Business Healthy Newsletter, 24 June 2020
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.
Coronavirus (Covid-19): Information and advice
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.
The UK Government is regularly updating its latest information and advice webpage on the GOV.UK website. Specific guidance is available for employers and businesses on working safely during coronavirus. The guidance covers a range of different types of work and further guidance will be published as more businesses are able to reopen.
Employers must continue to follow health and safety workplace guidance for their sector such as:
- making every reasonable effort to enable working from home as a first option
- where working from home isn’t possible, identifying sensible measures to control the risks in the workplace
- keeping the workplace clean, maintaining safe working separation, and preventing transmission through unnecessary touching of potentially contaminated surfaces
The measures employers put in place to maintain social distancing 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.
The introduction of the NHS Test and Trace service does not change the existing guidance about working from home wherever possible.
Travel to and from work
The Government is asking people to work from home where possible. Where staff are unable to work from home, they are being asked 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.
Employees who are “shielding”
The Government has advised that from 1 August, guidance for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be relaxed, so that they no longer have to “shield”. Those who need to work and cannot do so from home will be able to return to work from this date, as long as their workplace is “COVID secure”, adhering to the guidance available.
Individuals unable to work from home may feel uncertain about returning to work. Mindful of this, the government is asking employers to ease the transition for their clinically extremely vulnerable employees, ensuring that robust measures are put in place for those currently shielding to return to work when then are able to do so.
For anyone concerned about returning to work once the guidance has eased, they are advised to speak with their employer about the employer’s specific policies in relation to COVID-19, as well as the individual’s situation, agreeing a plan for returning to work and adjustments that may be needed before they return.
Should the level of disease in the community rise in the future, it may be necessary for the Government to advise that more restrictive measures should be taken in order for those at highest risk to keep themselves safe.
Sharing the message
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.
COVID-19 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.
NHS Test and Trace
If a member of staff develops symptoms of COVID-19 – whether they at work or working from home – they and their household must self-isolate immediately and get tested for coronavirus. Although this may seem disruptive for businesses, it is less disruptive than an outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace will be, and far less disruptive than periods in lockdown.
The test only checks if someone has coronavirus at that point and involves taking a swab of the throat and nose. 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.
The symptoms are:
- a new, continuous cough and/ or
- a high temperature and/ or
- a loss of change in normal sense of smell or taste
The test needs to be taken within the first 5 days of having symptoms, but it’s best to ask for the test in the first 3 days, as it may take a day or two to arrange.
For help booking a test, call the Coronavirus Testing Call Centre on 119 between the hours of 7am and 11pm. The service can be accessed by people with hearing or speech difficulties by calling 18001 119 (in England and Wales). To receive the test results you will need a phone number and – if you are booking the test online – an email address. If you do not have either of these, you can nominate someone to receive the results on your behalf. Their telephone number and/ or email address will need to be provided when you book the test.
Essential workers, or those living with essential workers, are prioritised for testing.
Guidance on why and how employers can support staff who may need to self-isolate can be found in the “Supporting workers who need to self-isolate” section of the Government guidance on NHS Test and Trace. This also includes information about Statutory Sick Pay for employees who are self-isolating and not able to work from home, as well as guidance for workers. There is also specific workplace guidance on NHS Test and Trace.
Multiple outbreaks in the workplace
Government guidance states that is there is more than one case of COVID-19 associated with a workplace, employers should contact their local health protection team to report the suspected outbreak.
The health protection team will:
- undertake a risk assessment
- provide public health advice
- where necessary, establish a multi-agency incident management team to manage the outbreak
Find your local health protection team by entering your workplace postcode here.
For City-based businesses, the local health protection team is PHE North East and North Central London Health Protection Team, based at:
Ground Floor South Wing, Fleetbank House, 2-6 Salisbury Square, London EC4Y 8AE
Phone: 020 3837 7084 (option 1)
Fax: 020 3837 7086
Temperature checks: efficacy and effectiveness
Public Health England (PHE) does not recommend temperature checks are used at transport hubs, workplaces, or other non-clinical settings to screen for possible COVID-19 cases.
This is because temperature checks are an ineffective screening tool for several reasons, including, but not limited to, the following:
- it is possible that individuals who are infected may not be displaying symptoms
- thermal scanners and handheld thermometers measure skin temperature, which is an inaccurate measure of core body temperature
- temperature checks using handheld infrared thermometers require the person conducting the screening to be within close proximity of the individual, therefore violating social distancing measures and presenting a health risk to the “measurer”
Thought of the week
“The last couple of months have been as difficult a period as any of us can remember. The coronavirus crisis has not created domestic abuse, but it has put a spotlight on how important a safe, stable home is in order to maintain both physical and mental health and wellbeing.”
– Fiona Cannon, Managing Director – Group Sustainable Business at Lloyds Banking Group, is quoted in a case study for Business Healthy.
The case study shares insights into efforts being undertaken by Lloyds Banking Group to support employees and customers experiencing domestic and financial abuse. Read the case study here.
New on the website
Video presentation on “supporting employees with cancer”
Earlier this month Business Healthy and the team at Maggie’s Barts joined forces to produce a short video presentation for HR, health and wellbeing and Occupational Health leads in City firms, focusing on how employers can support employees undergoing cancer treatment, or supporting a friend or loved one through cancer.
This short presentation delivered by a Maggie’s Cancer Support Specialist, provides practical considerations and advice for employers and also highlights the free support available to individuals affected by cancer, which can be accessed through the network of Maggie’s Centres across the UK, including the Centre at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London.
It also covers some frequently asked questions by employers about supporting employees, including with reasonable adjustments, financial worries, and how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is having an impact.
Access these insights and watch the video here.
Virtual Dragon Cafe in the City – TODAY (Wednesday 24 June)
The much-loved Dragon Cafe in the City continues to deliver its fortnightly Wellness Wednesday sessions, despite lockdown, helping City workers to release the pressure through a range of free creative activities.
Sessions are delivered virtually and the next session is taking place today, Wednesday 24 June, with activities including:
- Character drawing with a comic artist and illustrator
- Laughter yoga
The award-winning Dragon Café in the City is free and open to anyone working or living in the City and provides a safe online space for them to release the pressure, take a break from their busy routines and engage in creative activities designed to foster positive mental and physical wellbeing.
To access a PDF programme for the next session and joining instructions, please visit the Dragon Cafe in the City website.
You can subscribe to automatically receive the Dragon Café in the City programme into your inbox in advance, by visiting the website and signing up at the bottom of the page.
“Coping well during COVID-19”: a public webinar series from London’s health and care partners (ongoing)
London’s health and care partners are delivering a series of free weekly NHS-led webinars focusing on helping those who both live and work in London to cope with the impact of COVID-19. Londoners may be feeling incredibly anxious about coronavirus and how it is impacting them, their loved ones and London’s businesses.
Upcoming sessions focus on managing wellbeing, anxiety, and sleep:
- #5 Managing wellbeing (23 Jun, 4-5pm)
- #6 Anxiety (30 June, 4-5pm)
- #7 Sleep (14 July, 4-5pm)
For more information, visit the Eventbrite page.
Launching this autumn: expert Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) prevention sessions from Bart’s Heart Centre
The East London Prevention Group (ELoPE) from the Heart Centre at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London will shortly be launching sessions for the local business community on Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) prevention, led by their Consultant Cardiologists. Their aim is to reduce the CVD risk in the local community and within the City’s workforce.
These sessions form part of wider work being undertaken by ELoPE from Barts Health NHS Trust, in partnership with the British Heart Foundation, on raising awareness of CVD prevention across the community, including in schools and other settings.
The first webinar in a series that the team is looking to deliver is “How to prevent a heart attack”.
There is no set fee, but firms will be asked to make a donation in return for the session delivery to help raise funds for this important initiative.
If your firm would like to be one of the first to benefit from this excellent and unique offer, please email the Business Healthy team.
Accessing NHS services online
The NHS is asking you to help it to help you. If you need them, GP surgeries and A&E departments are still open and should be accessed. If you need an NHS service, try to do it online first. This helps everyone to follow social distancing.
There is help available for you to:
- Order repeat prescriptions
- Contact your GP, access GP online services, or arrange a GP or hospital appointment from home
- Find out about urgent dental treatment
- Manage long-term physical or mental health conditions
- Manage your mental and physical wellbeing and take control of your health from home.
Find out more by visiting the NHS Health at Home website. Unless you have been asked not to, you should continue to attend in-person appointments for ongoing treatment.
For urgent medical advice, the NHS 111 website will tell you when and where to get help, and can arrange for you to be contacted by a nurse if needed. Only call 111 if you are unable to get help online. In an emergency, call 999.
If you have a serious or life-threatening emergency or you feel very unwell, you should still go to hospital.
Whether your employees are working on-site, or working from home, they can still access a range of free support services designed to help them with their health and wellbeing. These services are available online or over the phone, in line with social distancing measures. Information about services available can be found on the Business Healthy website. Please share this information with your staff and colleagues.
TUC survey: treatment of BME workers during COVID-19
The union TUC is asking for assistance to understand the experiences of Black and Ethnic Minority (BME) workers during the coronavirus crisis.
These insights are important to giving evidence, sharing suggestions and to ensuring that a diversity of voices are heard in the current debate on racism in the workplace. The TUC wants to ensure that workers who may not feel able to raise issues with their employer for fear of victimisation, are able to provide their insights and voice their concerns.
To find out more and to access the survey, visit the TUC website.
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Previous editions of our newsletter can be found here.