Employers should still be cautious and recognise their legal duty of care to employees

CIPD responds to Government’s ‘Living with Covid-19’ strategy

Today the Prime Minister revealed the Government's ‘Living with Covid-19’ strategy. This includes the lifting of self-isolation requirements for those who test positive for the virus and the gradual withdrawal of free testing for the public at large in England.  
 
Responding to the plan, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said: 
 
“Up until this point, the rules around self-isolation have been clear-cut but we can now expect sectoral differences to emerge; for example on whether they expect workers to continue to test themselves – particularly those organisations who have direct contact with people in the wider community.  
 
“But in all cases, it will be important to continue an open dialogue with employees. When deciding what rules and guidance to put in place, employers need to be led by the principles of what is fair and reasonable to ask, respecting that many people with vulnerabilities will still be very concerned about coming into places of work. Reviewing or continuing existing practices to keep workplaces reasonably safe, for example with good ventilation, cleaning and sanitation, and meeting their fundamental duty of care to protect the physical and mental health of their employees will all need to continue to be a priority.  
 
“Employers need to be very aware of presenteeism (working when ill) and seek to address the causes, which may be employees feeling pressured to come in to work, or concerns about support and levels of sick pay. Individuals themselves must also take responsibility to protect others where they may be at risk. Trust between employers and employees will be fundamental. 
 
“Employers and line managers will also need to consult with their people to understand concerns and identify what adjustments could be made. This may include continued working from home for some, a move to hybrid working or greater flexibility on working hours so people can avoid busy commuting times.  
 
“Removing all remaining restrictions is a significant step and to many may signal the end of the pandemic, but we will continue to need to be vigilant and to take individual and collective responsibility to continue to protect each other and particular those who remain vulnerable."

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