Business Healthy Newsletter, 12 January 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 visiting 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.

City workers urged to complain if they are being forced to go to work

The City of London Corporation is urging workers in the Square Mile to speak out if they are being forced or pressured to come into work during the national lockdown.

Government restrictions, set out in law, state that we all must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. You can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home. This includes, but is not limited to, people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance. Full details are available at

Workers concerned about the behaviour of their employer can contact the City Corporation here. Enquires will be dealt with in strict confidence, and officers are more than happy to provide advice, answer questions and refer issues to other relevant bodies where required.

Employers have a legal responsibility to protect their employees and other people on site. All relevant information relating to employee safety and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on the City Corporation website here. Businesses must take every possible step to facilitate employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.

Employers should also be familiar with the City Corporation’s Standard Operating Procedure for premises including details on processes and procedures on COVID-19 outbreak prevention and management.

City of London Police officers have issued more than 50 fines relating to breaches of COVID-19 restrictions in the Square Mile.


Port Health & Environment Committee Chairman Keith Bottomley said:

“The current situation is extremely serious, so it is vital that we stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.

“No one should be travelling into work unless it is absolutely necessary, and those that do should think carefully about whether they truly need to be at their workplace.

“If your employer is pressuring you to go into work when you don’t need to, please do speak out.”

Businesses and venues that breach restrictions on the national lockdown are potentially subject to a range of fines, starting at £1,000 for the first offence and rising to £10,000 upon repeat offences. Businesses can also be closed where they pose a serious and imminent threat to public health, including where this is necessary and proportionate to manage the spread of COVID-19 in the local authority’s area.

Individuals can also be issued with a fixed penalty notice, starting at £200 for those who participate in illegal gatherings. The police also have the power to take action against those holding or being involved in the holding of an illegal gathering of more than 30 people. This includes issuing a fixed penalty notice of £10,000.

More information is available here.

A range of financial support packages are available for businesses affected by COVID-19. Further details are available on GOV.UK, or on the City Corporation website.

Protecting key, routine, manual and service workers during COVID-19

We know that frontline workers in manual and people-facing roles have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 during the ongoing pandemic. Under Health and Safety Law, organisations are responsible for the health and wellbeing of both their direct employees, as well as that of anyone else working on their sites.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms – a new, persistent cough; high temperature; or a loss or change of sense of smell and/ or taste, should book a test through, or by calling 119. There is a testing centre, for people with symptoms of COVID-19, located in Guildhall Yard (EC2V 5AA), which is open seven days a week, 8am-8pm.

Rapid COVID-19 tests are also available for people without coronavirus symptoms, who cannot work from home and who are working in public-facing roles, or those in security, health or social care, cleaning, and facilities management. They provide same-day results.

Around one in three people with COVID-19 have no symptoms (are asymptomatic). Proactively testing asymptomatic individuals will help people identify when they have COVID-19, meaning they and their close contacts can self-isolate promptly and therefore help to safeguard the health and wellbeing of themselves and those around them, breaking the chains of transmission and reducing the spread of the virus. This also helps to reduce the risk of disruption to business.

Currently, these rapid tests – also known as Lateral Flow Tests – are available for people working in the City and Hackney at the centre at 18 Edward’s Lane (Stoke Newington, N16 0JJ). Appointments must be booked in advance via the Hackney website (see the section “Book a rapid COVID-19 Test”. Demand is extremely high, so if there are no appointments listed, all the slots are fully booked and the site should be checked regularly for availability.

If you have employees or workers on your site in these frontline, public-facing or other key manual roles that cannot be undertaken from home, please encourage them to get a Lateral Flow Test, if they do not have symptoms.

Individuals who have been instructed by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate and who are on a low income, unable to work from home and will lose income as a result, may be entitled to access the Test and Trace Support Payment. Employers and establishments can support workers to access this by making contact with the Self Isolation Service Hub on 020 3743 6715.

Additional Lateral Flow Testing centres are being opened across the local area. Updates will be communicated through this newsletter and the Business Healthy Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

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

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.

Testing and Tracing

By following Government guidance to protect the safety of their workers, as well as other people who may be affected by their business, employers can reduce the risk of co-workers having to self-isolate if a member of staff tests positive for COVID-19.

If a member of staff develops symptoms of COVID-19 – whether they at work or working from home – they must get tested for coronavirus and self-isolate immediately, along with other members of their household.

Anyone of any age with symptoms can access a test. More information about the NHS Test and Trace service can be found on the GOV.UK website and a test can be booked on the NHS website, or by calling 119.

Specific workplace guidance on NHS Test and Trace includes advice on why and how employers can support staff who may need to self-isolate.

Tools to support your employees in developing healthier habits

New Year’s Resolutions can be drastic, but committing to even the smallest changes can increase our chances of sticking to them and reaping the benefits, helping us to develop positive habits over the long term.

According to new survey data captured by Public Health England, roughly 80% of adults have made an active decision to make changes to their lifestyle this new year, with seven in ten (68%) saying they are motivated to make healthier changes due to coronavirus.

Among people aged 40 to 60 years, the top three lifestyle changes they are planning to make are:

  • exercising more (40%)
  • eating more healthily (39%)
  • losing weight (41%)

This comes as a significant proportion of individuals said that they have been snacking more, exercising less in the latter half of last year, and drinking more alcohol. Nearly a third of smokers reported that they are smoking more, and more than one in four adults (28%) aged 18+ feel that their mental health has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic.

Public Health England has launched a “Better Health” campaign to support the nation to do what it can to develop healthier lifestyle habits that can bring benefits to mental and physical health. The campaign covers a range of area, including nutrition, physical activity, alcohol consumption and smoking. The campaign also promotes a range of free tools and apps to assist with this, including the Easy Meals app, Couch to 5k programme, Heart Age app, BMI calculator, and the updated NHS Weight Loss Plan app.

Search “Better Health” or visit the NHS website for free tools and support with programmes.


Thought of the Week

“Testing at least once a year for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is good sexual health practice for everyone who is sexually active, even if you don’t know you haven’t put yourself at risk of infection. Depending on how many different sexual partners you have in any one year, you might want to consider testing more regularly.

Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) should get tested routinely for HIV and other STIs – at least annually, or every three months if having sex without condoms with new or casual partners.

Black African men and women should have a regular HIV and STI screen if having sex without condoms with new or casual partners.

If you have HIV, getting a test and finding out means you can start treatment, stay healthy and avoid passing the virus on to anyone else. The sooner you start treatment, the less likely you are to become seriously ill. People who are diagnosed early and get on to effective treatment can expect to live a normal lifespan. Once you’re on effective treatment and your viral load is undetectable, then you can’t pass the virus on to anyone else.”

Terrence Higgins Trust outlines the importance of regular HIV testing.

National HIV Testing Week is 1 – 7 February 2021.

Testing for HIV is quick and easy – all it takes is a finger-prick test, which can be undertaken at a sexual health clinic, your GP, a testing clinic, or from the comfort of your own home by ordering a discreet home-testing kit online.

Home testing kits ordered online include:

  • A self test, which you take yourself and see the result within a few minutes.
  • A postal test, where you take a sample yourself and send it off to a lab, who will then contact you with your result.

Most Londoners can access a free at-home HIV and STI testing kit through the Sexual Health London portal. Elsewhere in England, you can get a free postal test from

Terrence Higgins Trust has a free online HIV test finder to see what online testing is available in your area.

If you’re using a self test, look out for the CE mark.


Coming up…

Dragon Cafe in the City returns – Wednesday 13 January

The award-winning Dragon Café in the City will resume its fortnightly online programme of free and creative activities to help City workers and residents to release the pressure on Wednesday 13 January. It’s an opportunity to try something new, no matter if you are working from home or the office.

For details and to register for the online sessions (Zoom), please visit Dragon Cafe in the City’s website.

Bringing the City’s legal sector together: Online roundtable hosted by Policy Chair Catherine McGuinness, Wednesday 27 January, 3-4pm

This online roundtable discussion, aimed at senior leaders from the City’s legal sector, will look at lessons learned and opportunities presented by COVID-19, through the lens of workforce mental health and wellbeing in the legal sector.

It will be chaired by the Policy Chair of the City of London Corporation – Catherine McGuinness. Attendees will also be able to hear from a Partner at Dentons – Martin Mankabady, and David McCahon – Global Head of Commercial, Innovation and Technology Legal at Barclays – about their respective organisations’ response during these times.

While 2020 has been challenging for employers and employees alike, this session will be a safe space for organisations to share experiences, best practice and opportunities that have arisen from these significant changes to working practices due to the pandemic, and how these can be harnessed to help support and improve the mental wellbeing of the legal workforce.

The discussion will be conducted under Chatham House rules.

Places are strictly limited. To register your interest, please email us here.

Suicide Prevention Awareness session, in partnership with Samaritans and the City of London Police – Thursday 25 February, 9-11am

City workers have a crucial role to play in local suicide prevention efforts, and can often be the “eyes and ears” when it comes to identifying someone who may be in distress. This short and interactive awareness session provides practical tips on what to do and what not to do, the local situation with regards to suicide and suicide prevention, as well as insights on key listening skills.

We have been delivering these sessions on a regular basis over the past five years to a wide range of business representatives in many different sectors both within the City of London and beyond.

To find out more and to register your interest, please get in touch with the Business Healthy team here.

Work, Worklessness, and Wellbeing: COVID-19 and beyond

The Society of Occupational Medicine (SOM) is teaming up with Public Health England to deliver a series of free webinars focusing on key issues relating to work, worklessness and wellbeing during the pandemic and beyond. The series is part of a wider project guided by a steering group comprising experts and employers’ organisations.

These webinars are aimed at employers of any size and their employees. Register by clicking on the links below:


Free and useful resources

Thrive LDN’s “Support after sudden bereavement during the COVID-19 pandemic”

Bereavement is one of the most challenging things that we can experience, and it affects every one of us. In some traumatic circumstances, we might need additional and more specialised support to help us cope with a bereavement.

On behalf of Public Health England’s Office for London, Thrive LDN is coordinating the public mental health response to COVID-19 in the capital, to support the mental health and resilience of Londoners.

It has created a resource to support individuals if they are grieving the sudden death of someone close to them, or if they are supporting someone going through sudden bereavement.

The resource outlines what might happen in the weeks and months following a sudden bereavement, including the cycle of emotions and feelings. It also looks at what processes and actions need to happen from a practical point of view. Also included within the resource are a list of local and national bereavement support services. Access the resource here.

For a full list of services available to City workers to support their mental, physical, social and financial wellbeing, visit the Business Healthy website.

“Six ways to improve your wellbeing” – translated resources

Taking care of ourselves is really important, especially in these challenging times. Thrive LDN and Doctors of the World (DOTW) have joined forces to share guidance on six simple steps to improve our health and wellbeing, which has also been translated into 27 different languages, including Spanish, Polish and Portuguese.

Access the wellbeing guidance, as well as other translated materials on the DOTW website.


A dose of culture

Keats’s “Six Odes”

The Keats Foundation has published some of John Keats’ most well-known poems, the Six Odes. Performed by actor Matthew Coulton, the readings celebrate the poet’s greatest creative year. Find out more about this celebration and access the readings by visiting the Our City Together website.

Our City Together offers a mix of inspiring arts, culture and London history for the head and the heart, with plenty of online resources, events and activities. Visit the website to access it all.