Guest blog from SA Law Solicitors
While the announcement from Boris Johnson on 10 May gave an indication of the phased approach to ending the current lockdown period, the government has not yet announced the detail of its post-lockdown strategy to facilitate employees returning to work. However, with other European countries such as Germany already putting measures in place to help promote economic recovery, we expect a strategy to be published soon.
HEALTH AND SAFETY
One main issue that will hopefully be clarified will be the health and safety obligations of employers post-lockdown. Currently, employers risk not only a financial penalty from breach of their health and safety obligations, but also potential criminal proceedings for corporate manslaughter, if COVID-19 is transmitted in their workplace.
UMBRELLAS AND AGENCIES
This will be a significant problem for agency or umbrella companies who owe a duty of care to their employees (i.e. the agency staff) but have little to no control of their working environment. Agency and umbrella companies will need to carefully consider how to approach post-lockdown work and what they will require both from their staff and contracting companies so that they can ensure that they comply with these obligations. This may be through contract variations to ensure that both employees and contracting companies are complying with the latest public health guidance and are implementing measures that minimise the risk of infection, e.g. shift rotation, deep cleans or PPE.
Another factor that agency or umbrella companies may want to consider is testing their employees for COVID-19. Amazon is a prime example of this. Although there is not yet any specific guidance on this, it will currently be treated as if it were any other medical test. This means that employers will have to get permission from their employees to carry out such testing and have measures in place to ensure that test results remain anonymous. Although every procedure and potential measure has potential for flaws, agencies and umbrella companies should now be considering how to negate any liability for COVID-19 infection.
SA Law is a leading UK Solicitors Practice based in Hertfordshire and London salaw.com