Business Healthy Newsletter, 24 September 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.

Follow Business Healthy on Twitter or LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on news and developments in the world of employee health and wellbeing in the Square Mile.

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.

The UK Government is regularly updating its latest information and advice webpage on the GOV.UK website and a summary of new guidance issued on 22 September can be found here. Specific guidance is available for employers and businesses on working safely during coronavirus. The guidance covers a range of different types of work.

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 new penalties for employers who threaten self-isolating staff with redundancy if they do not come into work.

For staff 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.

Continuing to share preventative messages about “hands, face, space”

While workplaces are exempt from the recently-introduced “Rule of Six”, 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.

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 information sheets are available at the following links:

  • Downloadable PHE posters with information on handwashing, keeping your distance, face coverings and more, can be accessed here.
  • Face coverings information sheets in 12 different languages are available 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.

Government guidance for organisations providing COVID-19 testing programmes for their staff

Government has published guidance for any employers looking to introduce their own internal testing programmes outside of the NHS Test and Trace service, which is for those who display symptoms of COVID-19, or who have been advised to take a test by a medical practitioner or public service.

While the decision to make available private on-site virus and/ or antibody testing for staff and visitors is voluntary,  employers should be mindful that this may well negatively impact on the ability of the NHS Test and Trace programme to deliver tests to those with symptoms, as well as some frontline workers, such as care home staff. They are therefore asked to consider the potential ethical and wider societal impacts that private testing could have on the capacity of the wider symptoms.

In addition, a testing regime should not be used to try to confer confidence on members of the public, visitors or employees about the status of their employees, for example through the use of antibodies, as there is still little known about the level of immunity that those who have previously had the virus may have.

Employer and third-party healthcare providers wishing to provide a test to staff must not advise individuals without symptoms to get a test from the limited supply offered by Test and Trace.

Businesses are legally obliged to support NHS Test and Trace

From Thursday 24 September the new NHS COVID-19 App will be going live across England and Wales, which will help businesses to be COVID-Secure, and reduce the spread of the virus. From this date, many venues across the Square Mile and further afield will be legally required to display NHS QR posters on their premises, including those from the following sectors:

  • Hospitality services, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafés;
  • Tourism and leisure services, including hotels, museums, cinemas, zoos and theme parks;
  • Close-contact services, including hairdressers, barbershops and tailors;
  • Places of worship, including use for events and other community activities.

It only takes a few minutes to register your venue, create your unique QR code and print this out for display. You can do this here.

NHS COVID-19 app users will then be able to scan (check-in) as they enter a premises. This means that if people visit the premises and later test positive for the virus, then NHS Test and Trace will be able to quickly identify their contacts and alert them to self-isolate.

The app notification will not mention the name of your venue, it will just let app users know that they may have come into contact with coronavirus and provide them with public health guidance on next steps. Rest assured the app will also never access the GPS location, contacts, or any other personal data in the phones of users. More information about the QR code system and businesses’ obligations can be found here.

If a visitor doesn’t own a smartphone, they will need to provide their details to the venue who will then need to retain this, for 21 days,  in case NHS Test and Trace need to contact them. Please ensure that alternatives are available to log customer information and information on logging customer data for this purpose can be found here.

There are new restrictions on businesses in the hospitality sector, including around opening hours, and what customers can and can’t do. Non-compliance with the new measures could breach the law and make the employer subject to a large fine.

The Government has also published simplified COVID-19 Secure guidance.

Preventing and managing an outbreak in the workplace: City & Hackney Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Workplaces and other settings

As part of their joint COVID-19 Local Outbreak Control Plan (LOCP), the City Corporation and London Borough of Hackney have published Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for a range of settings, including:

  • Workplaces
  • Takeaway food premises and mobile catering
  • Restaurants, bars and dine-in cafes
  • Retail and close-contact services

The SOPs outline how an outbreak linked to the setting will be identified, reported and managed by local health authorities, and the role and responsibilities of businesses within this process.

The SOPs also outline the process through which information about an outbreak can flow in a timely manner between the setting, the local authority and other health authorities and partners.

Access the SOPs here. For any queries relating to the SOPs or COVID-19 outbreak management, please email

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 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, or by calling 119.

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.

As of Monday 28 September a new £500 Isolation Support Payment will be introduced for people on low incomes, who can’t work because they’ve tested positive or are asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace.

Supporting staff to stay healthy and well

Translated guidance and infographics for migrant communities

We live and work in a diverse city and sharing information in a range of languages can help us to ensure that it is accessible, no matter if staff speak English well, or not.

Doctors of the World has partnered with Thrive LDN to publish wellbeing guidance, “Six ways to improve your wellbeing”,  to support migrant communities during COVID-19. These resources are available in Polish and Spanish, as well as a range of other languages, and can be found here.

Free domestic abuse advice line for businesses: Hestia’s “Everyone’s Business”

Hestia – a domestic abuse charity that delivers services to London and surrounding areas – provides an advice line for businesses wanting to support employees who are experiencing, or who are at risk of, domestic abuse.

The “Everyone’s Business” Advice Line is a point of contact for businesses, supporting them on how to approach disclosures of domestic abuse by their employees, particularly in light of COVID-19 and how to triage employees into the appropriate local specialist domestic abuse services.

Everyone’s Business works with employers so that they can provide information, resources and practical guidance to employees who have experienced domestic abuse. When employers take action and respond to domestic abuse, it saves lives. It can help employers with the following:

  • COVID-19 related support, recognising the fact that home is not always a safe place for people
  • The use of business resources to provide a response
  • Increasing pathways to specialist support
  • Triage service with the completion of DASH-RIC

Facing up to domestic violence: Men’s services

The Domestic Violence Intervention Project (DVIP) helps men to change their behaviour and have safer, healthier relationships, by facing up to domestic violence.

DVIP can help any man – no matter his age, background, race or religion – who wants to end his abusive behaviour towards his partner or ex-partner.

Dragon Cafe in the City returns on Wednesday 30 September

The award-winning Dragon Café in the City provides a fortnightly online programme of free and creative activities to help City workers and residents to release the pressure and try something new, whether they are working from home or the office.

The next session is taking place throughout the afternoon of Wednesday 30 September and includes:

  • A nutrition and wellbeing workshop
  • “Design your own Dragon Café in the City”
  • The science of happiness
  • Yoga

…and more.

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

Thought of the Week

“We know that substance misuse is a significant issue in society [and]…we can expect that there will be a greater need for more preventative action and employer support for drug and alcohol misuse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and predicted economic downturn….

Employers should…take  preventative action, ensuring their workplace is not a contributing factor to substance use and misuse. This includes critically assessing the working culture and individuals’ job design to ensure they are not, for example, fuelling a drinking culture and that employees aren’t considering substance use to fit in or cope with long hours.”

– CIPD has published a set of resources for employers on managing drug and alcohol misuse at work, including guidance for line managers on providing support and dealing with disclosures. Access them here.

A dose of culture during lunch

While socialising with colleagues can still be a little tricky, it’s important for staff to get away from their desks during their lunchbreak to stretch their legs and take a mental rest. Whether employees are back in the office, or continuing to work from home, there is a wealth of free in-person and online events, exhibitions and resources available locally:

  • Active City Network’s “Hidden City” Walking Map, where you can find the City’s hidden gems and pocket parks
  • This video, which showcases three of the lesser-known, but just as beautiful, parks in the City: St Dunstan’s-in-the-East, Barbican and Postman’s Park
  • London Symphony Orchestra’s digital Always Playing season, with Chamber music performances and broadcasts from LSO St Luke’s, including BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concerts and Discovery Friday Lunchtime Concerts, as well as streamed Orchestral Concerts. More details to be announced.
  • Guildhall School of Music & Drama’s season of free, digital events. From late September 2020, online audiences will be able to enjoy a mixture of live broadcast and pre-recorded content from across all School departments, including a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s magical comedy ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, a new piece of theatre entitled ‘Pod’, a triple bill of Italian operas, and a three-day festival of devised works by Guildhall PACE students.
  • If you’re near the Barbican, you may like to check out the new installation in the Curve Gallery, “A Countervailing Theory”, which explores an imagined ancient myth, and is conceived by artist Toyin Ojih Odutola. Admission is free, but tickets must be booked in advance (until Jan 2021).

Helping to prevent suicides in the City of London

Suicide Prevention Awareness

Changes over recent months have meant that the support of City employers and their workforce in preventing suicides locally and beyond the Square Mile has never been more crucial.

To mark World Mental Health Day 2020, Business Healthy, in partnership with Samaritans and the City of London Police, is delivering another short Suicide Prevention Awareness session to the City of London’s business community, on the morning of Friday 9 October. The session is taking place on Zoom and places are limited, as this is a highly interactive session,

For more information the session, to reserve a place and to find out about local suicide prevention efforts, please visit the session’s Eventbrite page.

In addition, Zero Suicide Alliance has partnered with Thrive LDN to encourage Londoners to spare 20 minutes to complete its free, online, and self-guided training course.

Guidance on intervention

The City of London Corporation’s Department of Community and Children’s Services has produced a leaflet in conjunction with the City of London Police, which provides guidance on suicide intervention; what to do, and what not to do.

Access the leaflet here.

Insights from the experts

Financial wellbeing during COVID-19: What can employers do?

In this blog post Bank Workers Charity looks at the current and predicted economic fallout of COVID-19 and the impact this will have on the finances of many people, including workers.

Financial wellbeing is closely interlinked with other aspects of wellbeing, including mental and physical. This piece explores this relationship and also suggests some practical tips for employers keen to support their staff.

Using data to develop an effective workplace wellbeing programme

Paul Caudwell, Co-op’s Health and Wellbeing Manager, shares insights into how the organisation has tackled one of the most common challenges faced by employers implementing health and wellbeing interventions for their staff – using data to measure impact.

Paul’s top tips:

  • For those getting started, take a look at your data.
  • People can get hung up on too much detail.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your employees what will make the biggest difference to them.
  • It’s key that surveys are confidential.

Read in full here.

Staying connected with staff online

Working from home may have become the “norm”, but many employers and their staff are still adjusting to this way of working as a longer-term reality than first predicted.

While working from home brings benefits, and is helping to control the transmission of coronavirus, it can take its toll on staff mental wellbeing.

Miranda Coates – Programme Manager for the Supported Employment Network at Hackney CVS – suggests some easy ways for employers to ensure their staff stay mentally well and connected with their colleagues in this blog piece for Business Healthy.

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Previous editions of our newsletter can be found here.

Xenia Koumi

Xenia is a Public Health Specialist at the City of London Corporation and leads the Business Healthy programme