How do I demonstrate to my employees that I have followed Government Guidance?’.

No, this guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities. It is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations, including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics.

It contains non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with these existing obligations. When considering how to apply this guidance, consider agency workers, contractors and other people, as well as your employees.

Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 imposes a requirement upon an employer to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees.

The legislation also states within Section 3 that every employer must operate their undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

In addition employees have a duty to take reasonable care of their own health and safety and to other persons who may be affected by their acts of omissions. Employees must follow health and safety instructions and policies that are put in place by their employer.

At the start of each guide examples are given of the types of work that could fall within the scope of that guide.

Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace and may include an office, a warehouse and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

A lot of the information within each guide will be applicable to all businesses regardless of the type of work that they do. In addition, each guide will also contain information that is of relevance to the sector that it relates to.

The guides set out various objectives and then provide the information which if followed will allow the employer to meet those objectives. The guides include useful tick boxes which will help to ensure that all the necessary steps have been taken.  

Each business will need to translate the information contained within the guidance into the specific actions that it needs to take. This will vary from business to business depending on the type of business, its size, its structure and the activities that it carries out.

A general health and safety risk assessment is something that each employer and self-employed person must carry out and is a process that you are probably already familiar with. Its function is to look at the hazards that exist within the business and to then identify and implement measures to remove or reduce the risks posed. This requirement is under Regulation 3 (1)(a) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

A COVID-19 risk assessment is one that is solely looking at the risks posed by COVID-19. It does not replace a risk assessment covering all other health and safety risks arising out of your work which still must be carried out and kept under review.

The starting point is to identify what risks exists within your workplace and what sensible measures you can put in place to minimise the risk of COVID-19 within your workplace. This is done by carefully looking at all of the operations that are carried out as part of your business. The risk assessment must be carried out in consultation with your workers, or with any unions that are recognised within your business.

Information on risk assessments can be found on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/ Their website includes interactive risk assessment tools plus templates and examples.

They have information specifically on carrying out a COVID-19 risk assessment here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/index.htm

The Welsh Government have also produced a COVID-19 workforce risk assessment tool.

The Government have also produced an online interactive tool that businesses which are allowed to reopen in England can use to check what their workplace needs to do to keep people safe. The online tool can be found here: Reopen your business safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) - GOV.UK

If you do not feel that you are able to carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment yourself, you will need to arrange for this to be carried out by an external person or organisation who is competent to offer this service on a commercial basis. It may be worth contacting your insurance provider to see if they can provide details of any organisations which are offering this service.

If you are self-employed, or if you have fewer than five employees you do not need to have a written risk assessment. It is strongly recommended however that as best practice you do record the findings of your risk assessment. This will enable you to focus on the risks that you have identified and the measures that you need to put in place to control them. It will also help you when sharing the findings of the risk assessment with your workforce as per the recommendation by Government in the COVID-19 secure guidelines.

It is then necessary to work through the findings of your risk assessment and take all reasonable steps to ensure that you can reduce down any workplace risks to the lowest reasonably practicable level. This is done by taking preventative measures. In the Guides the section headed ‘managing risk’ lists steps which should be worked through in order. These steps will, if followed, ensure that you are making your workplace as safe as it can be.

Your risk assessment is likely to identify numerous different tasks carried out by your workers. Each different function has to be looked at and if necessary, you may have to consider whether the way that each operation is carried out can continue to be done in that manner. The fact that a certain role has always been carried out safely in that way does not mean that it will be a ‘COVID-19’ safe way of operating. The COVID-19 risk assessment may require many business functions to be changed in light of the risks that are posed by the current exceptional circumstances.

Employers, the self-employed and people in control of premises, such as landlords, have a duty to protect people by identifying and controlling risks associated with legionella.

If your building was closed or has reduced occupancy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.

You should review your risk assessment and and manage the legionella risks when you:

If the water system is still used regularly, maintain the appropriate measures to prevent legionella growth.

Guidance from the HSE can be found here.

A notice has been produced which an employer can display within the workplace. The notice is updated by the Government as new measures are introduced. The notice can be found on the Government Website or by following this link: downloadable notice. The notice confirms that the employer has carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment of the workplace and has then followed the Government guidance on managing the risk. This notice is applicable to England only. For workplaces in Wales a copy of the applicable notice can be found within the sector specific Guidance issued by the Welsh Government.

As outlined above the risk assessment should have been carried out in consultation with your employees. Once the risk assessment has been carried out an employer should take steps to ensure that the results of the risk assessment are shared with the workforce. It is important that workers are made aware of all of the measures that have been introduced so that they can be reassured that you are taking their health and safety seriously.

It is also important to ensure that employees are clearly told of any additional requirements upon them, for example extra handwashing, or staggered breaks etc.  You should provide clear, consistent and regular communication to workers. Additional training should be provided if necessary and then monitoring to ensure that any changes to working arrangements are being followed.

It should also be made clear to employees that failure to follow any additional health and safety measures introduced by the employer may result in disciplinary action being taken against them. You should also encourage employees to report any health and safety concerns or non-compliance issues. It is in everyone’s interest to ensure health and safety rules are strictly adhered to.

The Government has said that it would expect all businesses with over 50 workers to display the results of their risk assessment on their websites. It would be good practice for all businesses to do this regardless of the number of workers.

You also need to consider any new signage and notices which may be required both for your workers and for visitors to the premises to ensure that they maintain social distancing and good hygiene practices.

AHDB have produced a COVID-19 poster which they have designed to be displayed in agricultural and horticultural workplaces to help keep staff safe and healthy. In addition to English the poster has been translated into 7 other languages. The poster can be found here: Coronavirus COVID-19 poster for farm workplaces | AHDB.

Guidance has been issued about cleaning your business premises and it can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings. This guidance relates to non-healthcare settings such as workplaces and offices. It does not replace any applicable legislation (including health and safety legislation) which currently applies to your business. It is important that you continue to meet any legal requirement for your particular type of business as this guide is of a general nature.

The Government has also issued Guidance on how to dispose of your personal or business waste, including face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE), during the coronavirus pandemic. The new Guidance which only applies to England can be found here

There is no universal face coverings guidance for workplaces because of the variety of work environments in different industries. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has provided detailed guidance for specific workplace settings. Employers must make sure that the risk assessment for their business addresses the risks of COVID-19 using BEIS guidance to inform decisions and control measures including close proximity working.

As a general rule, it is important to note that coronavirus (COVID-19) is a different type of risk to the risks normally faced in a workplace and needs to be managed through a hierarchy or system of control including social distancing, high standards of hand hygiene, increased surface cleaning, fixed teams or partnering, and other measures such as using screens or barriers to separate people from each other.

These measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace, but there are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial and a precautionary measure; this will largely be to protect others and not the wearer. If employees choose to wear a face covering, normal policies relating to occupational workwear and PPE will continue to applyWhere you are already using PPE, such as face masks, in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so.

In relation to the wearing of face coverings for public at large the English and Welsh Governments have taken different approaches as to whether face coverings should be compulsory and in what circumstances. For details of where it is a legal requirement to wear a face covering in England please check the government website for the latest list of places.  Examples of places on the list include:

  • Public Transport and transport hubs
  • Shops, supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, banks/building societies and post offices 
  • Visitor attractions such as museums, galleries, cinemas and indoor zoos and visitor farms
  • Places of worship

Please see the website for the full list.

The Government has issued guidance relating to face coverings in England – please note that this is general guidance for the public as a whole and not workplace specific and includes information on when a face covering needs to be worn, how to wear it, the circumstances when a face covering is not necessary and links to exemption card templates. The Government has also announced increased fines for members of the public who fail to comply with the law on wearing face coverings without a valid exemption.

A face covering can be very simple and may be worn in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible, it is not a replacement for other ways of managing risk. It just needs to cover your mouth and nose. Face coverings are not the same as the PPE used to manage risks like dust and spray in an industrial context, or by health and care workers. Supplies of PPE, including face masks, must continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace.

In situations where wearing a face covering is optional if you choose to wear one, or encourage your workers to wear one, it is important you support workers in using face coverings safely. This means telling workers:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and after removing it
  • when wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
  • change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
  • continue to wash your hands regularly
  • change and wash your face covering daily
  • if the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If the face covering is not washable the Government has also issued guidance on how to dispose of your personal or business waste, including face coverings and personal protective equipment (PPE), during the coronavirus pandemic. The new Guidance which only applies to England can be found here
  • practise social distancing wherever possible

The Welsh Government have issued guidance on face coverings. This guidance provided information on how and when you could use a face covering to protect those around you, if you choose to wear one. The guidance can be found here: Face coverings: frequently asked questions | GOV.WALES.

The Welsh Government’s guidance states that the evidence remains clear that the most effective way to protect yourself and others from infection is to follow social distancing rules, avoid touching surfaces and your face, and wash your hands regularly. Face coverings are not a substitute for these measures, but in some circumstances where it might be difficult to stay 2m away from others, they are advising the use of three-layer, non-medical face coverings.

On 13 July 2020 the First Minister of Wales announced three-layer face coverings will be mandatory on public transport in Wales from 27 July, including in taxis and other situations where 2m social distancing was not possible.

The change in the law will also apply to taxis and will help to protect people from the risk of coronavirus when travelling on public transport, when it is not always possible to maintain a 2m physical distance. Updated guidance issued by the Welsh Government for operators of public transport can be found here.

See above for what employers should tell their workers when using face coverings.

Certain employees who are clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable may still not be in a position to return to work even if you decide to re-open your workplace. These individuals would have been identified as part of your covid-19 risk assessment.

For workers who are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable they are strongly advised not to work outside of the home and they should not be physically returning to the workplace. These are individuals who are ‘shielding’. The Government is currently advising people to shield until 31 July 2020 in England, and 16 August 2020 in Wales. From 1 August 2020, in England only, those who had previously been advised to shield will no longer need to do so. Where they are unable to work from home, they can return to their workplace, so long as it is COVID-secure. In England (excluding areas of extended local lockdowns) from July 6th there has been some relaxation on restrictions for those shielding. Please see our Q&A document on Coronavirus for more information about Employees returning to work and on shielding.

The Welsh Government have issued guidance to people at increased risk from coronavirus. This guidance can be found here. In addition they have also issued updated guidance for shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from coronavirus.

For those workers who are clinically vulnerable they should work from home if this is possible but if this is not possible and there are no other types of leave available, then you should offer them the option of the safest available on-site role. Ideally this would be in a role that is at least 2m away from other workers. If you cannot maintain social distancing, then you must carefully consider whether any of the roles that could be done involve an acceptable level of risk. You must consult with any worker who is identified as being higher risk and ensure that you take their views and any concerns that they have into account.

Nothing in the new guidance on working safely during coronavirus has altered the position regarding self-isolating. Those individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19 and those who live in the same household or are in a support bubble with someone who has symptoms should stay at home, as should those who have been notified by the NHS that they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Effective from 30th July 2020 the self-isolation period has been extended to 10 days for those in the community who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or a positive test result.

Information on the symptoms of Coronavirus has recently been updated by the Government and the current guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection#contents.THis.

From 8 June 2020 those who arrive into the UK from an international destination (unless they are exempt or are arriving from one of the countries with travel corridor exemption from 10 July 2020 onwards) will also need to self-isolate. For more details on this please see ‘Will any of my existing or new workers have to self-isolate when they arrive or return to the UK?’ in our Coronavirus Q&A.

Please also see our Q&As on Coronavirus for more detailed  information about the quarantine requirements and the travel corridor exemptions: https://www.nfuemploymentservice.com/news/coronavirus-qa-what-you-need-to-know.

Please see ‘What if your employee refuses to come to work because they are fearful of catching the coronavirus?’ in our Coronavirus Q&A - What you need to know webpage.


If an employee is unwell at work and displays symptoms of the coronavirus they should be sent home immediately and told to use the NHS Online Coronavirus service: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ for further advice. The NHS 111 service should only be used where support is not available online. Try to avoid them in coming into contact with others in the workplace and to avoid touching anything if they can and to use a separate bathroom to the rest of those who may be in the same workplace.

If a member of staff has helped the employee who is unwell, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. You should remind them to wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell with symptoms consistent with coronavirus.

If an employee or worker has been diagnosed as having coronavirus (COVID-19) and there is reasonable evidence that it was caused by exposure at work, it must be reported as a case of disease in accordance with Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). More information is available here.

The Government has updated the sector specific guides to include information on what to do if there is a COVID-19 outbreak within your workplace.

Currently there is no guidance advising that you should automatically close the workplace where an employee has attended the workplace and is suspected or known to have the coronavirus.

Employers are advised to follow cleaning guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-list-of-guidance#guidance-for-non-clinical-settings

If there is more than one case of COVID-19 associated with a workplace, employers should contact their local health protection team to report the suspected outbreak.

The heath protection team will undertake a risk assessment, provide public health advice, and where necessary, establish a multi-agency incident management team to manage the outbreak. Details of how you can find your local health protection team are here.

Unless any of the employee’s colleagues have been advised by the NHS Test and Trace or Test, Trace, Protect service to self-isolate, they should continue working but they:

  • must avoid individuals who are at high-risk of contracting COVID-19, for example, because they have pre-existing medical conditions, such as respiratory issues
  • must take extra care in practising social distancing and good hygiene and in watching out for symptoms

If they are then later advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace or Test, Trace, Protect, they should follow the advice given to them.

The Government have produced a new framework setting out how national and local partners will work with the public at a local level to prevent, contain and manage outbreaks. This national framework will support local decision-makers by clarifying their responsibilities and empowering them to take preventative action and make strong decisions locally, supported by mechanisms that safeguard key national assets and interests.

For more information please see What to do if your employee becomes unwell at work or has coronavirus? which can be found in our Coronavirus Q&A – What you need to know webpage.

The Government have issued Guidance on Covid-19 early outbreak management This Guidance applies to England. The Guidance outlines key steps to take to help identify, report and respond to a potential COVID-19 outbreak.

If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 within the organisation then you should go to the reporting an outbreak resource site. This site run by Public Health England (PHE) contains information and resources to assist in managing outbreaks. You can subscribe to updates which will ensure you are aware of any changes that are made to the advice on the site.

The site contains ‘Action Cards’  which provide specific COVID-19 Early management information for particular locations. At present Action Cars have been produced for:

  • Small and large Gathering Workplaces Action Cards –covering:
    • Entertainment and holiday resorts,
    • Places of Worship
    • Tourist Attractions
  • Residential Workplaces Action Cards – amongst other things these include:
    • Campsites and Caravan parks,
    • Hotels and other guest accommodation
  • Workplace Action Cards –  These Action Cards cover:
    •  Consumer Workplaces (e.g. shops and branches)
    • Food and Drink (e.g. Restaurants, Pubs and cafes)
    • Industrial Workplaces (e.g. manufacturing of food and other large processing plants, plus construction and outdoor work)
    • Recreation and Leisure

The action cards are designed to be downloaded or printed so that they can be readily accessed if needed. The Government is likely to add further Action Cards in due course. The back of the cards list information that PHE may request from you if you contact them to report an outbreak. PHE will require information about your organisation and about the cases. This may include:

  • Contact details of the people affected
  • When the individuals became unwell
  • When they were last present in the work environment
  • Nature of the roles/job undertaken by any staff affected
  • Known links between the individuals(s) with COVID-19 (in and out of work)
  • Number of people with which the individual(s) had close contact
  • Nature of the environment (e.g. site layout or nature of the building)
  • Details of control measures
  • Details of contact with any other agencies (e.g. HSE, Local Authority and bodies relevant to your business type)

The action cards detail additional actions that may need to be put in place such as:

  • Enhanced hygiene, handwashing and Cleaning regimes
  • Use of PPE
  • Enhanced testing and tracing
  • Increased staff awareness of, and adherence to preventative measures
  • Additional measures to limit access to the site, or temporary closure of it.

Each action card also has links websites containing sector specific information.

Please see What happens if any of my workers are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace or Test, Trace, Protect service? and Are my workers and I entitled to be tested for coronavirus (COVID-19)? In our Coronavirus Q&A – what you need to know webpage for more information

Guidance from the Government about the NHS Test and Trace Services within the workplace can be found here.

The Welsh Government have produced a Test, trace, protect: process summary which outlies what you need to do to help contact tracing control the spread of coronavirus. There is also an info-graphic to explain the process which is available in numerous languages; details can be found here.

As part of the process of easing lockdown certain businesses that can now open or will soon be able to do so, are being asked to take contact details of their customers and visitors so that they can be traced by the test and trace services if they need to do so. You should check that all of your staff contact details are up to date if this is not something that is done on a regular basis.

At present there is no legal obligation to take and retain this information, but workplaces are being strongly encouraged to do so and the sector specific Government Guidance has been updated to reflect this. More detail on this from the government can be found here.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has produced a 5-step guide to collecting customers’ and visitors’ personal information, to support the various contact tracing schemes in the UK although presently the guidance only applies to England.

A - Ask for only what’s needed

You should only ask people for the specific information that has been set out in government guidance. This may include things like their name, contact details and time of arrival for example.

You should not ask people to prove their details with identity verification, unless this is a standard practice for your business, eg. ID checks for age verification in pubs.

B - Be transparent with customers

You should be clear, open and honest with people about what you are doing with their personal information. Tell them why you need it and what you’ll do with it. You could do this by displaying a notice in your premises, including it on your website or even just telling people.

If you already collect customer data for bookings, you should make it clear that their personal data may also be used for contact tracing purposes.

C - Carefully store the data

You must look after the personal data you collect. That means keeping it secure on a device if you’re collecting the records digitally or, for paper records, keeping the information locked away.

The ICO has guidance on simple security measures you can take here.

D - Don’t use it for other purposes

You cannot use the personal information that you collect for contact tracing for other purposes, such as direct marketing, profiling or data analytics.

E - Erase it in line with government guidance

You should not keep the personal data for longer than the government guidelines specify. It’s important that you dispose of the data securely to reduce the risk of someone else accessing the data. Shred paper documents and permanently delete digital files from your recycle bin or back-up cloud storage, for example.

The ICO has also produced a specific FAQ page which can be found here and which gives detailed information for organisations and small businesses that are asked by government to collect and retain customer and visitor information, for a limited time period, for the purposes of a COVID-19 contact tracing scheme.

The Welsh Government have issued Guidance on the keeping of records of staff, customers and visitors. The Guidance can be found here. The guidance advises that businesses falling in one of the following sectors should collect details and maintain records of staff, customers and visitors to your premises:

  • Hospitality, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes.
  • Tourism and leisure, including theme parks, museums and cinemas.
  • Close contact services including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers.
  • Facilities provided by local authorities, such as libraries and leisure centres

This guidance applies to any establishment that falls within these sectors and provides an on-site service or event that takes place on the premises. This guidance applies to indoor and outdoor venues, regardless of how large or small the venue is. However, this guidance does not apply where services are taken off-site immediately.

The Welsh Government have confirmed that whilst the keeping of these records is not a legal requirement under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020, it is strongly advised that consideration is given to following the advice set out in their Guidance to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.

It should also be noted that in Wales, the Welsh government have decided to introduce a legal duty with regard to social distancing which will apply to any workplace, including homes, where work and repairs are being undertaken and outdoor spaces. The announcement made on 23 June by the Prime Minister introducing the minimum ‘one meter plus’ requirement from 4th July 2020 only applies to England and therefore does not change anything in Wales.  These regulations mean that all businesses will have to take all reasonable measures to ensure the 2 metre rule is maintained between people on their premises whenever work is being carried out.

The Welsh Government have announced that changes to the 2m physical distancing duty have come into force and have written an open letter to retailers concerning this which can be found here.

The new 2m regulation has consequences for premises, including shops. The Welsh Government has written to retailers in Wales recognising there are some occasions when it is not always possible to maintain 2m and set out additional measures businesses need to put in place to reduce the risk of coronavirus.

The guidance on this, which has been updated, also recognises that there are some workplace settings in which this distance may not be possible to maintain all of the time and in this situation, it makes clear that other measures should be considered e.g. minimising levels of interaction; physical barriers, improved hygiene, hygiene reminders, hand washing after close contact with others and ensuring those with symptoms are not present on the premises.

The Guidance confirms that all reasonable measures must be taken to maintain 2 metre distancing on premises or while anyone is working.

Next, other reasonable measures must be taken to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus. The main objective here is to reduce close face to face interaction and to enhance hygiene. These may be required in additionto maintaining physical distancing (for example though more frequent cleaning of premises) or instead of physical distancing (for example by using screens when close interaction between people is inevitable).

What other measures are reasonable required depends on the extent to which 2 metre physical distancing can be maintained. Where it can, little more is likely to be needed as long as hygiene standards are maintained. Where it can’t more will be needed. Much of what is required is an alternative to maintaining a 2 metre distance.

Finally, information should be provided about how to minimise risk of exposure to coronavirus on premises.

Enforcement where all reasonable measures have not been taken will either entail a fixed penalty of £60 (this reduces to £30 if paid within 14 days but is doubled to £120 for a second a subsequent breach) or if charged and convicted, payment of a fine. The Welsh Government also have their own advice for businesses in Wales: https://gov.wales/business-and-employers-coronavirus and additional resources can also be found here.

The Welsh Government have also produced a list of Frequently Asked Questions in relation to COVID-19 which sets out what you and businesses can and cannot do during the outbreak and what happens if you break these new laws.

The Welsh Government have produced certain sector specific guidance. The Guidance can be found here. In addition to the workplace sector guidance that can be found on the above link there is also information about guidance for a phased return to working in other sectors.

The Welsh Government have issued guidance for the tourism and hospitality business relating to phased re-opening.

The Welsh Government have also produced guidance relating to coronavirus for holiday accommodation businesses on reopening.

The Welsh Government has issued COVID-19 guidance for meat and food processing plants.

As part of their guidance for keeping ‘Wales safe at work’, the Welsh government have also introduced a 5 step key principles for workplaces in Wales, summarised below.

1. Care: Our health and well-being comes first

Everyone should approach the health, safety and well-being of each other in the workplace through this emergency with compassion and understanding.  Employers should look after their employees’ psychological and physical well-being. Employers can focus on reducing sources of stress for the workforce, both in terms of health anxiety and workload issues; with clear communications and assurance on the management of coronavirus (Covid-19) risk.

For those that cannot work from home, it is important for employers to establish an initial assessment on whether it is safe for staff to work and where relevant, signpost them to appropriate support organisations.

Employers should take extra care to safeguard vulnerable employees. They should record who is vulnerable and who has received a letter requiring them to shield.

2. Comply: The laws which keep us safe must be obeyed

Employers must continue to fulfil their legal duties under new and existing health and safety laws to maintain and protect the physical and mental health, safety and welfare of their employees and customers and visitors to their premises.

Where they cannot provide a safe working environment during the current emergency, they must determine what steps are needed to create one. If the employer still cannot provide a safe working environment, they must cease operations and if necessary, furlough staff.

Employees also have a legal responsibility to their employer and each other to follow instructions concerning safe working practices.

3. Involve: We all share the responsibility for safe work

Employers are required by law to protect their employees, and others, from harm. Employees also have a duty of care of their own safety and those of others. This is a shared responsibility.

Employers should maintain regular and meaningful engagement with their employees and with the recognised trade union or, if there isn’t one, a representative chosen by workers (including their health and safety committee, if this exists) during the coronavirus emergency.

4. Adapt: We will all need to change how we work

The consultation between employers and employees will help to identify the essential hygiene protocols, equipment and measures needed to keep the workplace safe from coronavirus (Covid-19) and limit its transmission. All work places are different, but there is a growing body of industry specific guidance and examples of good practice from work places which have not closed, available to draw upon.

Taking all reasonable measures to ensure that two metres distance is kept between all people in the workplace combined with robust hygiene measures is the aim.

5. Communicate: We must all understand what to do

It is essential that there is clear, precise and constant communication between employers, employees and other visitors to the workplace, about the reasonable and proportionate actions taken regarding workplace safety. It is important that everyone gets the same message and same instruction. Employers should ensure that communications are accessible for all staff.

Employees will need assurance before their return to work to that the employer is aware of any particular needs they have. All employees will need to be confident that the safety and well-being of the workforce and visitors is a key priority.

Safety messages should be circulated regularly to all employees using an agreed method which is accessible to all.  Posters and prominent visual aids and notices in the workplace will help reinforce these safety messages.

The Welsh Government have produced posters which can be found here on Safety and physical distancing for employers. These signs cover:

  • Clean workspaces
  • Symptoms
  • Keeping your distance
  • Hygiene
  • Wearing of Face masks

The Government has urged workers to help control coronavirus and travel safely by walking and cycling, if they can but where this is not possible, to use public transport or drive.  When using public transport its recommended trying to avoid travel at traditional ‘peak times’ or ‘rush hours’,or to get off a stop early if it’s less busy, or walk for more of your journey where possible . In view of this you may have to look at options such as staggering shifts as a way of assisting employees who may find it difficult or longer to travel to work.

Government guidance has also encouraged people to walk, run or cycle to work. You need to consider what the impact would be on your facilities if workers were to do this. The Government has produced an infographic Guidance poster relating to travel arrangements.

From 8 June 2020 new rules require all new international arrivals to self-isolate for a period of 14 days, unless they are on a shortlist of exemptions or are arriving from one of the countries with travel corridor exemption from 10 July 2020 onwards. The Government has stated that Countries can be taken off or added to the exempt list at any time. It is important that you therefore regularly check the Government Guidance on Coronavirus: Travel Corridors. It is possible to sign up to receive updates from the Government as to changes that are made, this will ensure that you are in receipt of any updated information.

Please see our Q&As on Coronavirus for more detailed  information about the quarantine requirements and the travel corridor exemptions: https://www.nfuemploymentservice.com/news/coronavirus-qa-what-you-need-to-know/.

Both visitors and UK residents will still need to complete a passenger locator form before their arrival to any country in the UK and this must be presented on arrival to the UK even where there is no need to self-isolate.

For any new worker engaged in the business you must follow your normal new starter procedures which must include risk assessments and the appropriate health and safety training.

The Government has produced advice for both seasonal agricultural workers coming to England to work on farms, and for their employers. This Government Guidance can be found here: Coming to the UK for seasonal agricultural work on English farms - GOV.UK This Guidance applies to England only  however the Welsh Government have advised seasonal agricultural workers and their employers to follow the same guidance.

Translations of the Government Guidance for Seasonal workers in edible horticulture have been published in Russian, Ukrainian, Belarussian, Bulgarian, Polish and Romanian.

The rules on self-isolation for some agricultural seasonal workers are different from those for other international travellers to the UK because of the importance of the work for food supply. The Government has provided an exemption for both the English and Welsh borders where there is no relevant travel corridor to include seasonal agricultural workers who have an offer of employment for seasonal work to carry out specific activities in edible horticulture on a named farm. Details on this exemption is available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-from-uk-border-rules/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-from-uk-border-rules#seasonal-agricultural-workers-who-have-an-offer-of-employment-for-seasonal-work-to-carry-out-specific-activities-in-edible-horticulture-on-a-named-farm. The Welsh Government have introduced the same rules which apply to all international arrivals as there are currently no travel corridors in place and can be found here: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19-travellers-exempt-welsh-border-rules-html

They can start work immediately but they must self-isolate on the farm for the first 14 days and must live on the farm. They are allowed to mix with fellow workers but can only leave the farm for very limited purposes. Ifthe worker is travelling from an exempt country they will not need to self isolate for 14 days.

There is guidance available for those who are self-isolating when they have travelled to the UK. However, anybody who is exempt will still need to follow the same rules on social distancing and staying at home where possible. If any of these workers develop symptoms of coronavirus or live with a person who has developed symptoms of coronavirus, they should follow the guidance on self-isolating. 

Anybody intending to rely on the exemption will need to provide in advance their contact details including where they are staying. It is important therefore, that you ensure you have given the full and correct address of the farm to the worker prior to their arrival in the UK.

They will also need documentary evidence to prove they have travelled to the UK to carry out seasonal agricultural work at your farm. You will, therefore, need to ensure that you have provided this either by letter or email prior to the start of their journey.

When the worker arrives in the UK they must go straight to the farm and somebody from the farm should collect them from the airport, port or station wherever possible.

Within 2 hours of workers arriving at the farm, you should give them:

You should ask workers to give written confirmation that they have received and understood this information. It is important to ensure that this information is in a language that is understood by the workers, you must consider whether documents may need to be translated. You must also ensure that all health and safety instructions are clearly communicated, and you must ensure that information is available in different languages if this is necessary to ensure the safety of your workers.

For the first 14 days, you should put workers into groups and strictly limit contact with others outside of those groups.

The size of these groups will depend on the practicalities of self-isolating groups of workers on your farm should they subsequently develop disease. The group should be made up of workers arriving on the farm within 24 hours of each other.

When working, ensure that your operations follow:

If anyone in the group develops coronavirus symptoms, follow guidance on what to do if an individual gets coronavirus symptoms.

After 14 days of arrival, if no-one in the group tests positive or has any coronavirus symptoms, or 14 days after the group is isolated due to a positive test, employers should ensure that workers are aware of:

NFU Employment Service members have access to template letters which can be downloaded and used to confirm employment details for seasonal workers in edible horticulture arriving from the EU.

There are 2 versions available; a template letter for farms based in England and a template letter for farms based in Wales.

These templates can be accessed here: https://www.nfuemploymentservice.com/members/template-documents

NFU Employment Service members have access to template letters which can be downloaded and used to confirm employment details for seasonal workers in edible horticulture arriving from the EU. There are 2 versions available; click here for the template letter for farms based in England and here for farms based in Wales.

The Government has also produced guidance for food businesses which is intended for all workplaces involved in the manufacturing, processing, warehousing, picking, packaging, retailing and service of food on Coronavirus which can be found here: Guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19) - GOV.UK. There is also an  easy to translate Guide that the Government have issued which they advise can be translated using online tools for worker’s whose first language is not English. This Guide can be found here.

As part of the guidance there is reference to the Food Standards Agency (FSA)  guide:  Food Handlers: Fitness to Work Regulatory Guidance and Best Practice Advice For Food Business Operators. Within this in annex 3 there is a Questionnaire - Pre-employment / Visitor / Returning from Abroad for employers to use to help establish the health status of new staff, visitors, staff returning from abroad and new workers from abroad. Although the questionnaire is not COVID-19 specific it may be possible to adapt the questionnaire to cover the current pandemic, but in any case of absence COVID-19 related or not, it would be best practice to use something like this.

The guidance issued by the FSA states it is aimed at all food business operators except primary producers, but that primary producers can use it as best practice advice and Enforcement Officers will also find it useful.

Food businesses are legally required to comply with all other statutory and regulatory requirements that apply to their business in addition to following the Covid -19 Guidance referred to above.

Agricultural employers need to follow this guidance in addition to any existing legal requirement (including health and safety legislation) which is applicable.

The HSE have produced guidance to help businesses become COVID-secure. The information is on their website which can be found here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/working-safely-during-coronavirus-outbreak.htm.

The Government have issued guidance of a general nature to those who manage beaches, the countryside and coastal areas. The guidance recognises that as restrictions are lifted those areas may see an increase in visitor numbers. The guidance, which relates to England only, can be found here.

The Government have provided general Guidance for farmers, landowners and rural businesses.

The Welsh Government has also provided workplace Guidance for employers and employees on keeping safe during the coronavirus pandemic. This guidance can be found here: Keep Wales safe at work | GOV.WALES.

It is important that you continue to monitor both the situation within your workplace and additionally check regularly for any updated Government Guidance to ensure that you are referring to the latest information that is available.  Risk assessments should be considered ‘live’ documents and if necessary be amended to reflect any changes in circumstances.

It is important to ensure that to continue to meet your health and safety obligations at all times and ensure that your workers also continue to follow the measures that you have put in place to ensure their safety and welfare.