Business Healthy Newsletter, 17 May 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 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, and to refuse entry to their workplace/ premises for workers, visitors or customers who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19, and/ or have been instructed by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate.
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.
The instruction to “Work from Home” remains in place
Despite the continued easing of lockdown and the lifting of “Stay at Home”, the “Work from Home” instruction is still in place, and is not likely to change earlier than 21 June. By continuing to reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, for example through working from home where possible, we reduce the spread of coronavirus infection.
Businesses and premises that breach restrictions are at risk of being fined.
With increasing opportunities for staff to mix socially, there are subsequent increased risks of virus transmission among the workforce if they are attending the workplace.
For staff who cannot work from home and who do not have symptoms, frequent rapid testing is advised (scroll along for further details).
Financial support for City of London SMEs
Small and medium-sized City businesses that provide an in-person service to the general public in the retail, hospitality, leisure, or medical sectors (e.g. physiotherapists, opticians and dentists), can apply for financial grants through the City Corporation’s recently-launched Business Recovery Grant Fund.
In order to apply for the grant funding, businesses will also need to register with the COVID Compliant Accreditation Scheme, if they have not done so already.
The scheme is aimed at supporting businesses in their re-opening, and in reassuring customers that they have systems in place to minimise risks associated with coronavirus and that their premises are safe to visit.
To find out more details about the scheme, and to access the application firm, visit the City Corporation website.
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 Test and Trace 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, Fresh Air”
Core infection prevention control measures – regular handwashing/ sanitising (“hands”), wearing a face covering (“face”), maintaining distance with those we don’t live with (“space”), and ventilation (“fresh air”) – remain crucial to stopping the spread of coronavirus. Please help us to continue to share these messages with your workforce.
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.
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.
COVID-19 testing for businesses
Accessing free rapid COVID-19 tests for staff without symptoms
A local business has recently had to close due to a COVID-19 outbreak linked to its premises. As well as losing out on income as a result of closing and staff needing to self-isolate, the business also had to undertake a deep clean of the premises.
Twice-weekly rapid testing of staff without symptoms can help to avoid situations like this. It is a useful tool in helping to keep staff and customers safe, and minimise disruption to business operations, including needing to close down the premises.
Rapid COVID-19 tests are free and available to everyone in England without symptoms of COVID-19. They are quick and simple to do and provide results in 30 minutes.
One in three people with COVID-19 don’t show any symptoms and could be spreading the virus without knowing. Alongside other infection prevention control measures, such as wearing of face coverings, maintaining distance, ventilating spaces, regular washing of hands, and using QR codes to check in, rapid testing is a valuable tool to stop the transmission of COVID-19, and should be followed by everyone, whether they have received a COVID-19 vaccination, or not.
Employers are highly encouraged to have a form of rapid testing regime in place for their workforce. City workers are encouraged as much as possible to test at or near to home, before travelling to their place of work, and to record the result, whether positive or negative.
City businesses can now collect free home rapid testing kits for their staff from 65A Basinghall Street (EC2V 5DZ). There’s no need to pre-order, just turn up, 2-5pm, Monday to Friday. Up to 54 kits (containing 7 tests each) can be collected at any one time, and businesses will be asked to provide some basic details upon collection.
There are lots of ways City businesses and their workforce can access free rapid COVID-19 tests. To find out more, visit the City of London Corporation website.
Anyone receiving a positive result from a lateral flow (rapid) test will need to undertake a follow-up confirmatory PCR test within two days.
Posters and other promotional materials to help share information about rapid COVID-19 tests can be accessed on the PHE website.
PCR testing for people with symptoms
If you have any symptoms of COVID-19: a high temperature, new continuous cough, or a loss/ change to your sense of taste or smell, you must self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test to check whether you have COVID-19 or not. PCR tests can be booked here, or by calling 119. There is a testing centre, at Guildhall Yard (EC2V 5AA), which is open seven days a week.
COVID-19 employer testing duty
If you are an employer that requires staff to travel regularly across UK borders – in jobs that qualify for travel exemptions – you must take reasonable steps to facilitate your employees to take tests (a rapid test for those without symptoms, and a PCR for those with symptoms).
Please note that if your organisation is providing private rapid tests to workers, positive test results must be followed up with a confirmatory NHS PCR test.
The NHS COVID-19 app and contact tracing
Keeping records of staff, visitors, or customers attending your premises is key to protecting them, and to minimising disruption to business operations.
This can be done through manual data collection, through the use of the NHS QR code posters, and through encouraging the use of the NHS COVID-19 app by those on the premises. The rules around the use of the app, as well as data collection to assist NHS Test and Trace have changed. Please read the Government guidance for the latest information. This factsheet and process poster are also useful guides.
By law, hospitality services (including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes), close-contact services, and other settings, must request contact details of every customer, visitors and staff, and display an NHS QR code poster at their venue. This is a legal requirement and helps to ensure that everyone receives the necessary public health advice in a timely manner.
Using the NHS COVID-19 app in offices
Once downloaded, the app should be left on as much as possible to ensure contact tracing can work as intended. This includes within workplaces. However, there are some specific workplace scenarios when the contact tracing feature should be paused. See the “Using the NHS COVID-19 app as a worker” section in the guidance.
COVID-19 vaccines and the workforce
Employers have an important role to play in helping their workforce – employees and those working on their sites – to get the vaccine when they are invited to by the NHS. This includes sharing accurate information and FAQs, from a trustworthy source, about the vaccine and its benefits, and providing time off to attend their vaccine appointments, for example.
- The CIPD has produced some useful resources for employers on the COVID-19 vaccine and the workplace, 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.
- 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, focusing on the central role that vaccines play in healthcare and in tackling an increasing range of diseases, including COVID-19 and cancer. Access it here.
COVID-19 vaccination site in the City of London
Boots pharmacy at 120 Fleet Street (EC4A 2BE) is the first dedicated NHS COVID-19 vaccination site in the Square Mile, and is offering free vaccinations to City workers and residents.
Those who have not yet been vaccinated will be invited directly by the NHS or, if they are in an eligible group, they can book their COVID-19 vaccination appointment at the Boots pharmacy at 120 Fleet Street by visiting www.NHS.uk/covidvaccine or ringing 119. A vaccine appointment must be booked before turning up.
In addition to vaccination, existing infection prevention control measures remain crucial.
It’s Creativity and Wellbeing Week
17 to 23 May is Creativity and Wellbeing Week. There is a clear link between individuals participating in arts and culture and benefits to their health and wellbeing.
Thrive LDN and partners are hosting a series of free creative activities throughout Creativity and Wellbeing Week, including an interactive spoken word workshop, day-long mental health festival, and more. Full details and booking information is here.
Closer to home, the City Corporation supports engagement with arts and culture as a way for individuals to release the pressure. For example through the fortnightly Dragon Cafe in the City (more details below), Our City Together, and Culture Mile.
Thought of the Week
“Long working hours led to 745,000 deaths from stroke and ischemic heart disease in 2016, a 29% increase since 2000, according to the latest estimates by the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The study concludes that working 55 or more hours per week is associated with an estimated 35% higher risk of a stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, compared to working 35-40 hours a week.
This work-related disease burden is particularly significant in men (72% of deaths occurred among males)… and middle-aged or older workers.
The new analysis comes as the COVID-19 pandemic shines a spotlight on managing working hours; the pandemic is accelerating developments that could feed the trend towards increased working time.”
– “Long working hours increasing deaths from heart disease and stroke”, World Health Organization and ILO
Leadenhall sexual health clinic has reopened
The sexual health clinic at 80 Leadenhall Street (EC3A 3DH) has reopened to patients. While the clinic is not running a walk-in service at the moment, due to COVID-19, face-to-face appointments can be booked by calling Homerton Sexual Health Service on 020 7683 4103.
Staff will provide a telephone triage in the first instance, and can provide advice on a range of issues. If during the call they decide you need to be seen in person, they will arrange an appointment quickly.
In certain instances, appointments at Leadenhall and other local clinics can be booked online. A list of issues that are recommended for a face-to-face appointment can be found here. Bookings open at 7pm for appointments for the following day.
With lockdown measures easing further as of 17 May, looking after sexual and reproductive health is as important as ever, and there are lots of free services City workers are able to access to assist with this. A full list can be found on the Sexual Health webpage of the City Corporation website.
World No Tobacco Day, Sunday 30 May
Despite a steady decline in the rate of people who smoke, smoking remains the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in England. Around half of all lifelong smokers die prematurely, losing on average around 10 years of life.
Anyone working in the City can benefit from free, one-to-one stop smoking support, offered by the new Smokefree City & Hackney service.
Support is provided through a flexible programme in which people wanting to quit can get all the support and medication they need to kick the habit. Due to the ongoing pandemic, specialist advisors are providing remote support, such as through telephone clinics.
Research shows that most smokers would like to quit, and are three times more likely to successfully quit with support and medication compared to quitting on their own.
The service works with local pharmacies to provide stop smoking medication (free to those who don’t pay for prescriptions).
Appointments or self-referrals to the service can be made by calling 0800 046 99 46, or by completing the form here.
Please do share this information with your workforce.
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.
Free and useful resources
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the health and wellbeing of older workers?
A report from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) looks at how the health and wellbeing of workers aged 50 years and over has been impacted by the pandemic.
Key findings include:
- While changes to working lives brought on by the pandemic have negatively impacted the life satisfaction of some workers aged 50 years and over, among those who are working, life satisfaction is higher for older workers who are not working from home, compared with those who are working entirely from home. This may be because of the opportunity they have for face-to-face social interactions in the workplace.
- While the majority of older workers think they will not struggle to pay bills and expenses in the next three months, 1 in 12 think there is a 50% chance or higher of struggling financially.
- As a result of the pandemic, one in eight (13%) of workers aged 50 years and over say they have changed their retirement plans, with 5% saying they will retire earlier and 8% planning to retire later.
Free cycle skills training for City workers
Cycling is a healthy, affordable and environmentally-friendly way to travel. More people have been cycling during the pandemic, as people look for safe and enjoyable ways to get around.
City workers can access free training to help them develop cycle skills and gain confidence. Whether they are first-time riders, or regular cyclists looking to improve their confidence at complex junctions or in heavy traffic, the training can be tailored to their needs, and is available at Basic, Urban, and Advanced levels.
To find out more and book, visit the Cycle Confident website, or call 020 3031 6730.
Employers can also access bespoke cycling related packages for businesses. Please contact Cycle Confident about this to find out more.
In addition, businesses can access cargo bike rider training, offered by Pedal Me, so that they can transport goods by cargo bike safely.
Developing an employee wellbeing snapshot survey
Many employers have been running snapshot surveys to assess their workforce’s health and wellbeing throughout the pandemic. Pulse surveys are useful tools to informing planning around workforce health and wellbeing interventions, and to understand what type of support staff may need at a given time. This can be particularly useful to do on a regular basis through a period of change.
If you are not already running wellbeing pulse surveys for your workforce, you may like to consider doing so as part of your return to the workplace plans.
This employee wellbeing snapshot survey template, developed by the What Works Centre for Wellbeing in partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions, is a useful tool.
Golden Lane Sport and Fitness Centre
The City’s leisure centre – Golden Lane Sport and Fitness Centre – is now open and is welcoming City workers.
It offers a range of on-site facilities to stay fit and active, including swimming, gym and fitness equipment, tennis courts and an extensive programme of group exercise classes.