Business Healthy Newsletter, 11 March 2021
This newsletter is designed to provide a roundup of news, updates and information that may be useful in helping you to keep your workforce healthy and well. It is written in a way to make it easy for you to cut and paste content to share across your internal communications channels. If there is a way we can make this easier, please let us know here.
Business Healthy is funded and delivered by the City of London Corporation’s Public Health team, supporting the City Corporation’s statutory obligations to ensure the health and wellbeing of the more than half a million people who work in the Square Mile each day.
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Coronavirus (COVID-19): Updates for businesses
Employers want to keep their staff informed about the COVID-19 pandemic. There is lots of information and misinformation out there, so please ensure that any advice or guidance you are sharing only comes from a reputable source, such as the GOV.UK website.
This information was accurate at the time of sending the newsletter, but please bear in mind that the situation is changing and the most up to date information and guidance can be found on the GOV.UK website.
Employers must continue to follow health and safety workplace guidance for their sector. This includes encouraging workers who can do so effectively to work from home during the winter. The measures employers put in place to maintain social distancing and other preventative measures – such as the need for staff and visitors/ customers to wear face coverings – will depend on their individual business circumstances, including their working environment, the size of the site and the number of workers. The guidance will support employers to make an informed decision and extra consideration should be given to those people at higher clinical risk.
In addition, there are penalties for employers who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come into work.
For individuals needing to attend the workplace, employers should encourage them to follow guidance on travelling safely during the coronavirus outbreak, which includes considering all other forms of transport before using public transport, avoiding the busiest times and routes, maintaining social distance, wearing a face covering when travelling on public transport and washing or sanitising hands regularly.
Free webinar: Reopening advice session for City of London and Hackney businesses, Wednesday 7 April, 3 – 4.30pm
Businesses in all sectors and of all sizes in the City of London and Hackney are invited to join a free webinar that will provide advice and information on reopening, as lockdown measures are eased in line with the Government’s roadmap.
Speakers will include the Director of Public Health for the City of London and Hackney – Dr Sandra Husbands – as well as speakers from a range of City Corporation and Hackney Council teams, including Environmental Health, Licensing, and local Police. The session will be co-chaired by Member Ruby Sayed (City Corporation) and CllrChris Kennedy (Hackney Council).
The webinar will take place on Wednesday 7 April, 3 to 4.30pm, and will cover:
- An overview of the current COVID-19 situation
- The Government’s roadmap and what this means for local businesses, including rules and regulations for businesses in stages 2, 3 and 4 of reopening
- Policing and Licensing
- Guidance on working safely once open, including testing, contact tracing, infection prevention measures, monitoring and reporting, and where to access support
- Financial support for businesses, including grants
Attendees will also have opportunities to ask questions to the speakers and to other attendees.
To find out more and register your interest, please visit the Eventbrite page.
Free, on-site rapid COVID-19 testing for workplaces
Around one in three people with coronvairus do not display any symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus without knowing.
Rapid (lateral flow) testing is in place to identify when someone may be infectious, but without symptoms, and provides results in under 30 minutes.
Frequent testing of people without symptoms, in frontline/ key/ essential roles that can’t be done from home, is crucial to identifying when someone needs to self-isolate, therefore stopping the chain of transmission, keeping workers and others safe and healthy, and reducing the risk of disruption to business operations. This is necessary even where someone has had one or two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Regular testing could be the difference between a workplace being able to stay open and operational, or needing to close due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is offering workplaces of all sizes and in all sectors, where staff cannot work from home (for example if they are in security, cleaning, facilities management roles, or have to attend courts), with free rapid COVID-19 tests, which can be provided at the workplace until the end of June. This is a free offer, with costs of test kits covered by the NHS.
Already, many City businesses have benefitted from this offer to provide on-site rapid testing within their workplaces. Businesses who are keen to find out more about this offer must register their interest with the DHSC no later than 31 March. They will be screened and invited to a short webinar to find out more information, before deciding whether they would like to launch.
Free rapid COVID-19 testing for any City worker who cannot work from home
Rapid COVID-19 testing is available to all eligible City workers and volunteers at the 80 Leadenhall Street site in the Square Mile, as well as other local sites. Appointments are available Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm and must be booked in advance, via this portal. There is also a postcode look-up tool to assist individuals to find the nearest rapid testing centre to where they live.
Posters and other promotional materials to help share information about rapid COVID-19 tests can be accessed on the PHE website.
If you have symptoms of Covid-19
Anyone experiencing symptoms of coronavirus must self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test via GOV.UK, or by calling 119. There is a testing centre, at Guildhall Yard (EC2V 5AA), which is open seven days a week, 8am-8pm.
Roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England
London Business Hub has published a useful summary of the Government’s current roadmap out of lockdown. It highlights the earliest dates at which businesses in different sectors will be able to reopen, and other key milestones.
The “Work from Home” instruction, for those who can work remotely, is not likely to change until 21 June at the earliest.
COVID Business Recovery Fund for City businesses
The City Corporation is making available grants to small and independent retailers and hospitality businesses, as well as those providing clinical and professional services (e.g. dentists and opticians), in the City, through a new COVID Business Recovery Fund of up to £50 million.
To find out more about the grant scheme, visit the City Corporation website.
COVID-19 vaccine: What does it mean for employers?
The COVID-19 vaccination programme continues across the UK, and is an important tool in bringing the pandemic to an end. It does, however, raise some questions for employers around how vaccines fit in with workplace health and safety requirements, as well as wider employment regulations and laws.
The CIPD has produced some useful resources for employers outlining the role that employers can and should play in encouraging and facilitating the vaccination of their workforce, and the legal considerations they must address. These include:
- a recording of a webinar on the “COVID-19 vaccine and the workplace”, from 11 February
- an employer guide on “Preparing for the COVID-19 vaccination”
- a template for an organisational “Coronavirus vaccine policy”
Employers can be influential in encouraging – rather than compelling – their staff to take up the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s offered to them, whether that’s by signposting them to clear and evidence-based information about the vaccine (such as sharing information from reputable sources such as the NHS and local health and care partners, and promoting events such as the one listed below), promoting the benefits of vaccination, assisting them to take time off work to get vaccinated, and providing sick leave in case mild side effects are experienced. In addition to vaccination, existing infection prevention control measures remain crucial.
Further FAQs resources about the COVID-19 vaccine
- The East London Health and Care Partnership website has a set of comprehensive Frequently Asked Questions on the COVID-19 vaccine – feel free to share them more widely.
- Professor Chris Whitty – England’s Chief Medical Officer – delivered a lecture to the City of London’s Gresham College on 10 February, looking at the central role that vaccines play in healthcare and in tackling an increasing range of diseases, including COVID-19 and cancer. Through the lecture he seeks to adress four key questions around vaccination: when is a disease worth vaccinating against? How likely is the vaccination to work? What about side effects? And how should they be deployed? Access the online lecture here.
Preventing and managing COVID-19 outbreaks within your workplace
All settings, such as offices, shops, and hospitality venues, should have a designated COVID-19 “Single Point of Contact”, who is responsible for ensuring proper infection prevention and control measures, such as COVID-19-specific risk assessments – are in place.
The Single Point of Contact (SPoC) is also responsible for reporting incidents and outbreaks within their setting to Public Health England’s London Coronavirus Response Cell (PHE LCRC) and to the Local Authority. Both PHE LCRC and the Local Authority can provide support to the SPoC as and where required.
Information about the roles and responsibilities of SPoCs, PHE LCRC and the Local Authority across a range of different settings, including workplaces, retail and close contact services, takeaway outlets, and restaurants, bars, and dine-in cafes, is outlined in a series of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) available on the City Corporation’s COVID-19 Local Outbreak Prevention and Management webpage. This also includes key contact details.
For any queries relating to the SOPs or COVID-19 outbreak management, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Financial support for employees
A £500 Isolation Support Payment is available for people on low incomes, who can’t work from home and will lose income as a result of self-isolating because they or their household have COVID-19 symptoms, have tested positive, or have been asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace. Full details can be found here.
Self-Isolation Service Hub
This is a telephone line for employers and establishments to provide to NHS Test & Trace with a list of people who have been identified as contacts of a case of COVID-19 in their establishment, and therefore who must self-isolate.
It is critical that employers follow up and call 020 3743 6715 as soon as they have had a positive case in their establishment (and every time thereafter), because all contacts identified are then formally logged with NHS Test & Trace. This allows those contacts who are eligible to receive a self-isolation support payment from their home Local Authority. Without the NHS Test & Trace reference, they cannot receive financial support.
Employers will need the CTAS ID of the person who had a positive case, in order to be able to record the contacts from your establishment, and will be asked to collect this from the employee/person at their establishment who tested positive as soon as they receive it. This means the employer will be able to call the hub without delay, to be able to support their employees and visitors at the earliest opportunity.
Continuing to share preventative messages about “Hands, Face, Space”
Employers are asked to consider the increase in cases among working-age adults and to continue to share and reiterate messages with their employees, visitors and customers about the importance of following preventative measures to stop the spread of coronavirus. This includes minimising the number of unnecessary visits to offices, for example for meetings and by revising schedules for contractors delivering services, as outlined here.
If a staff member (or someone in their household), or a visitor to your premises has symptoms of COVID-19, you must turn them away.
Preventative measures, such as regular handwashing (“hands”), wearing a face covering (“face”) and distancing (“space”), are the best ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Please help us to continue to share these messages.
Downloadable PHE posters with information on handwashing, keeping your distance, face coverings and more, can be accessed here.
An NHS video on the best way to wash your hands can be viewed here. Please watch and share and keep sharing. Thorough handwashing is one of the most effective ways to help stop the infection from spreading.
Thought of the Week
“It is clear that women have suffered disproportionately [from the economic and societal impacts of the pandemic]…As the majority of the nation moved to working from home, wellbeing issues [for women] could not longer be neatly divided into separate ‘home’ and ‘work’ boxes.”
– The Women and Work All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has published a toolkit on “Women’s Wellbeing at Work”, which provides practical suggestions and strategies for employers and employees to design wellbeing policies and embrace the changing future of the workplace. It highlights the wellbeing issues faced by women in the workplace, with the aim of influencing and inspiring creative and innovative solutions.
March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. The Eve Appeal has some useful information and FAQs on persistent bloating as one of the main signs of ovarian cancer.
The Business Healthy website has a wealth of resources on menopause and women’s health, which can be accessed here.
Avoiding “COVID-Somnia” and getting a good night’s sleep
Bank Workers Charity (BWC) has developed some useful information and resources to tackle “COVID-Somnia” – what it refers to as “the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, which has made getting a good night’s rest significantly harder”.
Difficulty falling asleep, or poor quality of sleep can be a result of feeling anxious, worried, or stressed, or a lack of routine, spending lots of time at home, and not getting enough natural light during the day. Poor sleep hygiene can have a large impact on our mental and physical wellbeing in the short term, making us feel lethargic, irritable or less able to cope. In the longer term it can have more damaging impacts, such as making us more susceptible to illness, and creating a vicious cycle.
It suggests some practical steps to restoring and building a healthy sleep regime, such as:
- Sleeping at regular times
- Avoiding daytime naps
- Avoiding working in your bedroom, if possible
- Finding time during the day to move, even for short spells
- Creating a relaxing bedtime routine
Bank Workers Charity has also developed a short video with information on how to improve your sleep, which can be accessed on the BWC website.
Promoting a diverse and inclusive workforce in the legal sector: insights from The Law Society
In a blog for Business Healthy, Sarah Alonge – Diversity and Inclusion Adviser at the Law Society for England and Wales, talks through the key findings of research undertaken by the Law Society’s Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division (EMLD) into the experiences of Black, Asian and ethnic minority solicitors at different points in their careers.
It outlines some of the key challenges, and also highlights some core recommendations to promote diversity and inclusion within the sector, and to support the health and wellbeing of lawyers, solicitors and other professionals working in law, who are from a Black, Asian, or ethnic minority background.
- Taking a data-driven approach to diversity and inclusion (D&I), and using metrics to identify problem areas and design interventions
- Encouraging and leading conversations about race, and having a senior level sponsor for race inclusion
- Ensuring confidential ways of reporting racism, bullying and harassment, and microaggressions, so staff feel safe speaking up
- Including questions in staff surveys to assess inclusion and wellbeing, and analyse results by ethnicity
Dragon Cafe in the City online sessions, fortnightly on Wednesdays
The award-winning Dragon Café in the City continues to deliver its fortnightly online programme of free and creative activities to help City workers and residents to release the pressure.
Joining Dragon Cafe in the City activities is an opportunity to try something new, no matter where you’re working.
For details and to register for the online sessions (Zoom), please visit Dragon Cafe in the City’s website.
Stress Awareness Month (April)
Online learning platform FutureLearn has developed a free course on “Managing Mental Health and Stress”, in partnership with Coventry University and instructed by Dr Karen Maher – Assistant Professor in Occupational, Business and Organisational Psychology.
The course is for workers and employers alike, and anyone who is looking to further understand the links between work-related stress and mental health problems, as well as recognising the signs of mental illness.Find out more on the FutureLearn website.
Free and useful resources
Returning to work after COVID-19 infection and Long COVID – Society of Occupational Medicine leaflet
The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) has published a leaflet for workers, from Occupational Health Professionals, on how to manage getting back to work after COVID-19 infection and Long COVID.
The leaflet is aimed at those who are in a job already, or who are starting a new job, or looking for work. It’s been developed with the CIPD, Mind, Acas, and other key partners.
Access the leaflet here.
Leaflets from Men’s Minds Matter on helping men who are struggling with their mental health
Men’s Minds Matter is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the prevention of male suicide by building psychological resilience and emotional strength.
It has published two digital leaflets, one on “What to do if you’re feeling suicidal“, which includes advice on staying safe and coping skills, as well as details of organisations that can provide support. The other leaflet looks at “How to help a friend” who may be feeling suicidal, including how to start a conversation about suicide, and how to listen.