Back to Work? Our advice for employers

Back to Work? Our advice for employers
11th May 2020 Jessica Turtle

11th May 2020

Understandably, everyone seems confused and worried about #StayAlert #BacktoWork.

So we thought it might be useful to share our experience of operations, particularly to help employers to take the right action and employees/volunteers to use this info to ask for protective measures.

This is serious! This pandemic is NOWHERE NEAR over in the UK.

It is is the employer’s legal and moral duty to make sure it is safe as possible, if they are going to require people to work in the workplace during a pandemic. Employment law hasn’t changed, as far as we know and that brings legally binding health and safety obligations via the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)

So, when Streets Kitchen and MoH committed to setting up a #HomelessTaskforce volunteer hub, even with the immense pressure of wanting to get going fully & with leads working round the clock it still took 2 WEEKS to get safety measures in place before our ops were launched.

#BacktoWork simply cannot and should not be done overnight.

Here are some of the things we have done to make our 8 weeks of frontline operations as safe as possible:

Consent and Insurance

First and foremost, you must be sure your staff or vols are fully consenting to the risk this brings to their lives and that they are confident in your ability to reduce risk as much as poss.
Then, you need to talk to your insurers & amend your Statement of Facts accordingly.

Risk and Planning

You need to risk assess the hell out of this. Take your lead from health professionals, not govt guidelines.
If possible, consult with people who have worked in emergency settings previously. We have a volunteer experienced in international disaster relief who was brilliant.

Practical measures

Do NOT bring anyone into work without being able to provide appropriate PPE.
Physically mark out social distancing work stations
Build a hot water station for hand-washing upon site entry.

Virus containment plans

Screen people prior to starting shift.
Have a supportive but rapid response plan in place for if someone presents with symptoms.
Cluster your teams so that a case of COVID-19 won’t bring the whole operation to a halt.

Adapt and refine

Once all this is in place, bring in a very small number of people and trial the systems. We did this for 7 days. Refine as necessary. Keep refining, improving and adapting as the situation changes. Only bring in a wider team when you are confident they can do their work safely.

Internal comms and care

Design a new online induction (re-induction?) which sets out safety measures, risk, safeguarding. People should complete this before coming in.
Hold a morning briefing every day to remind people of the safety measures, provide support and keep comms on organisational developments and the wider developments for #Covid19UK clear.
Finally, ensure you have decent mental health support in place for your team and check in regularly. This is a terrible, trauma laden time and it is the duty of organisations to take care of people.

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