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On Sunday Boris Johnson announced a partial return to work for some workers and on Monday a little more detailed was provided but what does this mean in practice?

Well it is quite clear that people who can work from home should still do so for the foreseeable future. This is, in part, to allow physical distancing for those that can go to work.

It is equally clear that anyone suffering symptoms, or those within households containing people who have symptoms of covid-19 should not go to work.

There are also workplaces in the hospitality industry and non-essential retail that were closed at the beginning of the lockdown which cannot re-open.

Other than this, the Government has said that people should go back to work in sectors of the economy that are allowed to open. The guidance cites as examples “food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories.” However, this is only on the proviso that it is safe to do so.

Workers and employers will not necessarily agree on whether sufficient safety measures can be put in place in any of the varied workplaces where people are employed. This is already resulting in disputes and is likely to generate a significant number of claims. Even if employers minimise the risk, the consequences of being held responsible for an employee who returns to work and catches covid-19 are considerable. The Government has promised further guidance this week in the form of “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines although these are unlikely to answer all questions that employers will have.

If you are a business with people returning to work and need advice then please contact our employment team [email protected] 

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