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Although lockdown restrictions are easing for many businesses across the country, health & safety and social distancing measures still apply.
Obeying these rules, and making sure customers do the same, can be challenging, so how do businesses and customers stay on the right side of the law and what are the penalties if they don’t?
Saiful Ahmed, Legal Advisor at DAS Law explains what you need to know….
The government has produced guidance applicable to any business which is permitted under current guidance to open. The guidance is produced to advise businesses how they can ensure that they are protecting staff and customers from the spread of Covid-19.
The provisions are fairly extensive and largely serve to promote good hygiene and social distancing. Importantly, all businesses that re-open must ensure that they carry out an appropriate Covid-19 risk assessment, which must be recorded in writing and displayed for viewing by employees. An appropriate risk assessment template has been produced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
To observe social distancing as much as possible, the government advises that employees should continue to work from home if they can to minimise the number of journeys people make. Even though the government has set out a roadmap of how the restrictions will be easing from 8th of March to 21st of June, it is still vitally important that businesses continue to observe measures to ensure everyone is doing all that they can to limit the risk of transmission of the virus. Below is a list of things that business should continue to undertake however, this is not an exhaustive list;
Staff who are in the workplace should be informed and trained on the new systems of working and on the symptoms of COVID-19 and be advised to appropriately self-isolate in the event they, or a member of their household, becomes symptomatic.
To encourage good hygiene, businesses should;
Any business which serves customers or has visitors who spend a period of time in the premises is required to take the personal details of those individuals for the purposes of the NHS test, track and trace programme. Businesses must keep these details for 21 days. Full details of the requirements can be found here https://www.gov.uk/guidance/maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-to-support-nhs-test-and-trace#information-to-collect.
The guidance above is largely followed by all of the devolved nations and so largely applies to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Please note that some of the devolved governments have enshrined some of this guidance into law.
The guidance produced by the government is in the interests of public health and safety. Therefore, if a business is not complying with the guidance and/or putting any person at risk they can be reported to the relevant authority for any breach. There are various reporting authorities but in the main complaints can be made to the HSE or the local authority. A full list of reporting authorities can be found here https://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/authority.htm.
It is an offence for a business to open in breach of lockdown restrictions. Enforcing authorities have the power to issue prohibition notices, fines and to force closure.
As it is a criminal offence, individuals as well as corporate bodies can be held liable for a breach.
The most recent guidance produced the government can be found online at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19. This page also provides links to relevant advice from the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland governments.
Further information on this topic can be found on DAS Businesslaw. To find out if you have access to this resource, please consult your policy documentation or contact your insurance broker.
If you are an insurance broker then you can quote and buy our products via DAS Connect, our E-Trade portal, or via your Acturis account.
DAS Businesslaw can help policyholders create a range of documents such as ready-to-sign contracts (with built in e-signature functionality), agreements, policies and letters.
Customers can also access guidance on a wide range of legal matters such as new legislation, employment issues, crowdfunding, tax and financial planning, and data protection. The service also includes numerous COVID-19-specific templates and guides for businesses.
Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.
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