Plan B – Change to Covid-19 Guidance in England to curb Omicron variant

Covid-19 guidance in England is being brought in line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Rules on face masks have already been tightened, and Covid passes will be required to enter large venues from Wednesday 15th December. People are being asked to work from home where they can.

Boris Johnson said in a televised address on Sunday evening that the UK faces an "Omicron emergency", due to a potential "tidal wave" of cases of the new variant.

The Prime Minister has said that the booster jab campaign will be ramped up and boosters will be offered to everyone over 18 in England from this week.

Extra measures – which have been labelled ‘Plan B’ - were announced last week with concerns growing over the spread of Omicron in the UK.

This will undoubtedly be a worrying time for employers, as they face yet another change to restrictions.

Here are some hints and tips for employers:

  • Know the issues you're likely to face – there are more HR and legal issues than you will think.
  • Support your people – ensure managers have the tools they need to support their teams.
  • Office cleaning – ensure this continues daily and provide hand sanitisers.
  • Culture – you should be aiming for a culture of give and take.
  • Launch a pilot – consider trialling a small-scale pilot scheme. Gather feedback, evaluate and make changes as required.

Hybrid working - best of both worlds?

  • Consider how to manage client interactions/expectations when staff are in different locations. Plan team meetings to ensure they are run effectively when some staff are attending via video call and some in a meeting room.
  • Look at any lessons learnt from working from home during the pandemic (evidence) – what worked, and what didn’t?
  • Review any changes needed to the office set-up.
  • It is not a criminal offence to leave home to go to work but don't ignore government guidance when it comes out – and be prepared for the possibility of regional lockdowns.

In short…

  • Ensure the office is safe to return to
  • Do comply with the government's Covid-secure workplace safety guidance
  • Carry out a risk assessment
  • Implement measures to minimise risk
  • Publish risk assessments for staff to read
  • Consult with employees about workplace safety

Go here for the latest government guidance - https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

If you need any help with any of the issues covered in this article, please contact the IHRS team via email HRhelp@ihrsolutions.co.uk, call 01604 709509 or visit our website.  

About the author

Laura is a HR professional with 20 years’ experience with Financial Services, the majority of which has been within insurance. In her role with UKGI Group, Laura provides objective support to firms on employment law and HR issues. She uses her interpersonal skills and knowledge to work with firms to help them develop strong and resilient HR strategies and establish healthy organisational cultures. Laura’s clients receive personalised support with a real can-do approach.

Laura is an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). She holds a Diploma Professional Development Scheme.

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