Looking after the health and safety of your employees who cannot work from home

6th Apr 2020

Throughout the COVID-19 epidemic, some employees are required to attend their workplace or travel to perform their role. Often they are delivering essential services that are essential customers and society as a whole. We have drawn on a range of global sources and The Institute’s research to provide an overview and guidance to help keep your employees safe in a range of working environments.


1) Make sure you have conducted a risk assessment appropriate to your workplaces

2) Promote personal hygiene and the facilities to enable it

Give clear guidance to employees and customers about requirements for personal hygiene including:

Make available toilet / washroom facilities to enable personal hygiene, with provision of soap, water, toilet paper and hand sanitiser. Make sure the facilities are kept clean and in good working order.

3) Make sure regular and thorough cleaning is undertaken

4) Communicate and consult proactively with employees

Organisations should communicate clearly with their employees about working arrangements and safety measures, setting out what is expected of employees, answering queries and providing guidance. Organisations should also consult with their employees, especially on changes to job roles or working patterns. Managers should also remind employees that they too have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and to not adversely affect the health and safety of others.

In particular, employees need to know:

5) Enable social distancing in areas open to the public (such as supermarkets)

6) Enable social distancing in an office environment (such as a call centre)

If it is not possible for employees to perform their roles at home:

7) Enable social distancing on site (such as a construction site or warehouse)

8) Enable social distancing when making deliveries

9) Practise social distancing when providing service at customer’s premises (such as essential maintenance or repair)

10) Travelling to and from work

11) Dealing with abusive customers

Most customers will understand that during the COVID-10 lockdown, many organisations are under pressure to maintain standards of service, may have reduced staff numbers and that employees are striving to do their best for customers in challenging circumstances. However, it’s possible that some customers my be angry about reduced levels of service or be unwilling to modify their expectations or behavior. Sometimes this can spill over into abusive or unacceptable behavior.

Employees should acknowledge and respond to customers who are exhibiting strong emotions, seek to understand the customer’s concern and identify a solution or way forward. At the same time, everyone – employee or customer - deserves to be treated with consideration and respect.

Organisations can help both employees and customers through the following:

12) Promote awareness and provide support for mental health and well-being

Encourage employees proactively manage their mental health and well-being and make sure they are aware of the support your organisation provides including line manager support, information resources, an employee helpline or counselling service.

If formal support is limited in the organisation is limited, or employees would prefer to access support independently, make people aware of trusted sources of advice. The NHS has published information about how to manage anxiety and a range of recommended helplines and organisations.

Key tips include:

We hope these top tips are useful and we’d love to hear your feedback. Should you have any questions you would like to ask us on this topic, or for more information about our how we are helping our members stay connected, please do get in touch at: [email protected]

Sources consulted:




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