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Q&A: What the government is advising each sector on returning to work

PUBLISHED: 10:16 12 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:16 12 May 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) released a document yesterday on who should return to work and how.   Photo: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured) released a document yesterday on who should return to work and how. Photo: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA Wire

Yesterday the government released more detailed information about how workplaces should operate during the current lockdown, and as the measures ease.

Here, we take a look at the guidance by sector, and answer some FAQs.

• I work in an office, what’s the guidance?

The main objective remains that those that can work from home should – the only people going to work should be those who cannot work from home.

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If people must go to the office then a series of social distancing guidelines should be enforced. This includes minimising activity time, putting up screens between desks, increased hand washing, and having people work back-to-back or side-to-side rather than face-on.

Similar cautions should be applied when leaving or entering the office, with shifts staggered to avoid congestion and floor markings put in place to encourage a one-way system.

• I work in a factory – what do I do?

The same rules apply for factories as they do in offices – and across the board. You should only be going to work if you cannot work from home.

Given the nature of factory work a higher proportion of people will be eligible to go back to work. As a result precautions like reducing the amount of times equipment is used between people should be minimised, as should contact like getting onto site on a company shuttle bus.

• My job means I have to go into other people’s homes – should I still not go inside?

The government has said it recognises that for in-home service providers working from home is a challenge.

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As a result it has encouraged people do look for digital or remote alternatives where necessary.

If you must go into someone’s home, it is advised you have a conversation with the homeowner or client in advance to establish social distancing and hygiene protocols.

• I’m in construction – does this mean I should go to work?

The construction industry has been cited as one of the areas where people simply cannot work from home. However, this does not constitute a green light for everyone to go back to work at once.

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The government has said that any support staff who can work at home, should – only those who cannot should be on site.

On top of this barriers should be put up between work stations, and reduced contact such as fewer – but larger – deliveries to site being made, and handled by the same individuals.

• I run a non-essential shop but can’t work from home, what do I do?

The latest update on going to work if you cannot work from home must not contradict current lockdown measures.

That means if your shop has been ordered to close by government, it must remain closed.

Those who are eligible to go to work should do so with social distancing guidelines in place – and any staff that are not essential to the premises should remain at home.


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