'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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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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England

On Monday 04 January 2021, the Government announced that England would move into Alert Level 5 indefinitely meaning you should not leave your home without a ‘reasonable excuse’ which includes attending work.

Businesses which can remain open include:

  • Essential retail such as food shops, supermarkets, garden centres, building merchants and suppliers of building products
  • Non-essential retail shops can remain open for click-and-collect services
  • Market stalls selling essential retail
  • Auction houses for livestock or agricultural equipment
  • Hospitality venues such as cafes, restaurants and pubs may remain open for click-and-collect or drive through until 11pm or can continue to offer delivery services
  • Accommodation such as hotels and guesthouses may remain open in specific circumstances such as where they act as someone’s main residence or to support the homeless
  • Animal rescue centres, boarding facilities and animal groomers for animal welfare purposes
  • Agricultural supplies shops
  • Outdoor playground
  • Outdoor parts of botanical gardens and heritage sites for exercise

The full guidance related to Alert Level 5 can be found HERE.

Wales

On 18 December 2020, the Welsh Government announced that Wales would move into Alert Level 4, this means the following:

  • Do not meet with people outside of your household or support bubble either outside or indoors
  • Everyone should follow social distancing rules with people they do not live with or who are not in their support bubble for example within the workplace
  • The following must be closed:
    • Indoor and outdoor visitor attractions
    • Holiday accommodation (only open if essential for example for work reasons)
    • Hospitality (except for takeaway and delivery)
    • Non-essential retail (except for click and collect services)

Full guidance can be found on the Welsh Government website: HERE

England

The Government guidance remains that anyone who can work from home effectively must continue to do so.  If your employees cannot carry out their role effectively from home and your business does not fall into the list of business closures, then employees can continue to attend the workplace as long as it is Covid Secure. The only exception is the extremely clinically vulnerable who should not attend the workplace currently.

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.

Wales

In Wales all workplaces are legally required to take reasonable steps to comply with the physical distancing duty which helps to protect workers and the public from the threat  of coronavirus. The Welsh Government Guidance is to work from home if you can.

Guidance issued by the Welsh Government on Staying safe at work can be found here.

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.

The HSE has issued guidance on Social distancing to make your workplace COVID-secure. This can be accessed here. The HSE site confirms that In the UK some rules about social distancing may be different in each of the devolved nations. However, HSE regulates in all of these countries. You should check the public health guidance for the country you are in and it includes links to the respective Countries’ Guidance.

From 28 September 2020, the COVID-secure guidance became a legal requirement and businesses who fail to comply are subject to fines of up to £10,000. Some of the new measures include:

  • Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where it is legally required to do so
  • Any Employer who knowingly requires or encourages someone who is required to self isolate to come into work will be committing a criminal offence and potentially liable for a fine of up to £10,000.

England

  • 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.

All 14 versions of the guidance can be found here.

Information contained within all  the guides is being regularly 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
  • 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

From 05 November, legal limits have been imposed on meeting with others socially whether indoors or outdoors. These limits do not apply to workplaces, alongside other exemptions. Details of the Government Guidance can be found here. Social distancing guidelines would still apply to any workplace gatherings.

Please see WHAT IMPLICTIONS DOES THE SO CALLED “RULE OF 6” HAVE FOR MY BUSINESS? for details of the restriction limiting social gatherings to a maximum of 6 people.

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

Most recently the Government has added ‘priority actions’ which detail 7 steps that should be taken to protect yourself, your staff and your customers during coronavirus. to the start of many of the guides.

The seven ‘priority actions’

  1. Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. Share it with all your staff.
  2. Clean more often. Increase how often you clean surfaces, especially those that are being touched a lot. Ask your staff, customers, visitors or contractors to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.
  3. Ask your customers or visitors to wear face coverings where required to do so by law. That is especially important if your customers or visitors are likely to be around people they do not normally meet. Some exemptions apply. Check when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own.
  4. Make sure everyone is social distancing. Make it easy for everyone to do so by putting up signs or introducing a one-way system that your staff and visitors can follow.
  5. Increase ventilation by keeping doors and windows open where possible and running ventilation systems at all times.
  6. Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all staff, customers, visitors and contractors for 21 days. From 18 September, this will be enforced in law. Some exemptions apply. Check ‘Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace’ for details.
  7. Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away. If a staff member (or someone in their household) or a visitor has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating.

Each of the sector guides then go on to detail further actions relevant to each of those sectors that should also be taken. All of the updated sector guides can be found here.

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

SECTOR SPECIFIC GUIDANCE

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.

COVID-19 SECURE GUIDANCE AND 5 STEPS TO WORKING SAFELY

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.

From 4 July 2020 further measures were introducedin 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.

The Government had previously issued Guidance entitled ‘ 5 steps to working safely’. This Guidance has now been withdrawn (from 9th September) These steps were purely a summary of practical actions and were not a substitute for following all of the steps and objectives outlined in detail in the detailed sector guides.

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. For further information see ‘How do I demonstrate to my employees that I have followed Government Guidance?’
 

Wales

The Welsh government have introduced 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. 

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

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 addition to 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

Business Wales have guidance on Keep Wales Safe at Work.

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.

Sector specific Guidance

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.

Guidance for close contact services can be found here.

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.

For workplaces in Wales a copy of the notice which can be displayed to show that an Employer has taken the necessary steps to make their business COVID secure can be found within the sector specific Guidance issued by the Welsh Government.

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

From 14th September legal limits were imposed on the maximum number of people that can meet in a social group at any one time, whether indoors or outdoors. These limits do not apply to workplaces, alongside other exemptions.

Please see WHAT IMPLICTIONS DOES THE SO CALLED “RULE OF 6” HAVE FOR MY BUSINESS? for details of the restriction limiting social gatherings to a maximum of 6 people.

No, this guidance does not supersede any existing 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.

From September 28th businesses are now required by law to ensure that their businesses are operating in a COVID-secure manner. Some of the Guidance issued is non-statutory guidance to take into account when complying with existing obligations but other measures introduced create a legal duty and must be complied with or businesses run the risk of facing fines for breaches of COVID-secure arrangements. 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:

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.

Please see What is the position on face masks or face coverings and wearing them in the workplace?  for the legal position concerning face coverings.

England

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

Wales

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

Guidance has also been provided on risk assessments for wedding venues and events.

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.

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 hereCoronavirus COVID-19 poster for farm workplaces | AHDB

England

The notice can be found on the Government Website or by following this link downloadable noticehttps://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/897765/staying-covid-19-secure-2020.pdf  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. .

Wales

For workplaces in Wales a copy of the applicable notice can be found within the sector specific Guidance issued by the Welsh Government.

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

General Guidance from Public Health England on how to help reducing the transmission of COVIC-19 can be found here.

The Health and Safety Executive has issued updated guidance about Cleaning, hygiene and handwashing to make your workplace COVID-secure. This information can be found here.

At the start of lockdown, an issue that was raised regarding workforce was around the apparent need to close workplace canteens, creating a risk that workers might leave their workplaces and go to food shops to buy food, with a greater potential to spread the virus. Lobbying on this front has generated a refinement of the government’s position. The guidance at the time stated: 

“Where there are no practical alternatives, other workplace canteens can remain open to provide food for their staff and/or provide a space for breaks. However, where possible, staff should be encouraged to bring their own food, and distributors should move to takeaway. Measures should be taken to minimise the number of people in the canteen at any one given time, for example by using a rota.”

Now that some of the restrictions of lockdown have been lifted, employers should still take account of this guidance when considering what facilities they are able to offer to their employees. Proper precautions will be essential as indicated to ensure that the risk of spreading COVID-19 is properly managed.

Wales

Workplace canteens are exempt from the requirements for table service only, but any food or drink served must be eaten sitting down.

Face coverings are not classed as personal protective equipment (PPE) as they are generally not manufactured to a recognised standard and not CE marked and do not provide a proven level of protection for work risks such as dust and spray See Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance: Face coverings and face masks at work during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Where 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.

Workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Supplies of PPE, including face masks, must continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace.

The BEIS Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance also draws a distinction between PPE, including face masks, and face coverings.

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 will be required by law and some situations where although it may not be a legal requirement 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 are required to or choose to wear a face covering, normal policies relating to occupational workwear and PPE will continue to apply.

In situations where the employee is legally required to wear a face covering, employers should ensure that their staff are aware of these requirements, and the limited exceptions to them. In these specific circumstances, while the primary responsibility lies with the staff member, who can ultimately be subject to a fine, employers should also make every effort to ensure that all staff in areas open to the public comply with the law.

Most people will have their own face covering, given that they will need to wear one outside work in certain situations. However, employers may wish to consider:

  • providing members of staff with face coverings, eg if it wants them all to wear face coverings that are branded, or the same colour or description, or to make sure that they are hygienic
  • having a stock of disposable face coverings available for staff use, in case a member of staff eg loses or breaks their face covering, or forgets to wash a reusable face covering

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.

Please also see ‘What if my employees unreasonably refuse to wear a face covering whilst at work?’ in our Coronavirus Q&A.

England

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:

  • Customers using public transport,transport hubs, private hire vehicles and taxis. Staff working on public transport and taxi drivers will continue to be advised to wear face coverings.
  • Premises providing hospitality (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes), except when seated at a table to eat or drink – this requirement came in on September 24. It is subject to certain exceptions which can be found here. This requirement applies to both customers and staff.
  • 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
  • Close contact services – it is now a legal requirement that face coverings and visors are worn by staff.

Please see the Government Guidance for the full list.

From 24 September 2020, it is compulsory for retail, leisure and hospitality staff to wear a face covering in areas that are open to the public and where they come or are likely to come within contact of a member of the public. This includes shops, supermarkets, bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes, banks, and the public areas of hotels and hostels. Government Guidance confirms that If these businesses have taken steps in line with Health and Safety Executive guidance for COVID-19 secure workplaces to create a physical barrier between workers and members of the public then staff behind the barrier will not be required to wear a face covering.

Employees who do not comply are liable to a fine of £200 unless they have reasonable excuse for not wearing a face covering. Reasons include disability, or where it would cause severe distress, for a full list of the reasons see here. Fines for repeat offenders rise to a maximum of £6,400.

Workers in other types of settings where the public must wear a face covering, such as public transport are exempt from having to wear a face covering, although employers may consider their use where appropriate and where other mitigations are not in place, in line with COVID-secure guidelines.

Please check sector specific guidance relating to face coverings to see if this applies to you. Businesses are also subject to legal obligations to protect their staff under existing legislation. This includes taking appropriate steps to provide a safe working environment, which may include providing face coverings where appropriate, alongside other mitigation such as Perspex screens to separate workers from the public.

Please see the HSE’s guidance for creating a COVID secure workplace for more details.

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 employers should also follow the workplace specific guidance that has been issued. The Guidance  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. The Government have produced exemption card templates for those who wish to have one but they are not legally required to carry one.  It is not necessary to have advice or written confirmation from a medical professional about the reason for not wearing a face covering.

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.

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

Wales

The Welsh Government have issued Guidance for the public on Face Coverings. This guidance provided information on when you are legally required to wear a face covering and how and using a face covering  protects those around you. The guidance can be found here Face coverings: frequently asked questions | GOV.WALES The guidance also provides examples of situations or circumstances that may amount to a reasonable excuse for not wearing a face covering. Individuals who are exempt from wearing face coverings are not required to carry any evidence of this but may wish to carry an exemption card that has been produced.

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.

From 14 September 2020 The Welsh Government have made it compulsory to wear face coverings in shops and other indoor public spaces. This requirement covers both customers and staff who are working in those premises. The requirement does not apply to places where food or drink is sold but only if the food or drink is being served for consumption on the premises.

Employers will also be required to mandate the use of face coverings in other indoor workplaces where social distancing cannot be maintained, unless there are strong reasons not to. You may therefore find you are required to wear a face covering at work even in places which are not open to the public. The Welsh Government have produced guidance for employers and managers of premises on face coverings supplementing the change in law. That guidance can be found here. Three layer face coverings will become compulsory for everyone travelling on public transport Wales

Three-layer face coverings will become compulsory for everyone travelling on public transport in Wales from Monday July 27.

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

In Wales it is mandatory to wear three-layer face coverings on public transport. This requirement also covers taxis and other situations where 2m social distancing was not possible. Guidance issued by the Welsh Government for operators of public transport can be found here.

In Wales the Guidance issued to hospitality and retail staff states that in the context of the requirements imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic a visor or face shield is not a face covering. The effectiveness of visors and face shields is unknown at present. They are worn in clinical/care giving settings to protect against large droplet exposure, including by inoculation through the eyes, but when worn outside these settings there is no evidence that face shields/visors protect the wearer or are an effective source control for either larger droplets or small aerosols.

Shielding was originally put into place in March 2020 to protect those who are extremely clinically vulnerable. The shielding guidance was lifted in both England and Wales in the summer however due to the new enhanced measures the shielding guidelines have been reintroduced as of 05 January 2021.

Any employee who is considered extremely clinically vulnerable should not attend the workplace – they will usually receive a letter from the NHS or their GP to confirm if they fall into this category. If possible, you should enable them to work from home – however if this is not possible please refer to our Q+A document on Coronavirus for detailed guidance on alternative options.

The English guidance on shielding can be found HERE and the Welsh guidance on shielding can be found HERE.

This will depend on the reason for their isolation. On 18 December 2020, the Government reduced the standard isolation period to 10 days meaning employees will need to isolate for at least 10 days in the following circumstances:

  • Someone your employees lives with has symptoms of Coronavirus or has tested positive for Coronavirus
  • Someone your employee is in a support bubble and has been in close contact with has symptoms of Coronavirus or has tested positive for Coronavirus
  • Your employee has been told to isolate by the NHS Test and Trace system due to coming into to contact with someone who has tested positive
  • Your employee has returned from a country that is not on the travel corridor list

If an employee has tested positive or has symptoms of Coronavirus, they will need to isolate for a minimum of 10 days but potentially longer if their symptoms persist.

Please see our Q&As on Coronavirus for more information about the legal requirement to self isolate, what to pay employees if they are required to self-isolate and further guidance on employees travelling abroad: https://www.nfuonline.com/news/coronavirus-updates-and-advice/coronavirus-news/coronavirus-advice-for-employers-from-the-nfus-specialist-advice-team/

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 Coronavirus Q&A - What you need to know webpage.

Please also see 'What guidance is there for action to take if there is confirmed coronavirus cases within our organisation?'. 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 in England are here, and in Wales 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.

England

The Government have issued Guidance on Covid-19 early outbreak management 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
  • Industrial Workplace Action Cards – These include:
    • Construction and outdoor work
    • Manufacturing of food and other large processing plants
    • Working in factories, plants warehouses and waste management and storage sites
  • Commercial Workplace Action Cards covering:
    • Contact centres, offices and operations rooms

New Action Cards are regularly added so it is important to regularly check the Public Health England website ‘Reporting an outbreak’ webpage.

The action cards are designed to be downloaded or printed so that they can be readily accessed if needed. 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.

Wales

Public Heath Wales website contains information on Coronavirus and provides a link to Healthy Working Wales which has produced information for Employers and Employees. The Coronavirus control plan for Wales provides details of how incident and outbreaks will be managed.

The NHS Test and Trace service is for those who display symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been advised to take a test by a medical practitioner or public service. Employers wishing to provide a test to staff must not advise individuals without symptoms to get a test from the limited supply offered by the NHS, but may offer alternative private provision, in accordance with the latest guidance. If you are contemplating arranging your own testing for your employees, whether they have symptoms or not, you are strongly advised to read and follow all the published guidance.

The guidance currently applies to England only but there will be equivalent guidance for Wales published in due course.

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.

England

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

Wales

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, were being asked to take contact details of their staff, 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.

England

From 18 September premises and venues in England have been will be legally required to obtain contact information in order to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

The updated Government guidance can be found here.

The Government have produced Guidance on NHS Track and Trace within the workplace. The guidance confirms that if businesses follow It is critical that employers take steps to keep workers and visitors safe. By following the 5 steps for working safely, along with sector-specific guidance, employers can reduce the risk of co-workers having to self-isolate if a member of staff tests positive for COVID-19.

NHS Test and Trace does not change existing guidance that employees should work from home wherever possible.

The guidance also sets out how organisations can register for an official NHS QR code and obtain an official NHS QR poster. This allows users to ‘check in’ using their smartphone to scan the QR Code. In England people who ‘check in’ do not have to provide their contact details as part of the organisations staff, customer and visitor log.

Designated venues are legally required to display an official NHS QR code poster to enable customers and visitors to scan the NHS QR code when they arrive by using the NHS COVID-19 app. The information stays on the user’s phone. As you are likely to already have a record of your employees and staff, they do not need to scan the NHS QR code. However, staff can scan the QR code, in addition, if they wish.

Employers should facilitate and support employee use of the app within their workplaces wherever possible, while recognising that the app is not mandatory.

The contact tracing element of the app logs the amount of time individuals spend near other app users, and the distance between them, so it can alert an individual if they have been close to someone who later tests positive for COVID-19 – even if they are not known to each other.

The app will advise an individual to self-isolate if they have been in close contact with a confirmed case. It will also enable users to check symptoms, book a free test if needed and get their test results.

The app has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus, not people and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy.

The app does not hold personal information such as name, address or date of birth, and only requires the first half of a user’s postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed. No personal data is shared with the government or the NHS.

Businesses and venues that are not currently expected to maintain staff, customer and visitor logs are encouraged to display official NHS QR code posters if they have indoor areas where individuals are likely to congregate or sit-down in close contact. By displaying an official NHS QR code poster and encouraging people to use the NHS COVID-19 app, businesses will be helping to protect their customers, staff and themselves from the impact of the virus.

Please see Does my business need to register to obtain a QR code?

The Government Guidance provides details of what information should be collected, confirms that the details must be stored for 21 days and shared with NHS Test and Trace if requested. There are fixed penalties for those businesses who do not comply.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has produced a 5-step guide to Contact Tracing.  in the UK although presently the guidance only applies to England. The ICO is in the process of updating their Guidance to reflect the changes to the test and trace scheme from 18 September.

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

Wales

Whilst the Welsh Government have confirmed that obtaining and keeping of contact records is not set out as a specific legal requirement under the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Wales) Regulations 2020,  a business is required to take ‘reasonable measures’ to minimise the risk of exposure to, and spread of COVID 19 by, those who have been on the premises.  The Welsh Government has confirmed that collecting contact information from visitors to the premises and storing it for 21 days is a reasonable measure under these regulations. In view of the above businesses in Wales must ensure that contact records are taken and kept for the required duration in order to comply with the ‘reasonable measures’ requirement.

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.

Additional guidance for Employers can be found here.

Designated venues must display an official NHS QR code poster at their entrance, or at the point of service. It’s quick and simple to use for both businesses and users, and enables customers and visitors to scan the NHS QR code when they arrive by using the NHS COVID-19 app. In addition to having a QR Code organisations which must display a QR code must also have a system for individuals who do not have a smartphone or the NHS COVID-19 app to provide their contact details. The QR Code/NHS COVID-19 app is designed to run alongside manual contract tracings systems.

Establishments in the following sectors, whether indoor or outdoor venues or mobile settings, must request contact details from staff, customers and visitors, and display the official NHS QR code poster:

  • hospitality, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés
  • tourism and leisure, including hotels, museums, cinemas and amusement arcades
  • close contact services, including hairdressers, barbershops and tailors
  • facilities provided by local authorities, including community centres, libraries and village halls

A full list of organisations within scope in these sectors can be found here. The service is also available in Welsh

This requirement applies to any establishment that provides an on-site service and to any events that take place on its premises. It does not apply where services are taken off site immediately, for example, a food or drink outlet which only provides takeaways. If a business offers a mixture of a sit-in and takeaway service, contact information only needs to be collected for customers who are dining in.

Creating an NHS QR Code for your venue is done online and the website can be found here.

Businesses and venues that are not currently expected to maintain staff, customer and visitor logs are encouraged to display official NHS QR code posters if they have indoor areas where individuals are likely to congregate or sit-down in close contact. By displaying an official NHS QR code poster and encouraging people to use the NHS COVID-19 app, businesses will be helping to protect their customers, staff and themselves from the impact of the virus.

The NHS COVID-19 Support app website can be found here.

Due to the current enhanced restrictions within England and Wales, the ‘Rule of 6’ is no longer in place. Instead the guidelines are different within England and Wales as to who you can meet outside of your home. However, these do not impact workplace interactions and employees can still attend the workplace if it is still open and they cannot work from home.

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.

On 18 December 2020, the self-isolation period for international arrivals from a country not on the travel corridor list was reduced to 10 days. 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 for any changes. 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.

Furthermore, from 15 December, your employees will be able to pay for a Coronavirus test in order to reduce the 10-day isolation period. The test cannot be taken until 5 days from leaving the place not on the travel corridor list. This test must be through a private provider and NHS free testing should not be utilised for this purpose. Further guidance can be found HERE

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.

England

Details of Coronavirus Travel corridors for England can be found here.

Guidance has been produced on self-isolating after returning to the UK to help employers and employees. Additionally, Guidance setting out how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK has been produced.

Wales

Details of travellers exempt from Welsh Border rules can be found here.

Welsh Government Guidance on self-isolating when travelling to Wales can be found here.

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 10 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. If the worker is travelling from an exempt country they will not need to self isolate for 10 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 10 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 10 days of arrival, if no-one in the group tests positive or has any coronavirus symptoms, or 10 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; 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 provided general Guidance for farmers, landowners and rural businesses.

The HSE have issued Guidance concerning Drivers welfare at delivery and collection sites.

England

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.

Wales.

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

General Guidance from the Welsh Government on COVID-19 can be found here.