Health, safety and wellbeing
Clancy has additional duties to protect the health and safety of new and expectant mothers in the workplace. In summary, the law requires employers:
- To assess the workplace risks posed to new or expectant mothers or their babies.
- To alter the employee’s working conditions or hours of work to avoid any significant risk
- Where it is not reasonable to alter working conditions or hours, or would not avoid the risk, to offer suitable alternative work on terms that are not “substantially less favourable”.
- Where suitable alternative work is not available, or the employee reasonably refuses it, to suspend the employee on full pay.
Clancy has an ongoing health and safety duty to employees, and there are measures that we have taken to minimise risk. However, government guidance on limiting the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace seems to be limited at present to advice on frequent handwashing to staff and customers (and to cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces). The WHO guidance: Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19 suggests providing face masks but does not go so far as to suggest requiring that they be worn.
How should a line manager deal with an employee who has severe anxiety and is afraid to attend work?
Line Managers should be sympathetic to any concerns staff may have and try to resolve them to protect the health and safety of the employee. For example, if possible, we could offer flexible working, or allow the employee to take holiday or unpaid leave. An employee with severe anxiety may find their condition is exacerbated by travelling or being in public places due to the increased risk of contracting COVID-19. If their anxiety prevents them from attending work in these circumstances, it is possible that they may be regarded as on sick leave and therefore entitled to SSP or contractual sick pay. HR advice should be sought to determine whether adjustments, if any, should be made to assist the employee in continuing to work, such as home working or flexible hours. Please ensure your employees are aware of the Employee Assistance Helpline. 01455 254287.
Yes. You should keep staff informed about cases in your organisation. Remember, you probably don’t need to name individuals and you shouldn’t provide more information than necessary. You have an obligation to ensure the health and safety of your employees, as well as a duty of care. Data protection doesn’t prevent you doing this. Employees must be notified of the infection risk as soon as possible. However, the identity of the individual should not be disclosed. We should simply advise that an employee who has been in the workplace has been infected and that appropriate precautions should be taken.