Protecting your business from Covid-19
Last updated: Wednesday 6 April
The Public Health team at Nottinghamshire County Council works closely with experts and partners across the region, supporting businesses and the community to build resilience to both the health and economic effects caused by outbreaks of Covid-19. The information provided below can help you to prevent and, if necessary, manage an outbreak in the workplace.
This information provides advice to safeguard your business and explains where to get further help and support to protect yourself, your staff, and your customers during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
This section covers:
- Risk assessments
- Letting fresh air in
- Maintaining a clean workspace
- Supporting workers to stay at home when needed
- Managing staff members who are at higher risk from Covid-19
- Managing outbreaks in the workplace
1. Risk Assessments
As an employer, you have a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to take reasonable steps to reduce risks in your workplace. Covid-19 is highly transmissible in the workplace and is a reportable disease under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases, and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR).
Only employers that specifically work with COVID-19, such as laboratories, must continue to undertake a risk assessment that considers COVID-19. All other employers are not required to explicitly consider Covid-19 in your risk assessment, but you should manage the risks of Covid-19 as you would any others in your workplace. You can use the HSE’s Risk Assessment resources to help guide you.
Communicate all your procedures clearly to workers and provide training where necessary to ensure everyone understands. Ensure employees receive regular updates with how safety measures are being updated.
2. Let fresh air in
If indoors, good ventilation is essential. Try to have doors/windows open and/or any extraction system in full use. Use the HSE’s ventilation resources to help.
3. Maintaing a clean workspace
Staff can be supported by providing them with access to cleaning products, soap and hot water, or sanitiser.
4. Support workers to stay at home when unwell or they have a positive Covid-19 test result.
While it is no longer a legal requirement for people to isolate after testing positive for Covid-19 or unwell with respiratory symptoms, they are still encouraged to stay home and avoid contact with others for at least five days or until well enough to return to normal activities.
See the latest government guidance for people with respiratory infection symptoms for details. You should continue supporting your employees to follow the guidance as far as possible.
5. Managing staff members who are at higher risk from Covid-19
Some of your employees may be entitled to accommodations under the Equality Act. You may wish to consider the needs of employees who are at higher risk of Covid-19.
6.Managing outbreaks in the workplace
You do not need to report outbreaks of Covid-19 to our local Health Protection Team, but you can get in touch for advice and support as needed. Contact details are found on this website.
You should manage outbreaks by promoting the above principles rigorously when high numbers of cases have been identified in your workplace.
This section is about helping your employees to get vaccinated against Covid-19. It covers:
- Why you should support employees to get vaccinated
- How you can encourage vaccination
- Preparing your business for Covid-19 vaccination – policies, risk assessments and more
- Where your employees can get vaccinated
1. Why you should support employees to get vaccinated
You should provide impartial and factual information about the vaccine to your employees. You should make obtaining the vaccination as easy as possible for your employees.
Having the Covid-19 vaccine means:
- your employees can better protect themselves and those around them
- lower risk of your employees catching and spreading Covid-19 to colleagues, therefore reducing the negative impact on your workforce
- protecting your customers when using your services
- fewer sick days, and more productivity in your workforce
2. How you can encourage vaccination
Communicate with your employees
Some employers are nervous about discussing vaccination or providing information on vaccines to their workers. This is common for employers who have many vaccine-hesitant employees. However, we encourage every employer to discuss vaccination with their employees – especially if your employees are vaccine-hesitant!
There are many ways to approach the subject which respect your employees and make them feel valued.
Use the government’s campaign resources to run awareness campaigns in your organisation and provide employees with access to reliable and accurate information about the vaccines. You can access the resources here: Employer Toolkit - Coronavirus Resource centre (phe.gov.uk).
Use multilingual resources
Use the government’s multilingual resources to help inform your employees who speak languages other than English. Numerous languages are available including Polish, Romanian, Bengali, Hindi, Arabic, Tagalog, Twi, and BSL.
Videos can be found online: NHS England and NHS Improvement London » COVID-19 vaccine communication materials.
Written information can be found online: Health Publications.
Be as flexible as possible
We are all used to being flexible by now, with Covid-19 constantly changing the way we work. To live alongside Covid-19, we will need to continue to adjust and support our employees to get vaccinated. In addition to paying fully vaccinated staff their usual rates in cases of Covid-19 infection or vaccine reaction, this could include:
- giving paid time off work for employees to attend their vaccination appointment
- allowing the local health promotion team to visit your site
- facilitating discussions about vaccination during working hours, such as during staff meetings
Most importantly, you will want to weigh out the costs and benefits of promoting vaccination to your staff. Spending a bit of money and losing a few staff hours now could save you hundreds of staff hours and lost productivity later if many in your workforce were to fall extremely ill.
Inadequate staffing has led numerous local businesses to temporarily close throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in major impacts to their long-term success. We strongly encourage you to do what you can now to protect your business later.
3. Preparing your business for Covid-19 vaccination - policies, risk assessments and more
It helps to start the vaccine promotion process by preparing your policies and risk assessments. This will build your case for vaccination and determine your strategy. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has information here on helping employees get vaccinated and encourages employers to involve trade union representatives in discussions.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has information and resources on preparing your organisation for the COVID-19 vaccination (includes information on vaccination policy, risk assessments and vaccination recording).
If you have questions or concerns about your responsibilities or would like support organising your vaccination campaign, please contact Nottinghamshire County Council’s Outbreak Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Where your employees can get vaccinated
One of the simplest and most effective things you can do as an employer is to remind your employees to get their vaccination if they haven’t done so already. Your employees can book their own vaccination, or visit a walk-in centre.
If you are a large employer or an industrial estate, you may be able to request our local vaccination bus or health promotion team to visit you on site. Please note there is no guarantee of us being able to visit you. You can request the bus or ask for further information by contacting email@example.com
For further advice and support please contact your local Environmental Health team at your local Council. Environmental Health officers (EHOs) have a multidisciplinary role including food safety, infectious disease control and enforcing Health and Safety matters. For example, ensuring good hygiene practices are in place and ensuring workplace contact tracing of positive staff members is undertaken correctly.
Your local Environment Health team’s contact details can be found below:
Financial support is available for a range of businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. You can use the government’s support-finding tool to explore options that your business may be eligible for. Access the tool here: Find coronavirus financial support for your business.