Business Healthy Newsletter, 22 April 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
Testing for COVID-19 helps to identify when someone has the virus and needs to self-isolate. By self-isolating, the spread of the virus can be much reduced, keeping workers, visitors and customers safe, and reducing the risk of business disruption. 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.
Testing is one of the key tools to helping to stop COVID-19 transmission, alongside maintaining distance with those outside of your household, wearing a face covering, washing your hands frequently, and ventilating spaces. Testing is important no matter whether you have had one or more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, or none.
Tests are provided by the NHS and are free. Given that many City workers use public transport to get to work, wherever possible, workers should be encouraged to test at home, or close to where they live. Government guidance on this is available here.
Rapid (lateral flow) testing for people without symptoms
Everyone in England is being encouraged to get tested twice a week with free rapid COVID-19 tests. These tests are for anyone who does not have symptoms of COVID-19. Results are available in 30 minutes.
Rapid testing is important because it helps identify people with COVID-19 who aren’t showing any symptoms, but are still infectious. Around one in three people with COVID-19 have no symptoms and may be spreading it without realising.
If your business is not already providing tests to your workforce through the DHSC programme, your workers can access rapid tests through the following routes:
- By ordering home testing kits to their home
- By collecting home testing kits from a collection point, such as a pharmacy, community centre, or testing centre. Find your nearest collection site here.
- By booking an appointment at a local testing centre
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.
Free support for City workers to stop smoking
From 26 April, City workers will be able to 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.
Thought of the Week
“On average, women reported spending 5 more hours on housework and 10 more hours on childcare than men per week during the first national lockdown. This increased housework and childcare was associated with higher levels of psychological distress among women. Both men and women who had to adapt their work patterns because of childcare or home schooling reported worse levels of psychological distress than those who did not. This association was much stronger is one parent was the only member of the household who adapted their work patterns, or if that parent was a lone mother.”
This Spotlight report is part of a series within the COVID-19 mental health and wellbeing surveillance report.
Allergy Awareness Week 2021 – Monday 26 to Friday 30 April
The focus of this year’s Allergy Awareness Week is on hayfever. Some of the symptoms of hayfever – such as a loss of smell, and coughing, are the same as COVID-19 symptoms, so it is important to be able to distinguish between common allergies and COVID-19 symptoms.
Read the blog post on the Business Healthy website to find out more.
If in doubt, and you have any of the main symptoms of COVID-19: a high temperature, new persistent cough, or loss or change to your sense of taste or smell, please self-isolate immediately and book a COVID-19 PCR test.
Online roundtable session: “Supporting City workers to access the COVID-19 vaccine” – Tuesday 27 April, 11am – 12pm
The City of London and Hackney Public Health team are keen to ensure that local people – including workers – are able to access the COVID-19 vaccine, and accurate information about it, when they want to.
We are aware that some groups of workers, even though they may be at increased risk from COVID-19, may face specific challenges in accessing the vaccine, and may require additional support.
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.
We are convening an off-the-record informal conversation with employers in the City, conducted under Chatham House Rule, to provide a safe space for organisations to share experiences, best practices and opportunities relating to workforce vaccination, as well as challenges, issues and barriers. The aim is to use these insights to provide support where it is needed.
We are particularly keen to hear from businesses employing/ contracting people in routine, manual, or service roles, such as cleaning, security, facilities management, and construction.
To register your interest, please email the Business Healthy team.
- 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.
Free Suicide Prevention Awareness for the City’s business community – Thursday 6 May, 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 – delivered by the City Corporation’s Public Health team, in partnership with Samaritans – 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.
These popular sessions have been delivered 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 visit the Eventbrite page.
Health, Safety and Wellbeing Advice for City SMEs – free webinar, Friday 7 May, 10-11am
Small and medium-sized businesses in the City of London are invited to join a free webinar, where they can access information and advice on how to operate safely as lockdown measures are eased in line with the Government’s roadmap.
Hear from members of the City Corporation’s Environmental Health and Public Health teams, and there will be opportunities to ask questions, too.
For more details and to book, visit the Eventbrite page.
“Mental health and wellbeing: Supporting you on your journey to go from good to great” – free webinar for businesses, 11 May, 10-11am
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, The Society of Occupational Medicine is partnering with Business Healthy, the Greater London Authority, Public Health England, Business in the Community, and others to deliver a free webinar for employers, focusing on workplace accreditation schemes to support workforce mental health and wellbeing, the evidence base that underpins them, and some practical case studies.
To register to find out more and sign up, please visit the Eventbrite page.
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.
“Reopening and recovery: All hands to the pump” online webinars
The Institute of Licensing and Best Bar None are working together with other organisations to deliver a series of free online webinars aimed at supporting industry and regulatory practitioners to prepare for the reopening of the leisure and hospitality sector.
Visit the Institute of Licensing’s events page for dates and information of upcoming webinars.
Free and useful resources
Society of Occupational Medicine’s “COVID-19 return to work in the roadmap out of lockdown: guidelines for workers, employers and health practitioners”
The University of Glasgow and The Society of Occupational Medicine have launched COVID-19 return to work guidelines which, for the first time, take account of community prevalence, vaccination status and previous COVID-19 infection in the risk assessment.
There are multiple factors to consider in the COVID-19 return to work risk assessment. These include community infection levels, individual vulnerability, workplace / commute transmission risk, workers’ concerns / expectations and more recently, vaccination and previous COVID-19 infection.
In this rapid guide, the authors describe these factors and present a simple stepwise approach to inform decisions and facilitate safe return to work.
The guidelines are intended for workers, employers and health practitioners. Unfortunately, only 50% of UK workers have access to occupational health, so for many workers their risk assessment will have to be done by their GP, employer or themselves and the guidance will help all parties understand their risks and the appropriate work-related control measures.
The Safety & Health Podcast: “Work-related stress and the wellbeing of frontline workers”
This episode of The Safety & Health Podcast features the Health and Safety Executive’s Senior Psychologist – Peter Kelly. Listen to it here.
Green ribbon resources for Mental Health Awareness Week 2021
The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May) is “Nature”. The Lord Mayor’s Appeal will be celebrating the positive impact nature can have on individuals’ wellbeing, especially during the pandemic.
The Lord Mayor’s Appeal’s “Green Ribbon” campaign aims to help end the stigma around mental health in the workplace. The green ribbon is a visible sign of support, to show those who are struggling that they are not alone, and to encourage people to share their stories.
Some ideas of ways your organisations can support the Green Ribbon campaign this MHAW:
- Turn your social media green with the virtual Green Ribbon banners
- Encourage your employees to share experiences of mental health through short videos or blogs
- Encourage your employees to share their photos of nature and of themselves wearing their green ribbons
- Create a Green Ribbon video, like this one here
For more details and to access resources to help you run your own Green Ribbon campaign, visit the Lord Mayor’s Appeal website.
Health and wellbeing of workers aged 50+
The City Wellness Link Group (CWLG) is a project team funded by Innovate UK to undertake a feasibility study into the use of digital health and wellbeing services to help workers aged 50+ to stay in employment for longer.
The CWLG project is supported by Fujitsu, Morrisons Supermarkets, Barts Health NHS Trust, East London NHS Foundation Trust and others, and is coordinated by the LSE’s European Knowledge Tree Group.
It is keen to engage with employers from the City of London and beyond on this project – to find out more, please email the CWLG team here.