With the end of the national lockdown and the introduction of the tier system that started on 2 December 2020, the UK Government has reiterated that employees in England who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter. [In Scotland employees should only go to work if it is essential for them to do so.]
Working from home
The announcement states that where employers, in consultation with their employees, conclude that the employees can carry out their normal duties from home, they should do so. To help contain the virus, office workers who can work effectively from home should do so over the winter.
Public sector employees working in essential services, including education settings, should continue to go to work where necessary. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work.
The risk of transmission can be substantially reduced if COVID-19 secure guidelines are closely followed however, extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk. Employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.
Restaurants and pubs located in Tier 3 areas are now only permitted to offer takeaways, while pubs in Tier 2 areas can operate if they serve ‘substantial meals’ and adhere to the new closing time which has been extended from 10:00 pm to 11:00 pm.
The first review of the new tier system will take place on 16 December 2020. Until then, all hospitality venues in Tier 1 can serve customers, although the ‘rule of six’ will be in place to ensure that a limit of up to six people from different households can mix. This rule is now applicable both indoors and outdoors.
In Tier Two regions, the ‘rule of six that allows the mixing of different households is only applicable outdoors. Pubs and restaurants in these areas can only serve people of the same household at tables indoors. Customers should leave after eating their meals and should be discouraged from “lingering”.
Hospitality venues and businesses will still need to maintain strict social distancing rules to keep their premises COVID secure. Official NHS QR code posters must also be displayed so that customers can ‘check in’ at different premises using this option as an alternative to providing their contact details.
Although they can trade again, leisure and entertainment venues, services provided in community centres, and close contact services will still be subject to the COVID-19 Secure requirements in law and fines of up to £10,000 for repeated breaches. Businesses must remind people to wear face coverings where mandated.
If you need any legal advice regarding UK Government guidance on working from home as it relates to COVID-19 secure requirements, give us a call on 0118 208 2000, or email us at: email@example.com
David Philip Harris is a recognised employment solicitor with over 10 years of experience in advising employees and employers on employment law matters. He is a frequent contributor to BBC Radio Berkshire and People Management Magazine. David has represented individual and corporate clients in the employment tribunal as well as the High Court and County Court. David is a member of The Law Society and The Employment Lawyers Association (ELA UK). To contact David, visit the Contact Us page. For media enquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org.