Coronavirus advice on returning to work as non-essential retail confirmed to reopen from Monday 15 June

Date published: 13 June 2020


High street retailers selling non-essential goods will be able to reopen from Monday 15 June, following Covid-19 secure guidelines set out by the government.

Businesses will only be able to open once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become Covid-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.

This includes book shops, electronics retailers, tailors, photography studios, indoor markets, and shops selling clothes, shoes and toys.

Measures that shops should consider include:

  • storing returned items for 72 hours before putting them back out on the shop floor
  • placing protective coverings on large items touched by the public such as beds or sofas
  • frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines and betting terminals, for example

The vast majority of businesses will want to do everything possible to protect their staff and customers, but tough powers are in place to enforce action if they don’t, including fines and jail sentences of up to two years.

As people prepare to return to work, workplace expert, Acas, has updated its coronavirus guidance. Acas’ advice is for employers and their staff to have early discussions about any plans to return to work and try to come to an agreement.

These talks can take place with trade union or employee reps and health and safety reps, but all staff should be kept informed of plans and be able to feed into discussions.

It is a good idea to talk about:

  • when staff might return to the workplace where your plans allow;
  • how staff will travel to and from work;
  • how health and safety is being reviewed and managed, including sharing the latest risk assessment;
  • any planned adjustments to the workplace, for example additional hand washing facilities, staggering start and finish times to avoid overcrowding or floor markings to help people keep 2 metres apart; and
  • if there might be a phased return of the workforce, for example some staff returning before others.

Wherever possible, employers should speak to staff before making a decision or putting plans in writing. This can help staff understand and feel included in decisions.

 

Social distancing poster from Rochdale Council
Social distancing poster from Rochdale Council

 

Acas’ new advice is clear that some people may not feel that they are able to return to work due to worries around catching the virus; childcare responsibilities; or they could be an extremely vulnerable person or live with someone who is. In any of these situations, an employer should listen to staff concerns.

Some practical options to consider are:

  • arrange for someone to work different hours temporarily to avoid peak time travel;
  • keep someone on furlough if they are temporarily unable to work; or
  • offer extra car parking where possible so that people can avoid using public transport

If none of these options are possible then it may be possible to take time off as holiday or unpaid leave, but an employer does not have to agree to this. If someone refuses to attend work without a valid reason, then it could result in disciplinary action.

The full advice includes proposed changes to employment contracts on returning to work, staff anxious about returning to work and how to raise it as an issue. Please see:

Employers should also display a visible notice in their shop windows or outside their store to show their employees, customers and other visitors that they have followed government guidance, which can be found here:

Full details of workplace guidance can be found here:

with further downloadable information here:

Downloadable posters and signage are available from Rochdale Borough Council’s website at: www.rochdale.gov.uk/health-and-wellbeing/coronavirus/Pages/working-safely.aspx

Rochdale BID has also made a number of posters available for retailers to download here: 

Are you making changes to your workforce?

If you are reducing your workforce, making redundancies or will no longer be using agencies to support your business, please advise your employees to get in touch with Rochdale Council’s Work and Skills Team at the earliest opportunity via jobsandskills@rochdale.gov.uk

Free support for your business

If you would like to discuss support for you as a business regarding training, recruitment or health and wellbeing support for your staff, please get in touch with Rochdale Council’s dedicated team via businesssupport@rochdale.gov.uk

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