Business Healthy Newsletter, 30 March 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. 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 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).
If you have symptoms of Covid-19
Anyone experiencing symptoms of coronavirus must self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test via GOV.UK, or by calling 119. There is a testing centre, at Guildhall Yard (EC2V 5AA), which is open seven days a week.
COVID Business Recovery Fund for City businesses
The City Corporation is making available grants to small and independent retailers and hospitality businesses, as well as those providing clinical and professional services (e.g. dentists and opticians), in the City, through a new COVID Business Recovery Fund of up to £50 million.
To find out more about the grant scheme, visit the City Corporation website.
COVID-19 vaccine: What does it mean for employers?
The COVID-19 vaccination programme continues across the UK, and is an important tool in bringing the pandemic to an end. It does, however, raise some questions for employers around how vaccines fit in with workplace health and safety requirements, as well as wider employment regulations and laws.
The CIPD has produced some useful resources for employers 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. These include:
- a recording of a webinar on the “COVID-19 vaccine and the workplace”, from 11 February
- an employer guide on “Preparing for the COVID-19 vaccination”
- a template for an organisational “Coronavirus vaccine policy”
Employers can be influential in encouraging – rather than compelling – their staff to take up the COVID-19 vaccine when it’s offered to them, whether that’s by signposting them to clear and evidence-based information about the vaccine (such as sharing information from reputable sources such as the NHS and local health and care partners, and promoting events such as the one listed below), promoting the benefits of vaccination, assisting them to take time off work to get vaccinated, and providing sick leave in case mild side effects are experienced. In addition to vaccination, existing infection prevention control measures remain crucial.
Further FAQs resources about the COVID-19 vaccine
- 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.
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 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, 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 workplaces
Free rapid COVID-19 tests for your workforce
The Department of Health and Social Care has announced futher options for employers wishing to provide rapid asymptomatic testing to its workforce. Both offers provide free tests to businesses through the NHS:
- Employers with more than 10 employees, who cannot offer on-site testing – due to lack of space or operational challenges – will be able to access home rapid tests (self-tests) for their staff, as of 6 April
- Employers of any size can apply to provide rapid tests on-site in their workplaces, supervised by staff.
To be able to take up either offer before the end of June, employers must register by 12 April via this portal.
Workers can also access rapid testing at a rapid testing centre near to where they live or work, using the postcode locator tool. Rapid testing appointments in the City and Hackney can be booked here, and there is also a site in Old Street.
It is recommended that workers eligible for rapid asymptomatic testing (i.e. those who cannot work from home) are tested every three to five days. While Government policy is that rapid asymptomatic testing of workers is voluntary, businesses can encourage uptake among staff by communicating the benefits of regular rapid testing, as well as assisting staff to build it into their work routines.
Around one in three people with coronavirus do not display any symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus without knowing.
Frequent testing of people without symptoms, in frontline/ key/ essential roles that can’t be done from home, is crucial to identifying when someone needs to self-isolate, therefore stopping the chain of transmission, keeping workers and others safe and healthy, and reducing the risk of disruption to business operations. This is necessary even where someone has had one or two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
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.
Workplace testing: private sector masterclass, 31 March, 3pm
Join this short online masterclass to hear from Christine Wright – Occupational Health Advisor at multinational energy company RWE – about their journey to setting up rapid workforce testing within their workplace. There will be opportunities to ask questions to the speakers. Register for the Zoom session here.
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).
Free rapid COVID-19 testing for any City worker who cannot work from home
Rapid COVID-19 testing is available to all eligible City workers and volunteers at the 80 Leadenhall Street site in the Square Mile, as well as other local sites. Appointments are available Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm and must be booked in advance, via this portal. There is also a postcode look-up tool to assist individuals to find the nearest rapid testing centre to where they live.
Posters and other promotional materials to help share information about rapid COVID-19 tests can be accessed on the PHE website.
Using the NHS COVID-19 app in the workplace
The NHS COVID-19 app is an important part of NHS Test and Trace and can help to keep people safe. 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.
Certain organisations, such as hospitality, close-contact services, and those in the tourism and leisure sectors, are legally required to request contact details of customers, visitors and staff and display an official NHS QR code poster.
It is now mandatory for venues to ask every customer or visitor to scan the QR code using their app, or provide their name and contact details, not just a lead member of the group. This is to ensure that everyone receives the necessary public health advice in a timely manner.
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.
Thought of the Week
“Our commutes were essentially helping us to transition into and out of work mode. The routine of commuting and ending up in the office was a mental sign to begin working. Now, both cues that traditionally began the work day have been removed, so it’s no surprise that you might find yourself struggling to switch between home mode and work mode.
Enter the fake commute…an optimised morning routine designed to create a distinction between home time and work time. It provides structure to days that otherwise feel like they all blend together.”
– “How fake commuting can improve your remote workday“, Forbes.com
“Walk to Work Day” is on Tuesday 6 April. While active forms of travel – such as cycling or walking – can be a healthier, more sustainable and cost-saving alternative to driving or taking public transport, many people are still working from home.
Walk to Work Day is a great opportunity to encourage a “fake commute”, especially now that the evenings are lighter – encouraging staff to take a break from their screen, down tools and get outside to stretch their legs and get some fresh air at the start and end of working hours.
Free webinar: Reopening advice session for City of London and Hackney businesses, Wednesday 7 April, 3 – 4.30pm
Businesses in all sectors and of all sizes in the City of London and Hackney are invited to join a free webinar that will provide advice and information on reopening, as lockdown measures are eased in line with the Government’s roadmap.
Speakers will include the Director of Public Health for the City of London and Hackney – Dr Sandra Husbands – as well as speakers from a range of City Corporation and Hackney Council teams, including Environmental Health, Licensing, and local Police.
The webinar will take place on Wednesday 7 April, 3 to 4.30pm, and will cover:
- An overview of the current COVID-19 situation
- The Government’s roadmap and what this means for local businesses, including rules and regulations for businesses in stages 2, 3 and 4 of reopening
- Policing and Licensing
- Guidance on working safely once open, including testing, contact tracing, infection prevention measures, monitoring and reporting, and where to access support
Attendees will also have opportunities to ask questions to the speakers and to other attendees.
To find out more and register your interest, please 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 email the Business Healthy team.
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.
NHS wellbeing webinars series, 30 March – 5 May
Thrive LDN, NHS and partners return with another series of live wellbeing webinars, designed to support people with the emotional impact of the pandemic.
From 30 March, two live webinars will be streamed each week, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 12.30pm until 5 May.
The one-hour webinars will be led and delivered by Emily Gardner, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist at East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT).
The webinars offer a chance to explore ideas and strategies to support mental health and wellbeing, in a safe and welcoming environment, led by a clinician.
Topics covered include managing wellbeing, low mood and burnout, and sleeping difficulties, as well as working from home, and mindfulness.
Find out more and register here.
“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
London Business Hub’s COVID-19 Workplace Checklist
The Greater London Authority’s London Business Hub has developed a useful checklist and guide for employers in a range of sectors to understand what they need to do to ensure their workplaces are “COVID Secure”. It also contains recommendations for supporting employee wellbeing, according to best practice.
The resource covers:
- Risk management
- Consultation and communication
- Workforce management (including maintaining equality in the workplace)
- Social distancing
- Cleaning the workplace
- Inbound and outbound goods