Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Other people's homes

Guidance for people working in, visiting or delivering to other people's homes.

Applies to: England (see guidance for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland)

National restrictions in England are in place until 2 December. People should stay at home where possible and should only travel to work if they cannot work from home.

Those who need to visit other people’s homes for their work can continue to do so.

Find out about the restrictions and what you can and cannot do.

This guide was updated on 26 November 2020.

What’s changed

Updated guidance: new local restriction tiers information, directly below, and Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (section 2.2).

Updated priority actions. Updated Introduction. Updated risk assessment information (section 1). New NHS Test and Trace section (section 2.1). Equalities progress report added (section 2.2). New ventilation advice (section 5.1). PPE section simplified (section 6.1). Updated outbreak advice (section 7.1.2).

Local restriction tiers

The government has announced that the current national restrictions will be replaced on 2 December with a regionally-differentiated approach, where different tiers of restrictions apply in different parts of the country.

There are 3 tiers for local restrictions:

  • Tier 1: Medium alert
  • Tier 2: High alert
  • Tier 3: Very High alert

It is right to target the toughest measures only in areas where the virus is most prevalent and where we are seeing sharper increases in the rate of infection.

From (and including) 2 December, most businesses and venues will be allowed to open, following COVID-19 Secure guidelines.

This guidance sets out the restrictions that certain businesses and venues in England are required to follow.

Find out which tier your business will be in.

Individuals can work in other people’s homes, if COVID-Secure, under all tiers.

Priority actions to take - what businesses need to do to protect staff and customers

Eight steps to protect yourself, your staff and your customers during coronavirus.

  1. Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. Share it with all your staff. If you have fewer than 5 workers, or are self-employed, you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment. Find out how to do a risk assessment.

  2. Clean more often. Increase how often you clean surfaces, especially those that are being touched a lot. Ask your staff and your customers to use hand sanitiser and wash their hands frequently.

  3. Remind your customers and staff to wear face coverings where required to do so by law. That is especially important if your customers are likely to be around people they do not normally meet. Some exemptions apply. Check when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own.

  4. Make sure everyone is social distancing. Make it easy for everyone to do so by putting up signs or introducing a one-way system that your staff and customers can follow.

  5. Consider ventilation. Read the HSE advice on air conditioning and ventilation.

  6. Take part in NHS Test and Trace by keeping a record of all your staff and contractors for 21 days. This is a legal requirement. Some exemptions apply. Check ‘Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace’ for details.

  7. Turn people with coronavirus symptoms away. If a staff member (or someone in their household) or a customer has a persistent cough, a high temperature or has lost their sense of taste or smell, they should be isolating. Employers must not require someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work. Any employer asking an employee to break self-isolation to work is committing an offence.

  8. Consider the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus for yourself and others. The government has published guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Five more things to be aware of if your business provides services in other people’s homes:

  • Explain safety measures to your customer before entering their home. Make sure that members of the household know they should maintain social distancing from you.
  • Avoid crowded areas. Identify busy locations in the house such as hallways and avoid moving through them where possible.
  • Limit contact with customers. Bring your own food and drink and take breaks outside where possible. Avoid sharing items such as pens or tools.
  • When working in a household with people at higher risk, take extra measures to avoid contact, such as working in a separate room from them.
  • Communicate and train. Make sure all staff and customers are kept up to date with how safety measures are being used. 

These are the priority actions to make your business safe during coronavirus. You should also read the full version of the guidance below.

Introduction

The government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan presents a programme for suppressing the virus, protecting the NHS and the vulnerable, keeping education and the economy going and providing a route back to normality.

This guide will help you understand how to make your workplace COVID-Secure and help tackle COVID-19. We thank you for playing your part in this national effort.

Who this guide is for

This document is one of a set of documents about how to work safely in different types of workplace. This one is designed to be relevant for people who provide services in, and to, people’s homes (whether employed or self-employed) as well as employers of these individuals (which may include households). It will also be relevant to agencies who work with these individuals.

We acknowledge that this is a complex environment due to the varied employment relationships, including the self-employed, employers and agencies.

This guidance applies to those working in, visiting or delivering to home environments. These include, but are not limited to, people working in the following areas:

  • in home workers – such as repair services, fitters, meter readers, plumbers, cleaners, cooks, visiting childcare providers, and surveyors (this is not an exhaustive list)
  • to home services – such as delivery drivers momentarily at the door

This guidance does not directly apply to live-in nannies who spend all their time with one household, or to their employers.

People delivering close contact services in other people’s homes should also refer to guidance on keeping workers and clients safe during COVID-19 in close contact services.

We expect that this document will be updated over time. You can check for updates at www.gov.uk/workingsafely.

Who has contributed to this guide

This document has been prepared by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) with input from firms, unions, industry bodies and the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and in consultation with Public Health England (PHE) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Public health is devolved in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; this guidance should be considered alongside local public health and safety requirements and legislation in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. For advice to businesses in other parts of the UK please see guidance set by the Northern Ireland Executive, the Scottish Government and the Welsh Government.

If you have any feedback on this guidance, please email safer.workplaces@beis.gov.uk.

How to use this guidance

This document sets out guidance on how to open workplaces safely while minimising the risk of spreading COVID-19. It gives practical considerations of how this can be applied in the workplace.

Each business will need to translate this into the specific actions it needs to take, depending on the nature of their business, including the size and type of business, how it is organised, operated, managed and regulated. They will also need to monitor these measures to make sure they continue to protect customers and workers.

This guidance does not supersede any legal obligations relating to health and safety, employment or equalities and it is important that as a business or an employer you continue to comply with your existing obligations, including those relating to individuals with protected characteristics. It contains non-statutory guidance to take account when complying with these existing obligations. When considering how to apply this guidance, take into account agency workers, contractors and other people, as well as your employees.

To help you decide which actions to take, you must carry out an appropriate COVID-19 risk assessment, just as you would for other health and safety related hazards. This risk assessment must be done in consultation with unions or workers.

1. Thinking about risk

In this section

Objective: That all employers carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment.

As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety, including from the risks of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is a hazard in the workplace and, as such, should be managed in the same way as other workplace hazards. This includes completing a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks of COVID-19 in the workplace and identifying control measures to manage that risk.

Failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment and put in place sufficient control measures to manage the risk may be considered a breach of health and safety law.

Where the enforcing authority, such as the HSE or your local authority, identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, they will consider taking a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks.

Where the enforcing authority, such as the HSE or your local authority, identifies employers who are not taking action to comply with the relevant public health legislation and guidance to control public health risks, they are empowered to take a range of actions to improve control of workplace risks. For example, this would cover employers not taking appropriate action to ensure social distancing, where possible. Where serious breaches are identified HSE and Local Authorities have a range of things they can do to ensure compliance. These include sending letters, serving improvement notices and prohibition notices and in cases where significant breaches are identified then prosecutions can be brought.

  • Your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have done everything you need to. There are interactive tools available to support you from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).
  • You should also consider the security implications of any decisions and control measures you intend to put in place, as any revisions could present new or altered security risks that may require mitigation.
  • If you have fewer than 5 workers, or are self-employed, you don’t have to write anything down as part of your risk assessment, but you may decide it would be helpful to.
  • Employers have a duty to consult on health and safety matters. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work they do and how you will manage the risks from COVID-19.
  • This may be through consulting with any recognised trade union health and safety representatives or, if you don’t have any, with a representative chosen by workers.
  • As an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be. Employers and workers should always come together to resolve issues. If concerns still cannot be resolved, see below for further steps you can take.

Employers are expected to respond to any advice or notices issued by enforcing authorities rapidly and are required to do so within any timescales imposed by the enforcing authorities. The vast majority of employers are responsible and will join with the UK’s fight against COVID-19 by working with the government and their sector bodies to protect their workers and the public. However, inspectors are carrying out compliance checks nationwide to ensure that employers are taking the necessary steps.

How to raise a concern:

  • contact your employee representative
  • contact your trade union if you have one
  • contact HSE at:

HSE COVID-19 enquiries
Telephone: 0300 790 6787
Online: working safely enquiry form

1.1 Managing risk

Objective: To reduce risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures, in order of priority

Employers have a duty to reduce workplace risk to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures. Employers must work with any other employers or contractors sharing the workplace so that everybody’s health and safety is protected. In the context of COVID-19 this means protecting the health and safety of your workers and clients by working through these steps in order:

  1. Ensuring both workers and visitors who feel unwell stay at home and do not attend the premises. By law from 28 September businesses may not require a self-isolating employee to come into work.

  2. In every workplace, increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.

  3. Businesses and workplaces should make every reasonable effort to ensure their employees can work safely. Anyone who can work from home should do so. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work, if COVID-19 Secure guidelines are followed closely. When in the workplace, everyone should make every reasonable effort to comply with the social distancing guidelines set out by the government (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).

  4. Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity can be redesigned to maintain a 2m distance or 1m with risk mitigations where 2m is not viable.

    Further mitigating actions include:

    – further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
    – keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
    – using screens or barriers to separate people from each other.
    – using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
    – reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others).

  5. Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, even through redesigning a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between their staff.

  6. Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are strongly advised to work from home during the period of national restrictions. If they cannot work from home, they should not attend work for this period.

  7. You should ensure that steps are taken to avoid people needing to unduly raise their voices to each other. This includes, but is not limited to, refraining from playing music or broadcasts that may encourage shouting, including if played at a volume that makes normal conversation difficult. This is because of the potential for increased risk of transmission, particularly from aerosol transmission. We will develop further guidance, based on scientific evidence, to enable these activities as soon as possible.

  8. If people must work face-to-face for a sustained period with more than a small group of fixed partners, then you will need to assess whether the activity can safely go ahead. No one is obliged to work in an unsafe work environment.

    In your assessment you should have particular regard to whether the people doing the work are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

  9. If your building has been unoccupied for a period during any lockdowns, consider legionella risk and HSE advice.

The recommendations in the rest of this document are ones you must consider as you go through this process. You could also consider any advice that has been produced specifically for your sector, for example by trades associations.

If you are currently operating, you will already have carried out an assessment of the risks posed by COVID-19 in your workplace. Use this document to identify any further improvements you should make. You must review the measures you have put in place to make sure they are working. You should also review them if they may no longer be effective or if there are changes in the workplace that could lead to new risks.

Steps that will usually be needed when working in homes:

  1. No work should be carried out in a household which is isolating because one or more family members has symptoms or where an individual has been advised to shield - unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household.

  2. When working in a household where somebody is clinically vulnerable, but has not been asked to shield, for example, the home of someone over 70, prior arrangements should be made with vulnerable people to avoid any face-to-face contact, for example, when answering the door. You should be particularly strict about handwashing, coughing and sneezing hygiene, such as covering your nose and mouth and disposing of single-use tissues.

  3. Staying updated with the latest guidance and considering how it can be applied to your work. This can include:

    – washing your hands more often than usual for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose

    – reducing the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue and throw the tissue in a bin immediately, then wash your hands

    – cleaning regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people

    – communicating with households prior to any visit to discuss how the work will be carried out to minimise risk for all parties

    – maintaining social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) as far as possible.

1.2 Sharing the results of your risk assessment

You must share the results of your risk assessment with your workforce. If possible, you should consider publishing the results on your website (and we would expect all businesses with over 50 workers to do so). We would expect all businesses to demonstrate to their workers and customers that they have properly assessed their risk and taken appropriate measures to mitigate this. You should do this by displaying a notification in a prominent place in your business and on your website, if you have one.

Below you will find a notice you should sign and display in your workplace to show you have followed this guidance.

2. Who should go to work

In this section

Objective: Employers should ensure workplaces are safe for anyone who cannot work from home.

It is recognised that for providers of in-home services, it is often not possible to work from home.

Anyone who can work from home should do so. Anyone else who cannot work from home should go to their place of work. Employers should consult with their employees to determine who needs to come into the workplace. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk. When employers consider that workers should come into their place of work, then this will need to be reflected in the COVID-19 workplace risk assessment and actions taken to manage the risks of transmission in line with this guidance.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Finding digital or remote alternatives to physical, in-home work where possible such as video or phone consultations.

  2. Discussing working environment and practices with householders and clients in advance to confirm how the work will be carried out, if a physical visit is needed.

  3. Employers and agencies should keep in touch with workers, who they might usually meet with face-to-face, on their working arrangements including their welfare, mental and physical health and personal security.

2.1 Protecting people who are at higher risk

Objective: To support those who are at higher risk of infection and/or an adverse outcome if infected.

The Public Health England report Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19 shows that some groups of people may be at more risk of being infected and/or an adverse outcome if infected. Read the progress update reports.

The higher-risk groups include those who:

  • are older males
  • have a high body mass index (BMI)
  • have health conditions such as diabetes
  • are from some Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds

You should consider this in your risk assessment.

Tiering and the clinically extremely vulnerable

Advice to clinically extremely vulnerable individuals on attending work differs depending on which Tier their local area is in.

In Tier 1: Medium alert and Tier 2: High alert, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are advised to work from home where possible but can still attend work if they cannot work from home.

In Tier 3: Very High alert, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are strongly advised to work from home, but can still attend work if they cannot work from home. Employers should consider whether clinically extremely vulnerable individuals can take on an alternative role or change their working patterns temporarily to avoid travelling during busy periods.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Providing support for workers around mental health and wellbeing. This could include guidance or telephone support.

  2. See current guidance for advice on who is in the clinically extremely vulnerable and clinically vulnerable groups.

2.2 People who need to self-isolate

Objective: To make sure individuals who are advised to stay at home under existing government guidance to stop infection spreading do not physically come to work. This includes individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19, those who live in a household or are in a support bubble with someone who has symptoms and those who are advised to self-isolate as part of the government’s test and trace service.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Enabling workers to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate. By law, from 28 September employers must not knowingly require or encourage someone who is being required to self-isolate to come to work.

  2. See current guidance for employees and employers relating to statutory sick pay due to COVID-19.

  3. Ensuring any workers who have symptoms of COVID-19 - a high temperature, new and persistent cough or anosmia - however mild, should self-isolate for at least 10 days from when the symptoms started. Workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 should self-isolate for at least 10 days starting from the day the test was taken. Where a worker has tested positive whilst not experiencing symptoms but develops symptoms during the isolation period, they should restart the 10-day isolation period from the day the symptoms developed. This only applies to those who begin their isolation on or after 30 July 2020.

  4. See current guidance for people who have symptoms and those who live with others who have symptoms.

  5. Ensuring any workers who have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace follows the requirement to self-isolate. See current guidance for those who have been in contact with, but do not live with, a person who has tested positive for COVID-19.

2.3 Equality in the workplace

Objective: To make sure that nobody is discriminated against.

In applying this guidance, employers should be mindful of the particular needs of different groups of workers or individuals.

It is breaking the law to discriminate, directly or indirectly, against anyone because of a protected characteristic such as age, sex, disability, race or ethnicity.

Employers also have particular responsibilities towards disabled workers and those who are new or expectant mothers.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Understanding and taking into account the particular circumstances of those with different protected characteristics.

  2. Involving and communicating appropriately with workers whose protected characteristics might either expose them to a different degree of risk, or might make any steps you are thinking about inappropriate or challenging for them.

  3. Considering whether you need to put in place any particular measures or adjustments to take account of your duties under the equalities legislation.

  4. Making reasonable adjustments to avoid disabled workers being put at a disadvantage, and assessing the health and safety risks for new or expectant mothers.

  5. Making sure that the steps you take do not have an unjustifiable negative impact on some groups compared to others, for example, those with caring responsibilities or those with religious commitments.

3. Social distancing for workers

In this section:

Objective: Ensuring workers maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) wherever possible, including arriving at and departing from work, while in work and when travelling between sites.

You must maintain social distancing in the workplace wherever possible.

Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full in relation to a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity can be redesigned to maintain a 2m distance or 1m with risk mitigations where 2m is not viable.

Mitigating actions include:

  • further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
  • keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
  • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other
  • using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
  • reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)

Where the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full, even through redesigning a particular activity, businesses should consider whether that activity needs to continue for the business to operate, and if so, take all the mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between staff.

Social distancing applies to all parts of a business, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms, canteens and similar settings. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing and workers should be specifically reminded.

3.1 Coming to and leaving a home for work

Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible, including on arrival and departure and to ensure handwashing upon arrival.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Considering travelling to sites alone using your own transport, where insurance allows.

  2. If workers have no option but to travel together, for example delivery teams, the following should be encouraged:

    – arranging for journeys should be with the same individuals and limiting the number of people travelling per vehicle

    – maintaining good ventilation, for example, keeping windows open and passengers facing away from one another to reduce risk of transmission

    – cleaning vehicles regularly using gloves and standard cleaning products, with emphasis on handles and other areas where passengers may touch surfaces

    – employers or agencies matching workers to households local to them, where possible, to minimise transportation

    – washing hands on arrival and maintaining social distancing when entering the home

    – see government guidance on travelling to and from work.

3.2 Moving around when working in a home

Objective: To maintain social distancing wherever possible while performing work in the home.

It is recognised that for providers of some in-home services, it will not always be possible to maintain physical distance from customers.

If it is not possible to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) while working in the home, then extra attention needs to be paid to equipment, cleaning and hygiene to reduce risk.

Working materials, such as tools or domestic appliances, should be assigned to an individual and not shared if possible. If they need to be shared, they should be shared by the smallest possible number of people.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Discussing with households ahead of a visit to ask that social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable) are maintained between workers and householders, if possible.

  2. Asking that households leave all internal doors open to minimise contact with door handles.

  3. Identifying busy areas across the household where people travel to, from or through, for example, stairs and corridors, and minimising movement within these areas.

  4. Bringing your own food and drink to households and having breaks outside where possible.

  5. Limiting the number of workers within a confined space to maintain social distancing.

  6. Using a fixed pairing system if workers have to be in close proximity. For example, during 2-person assembly or maintenance.

  7. Allocating the same workers to a household where jobs are repetitive. Employers and agencies should introduce fixed pairing to have the same individuals allocated to a household where jobs are repetitive in nature.

3.3 Appointments in the home

Objective: To reduce transmission due to face-to-face meetings and maintain social distancing in meetings.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Using remote working tools to avoid in-person appointments.

  2. Only absolutely necessary participants should physically attend appointments and should maintain social distancing (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).

  1. Avoiding transmission during appointments, for example, from sharing pens, documents and other objects.

  2. Holding meetings outdoors or in well-ventilated rooms whenever possible.

3.4 Accidents, security and other incidents

Objective: To prioritise safety during incidents.

In an emergency, for example, an accident, provision of first aid, fire or break-in, people do not have to comply with social distancing guidelines if it would be unsafe.

People involved in the provision of assistance to others should pay particular attention to sanitation measures immediately afterwards, including washing hands.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Reviewing your incident and emergency procedures to ensure they reflect the social distancing principles as far as possible.

  2. Considering the security implications of any changes you intend to make to your operations and practices in response to COVID 19, as any revisions may present new or altered security risks which may need mitigations.

4 Interacting with householders

4.1 Providing and explaining available guidance

Objective: To make sure people understand what they need to do to maintain safety.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. If you are an employer or agency, providing your workers with information about how to operate safely in people’s homes.

  2. Communicating with households prior to arrival, and on arrival, to ensure the household understands the social distancing and hygiene measures that should be followed once work has commenced.

5. Cleaning the work area

In this section

5.1 Keeping the work area clean

Objective: To keep work areas in a home clean and prevent transmission by touching contaminated surfaces.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your usual cleaning products.

  2. Arranging methods of safely disposing waste with the householder.

  3. Removing all waste and belongings from the work area at the end of a shift and at the end of a job.

  4. If you are cleaning after a known or suspected case of coronavirus then you should refer to the specific guidance.

  5. Maintaining good ventilation in the work environment. Read advice on air conditioning and ventilation from HSE.

  6. Using non recycling bins to dispose of single use face coverings and PPE. You should refer to guidance for information on how to dispose of personal or business waste, including face coverings and PPE.

5.2 Hygiene

Objective: To help everyone keep good hygiene through the working day.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Washing your hands more often than usual for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose.

  2. Reducing the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve, not your hands. Throw the tissue in a bin immediately, then wash your hands.

  3. Cleaning regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

  4. If handwashing facilities are not accessible, you should carry hand sanitiser.

5.3 Handling goods, merchandise and other materials

Objective: To reduce transmission through contact with objects that come into or are removed from the home.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Ensuring social distancing and hygiene measures are followed when supplies or tools are needed to be delivered to a home, for example building supplies.

  2. Collecting materials in bulk to reduce the frequency of needing to visit shops to buy or collect materials.

  3. Removing waste in bulk if possible.

6. Personal protective equipment (PPE) and face coverings

In this section

6.1 Personal protective equipment (PPE)

Where you are already using PPE in your work activity to protect against non-COVID-19 risks, you should continue to do so.

COVID-19 is a different type of risk to the risks you normally face in a workplace, and needs to be managed through social distancing, hygiene and fixed teams or partnering, not through the use of PPE.

Workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Unless you are in a situation where the risk of COVID-19 transmission is very high, your risk assessment should reflect the fact that the role of PPE in providing additional protection is extremely limited. However, if your risk assessment does show that PPE is required, then you must provide this PPE free of charge to workers who need it. Any PPE provided must fit properly.

6.2 Face coverings

Face coverings are not a replacement for the other ways of managing risk, including minimising time spent in contact, using fixed teams and partnering for close-up work, and increasing hand and surface washing. These other measures remain the best ways of managing risk in the workplace and government would therefore not expect to see employers relying on face coverings as risk management for the purpose of their health and safety assessments.

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport and in a number of indoor premises, including visitors to storage and distribution facilities.

People are also encouraged to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces where there are people they do not normally meet. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and before and after taking them off.

Find further detail on when and where to wear face coverings..

Some people don’t have to wear a face covering including for health, age or equality reasons.

Employers should support their workers in using face coverings safely if they choose to wear one. This means telling workers:

  • wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser before putting a face covering on, and before and after removing it
  • when wearing a face covering, avoid touching your face or face covering, as you could contaminate them with germs from your hands
  • change your face covering if it becomes damp or if you’ve touched it
  • continue to wash your hands regularly
  • change and wash your face covering daily
  • if the material is washable, wash in line with manufacturer’s instructions. If it’s not washable, dispose of it carefully in your usual waste
  • practise social distancing wherever possible

Please be mindful that the wearing of a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.

You can make face-coverings at home. Find guidance on how to wear and make a face-covering on GOV.UK.

7. Workforce management: guidance for employers and agencies

In this section

7.1 Team working and outbreaks

7.1.1 Team working and working groups

Objective: To change the way work is organised to create distinct groups and reduce the number of contacts each worker has.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Where multiple workers are in a home, creating fixed teams of workers who carry out their duties in those teams, and minimising contact between each team.

  2. Identifying areas where people need to hand things to each other (such as shared tools and domestic appliances) and finding ways to remove direct contact, for example, by using drop-off points or transfer zones.

  3. Allocating the same worker to the same household each time there is a visit, for example, the same cleaner each time.

  4. You should assist the Test and Trace service by keeping a temporary record of your staff shift patterns for 21 days and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks. Check what data you need to collect and how it should be managed.

7.1.2 Outbreaks in the workplace

Objective: To provide guidance in an event of a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. As part of your risk assessment, you should ensure you have an up to date plan in case there is a COVID-19 outbreak. This plan should nominate a single point of contact (SPOC) where possible who should lead on contacting local Public Health teams.

  2. If there are more than 5 cases of COVID-19 associated with your workplace in 14 days, you should contact your local PHE health protection team to report the suspected outbreak. Find your local PHE health protection team.

  3. If the local PHE health protection team declares an outbreak, you will be asked to record details of symptomatic staff and assist with identifying contacts. You should therefore ensure all employment records are up to date. You will be provided with information about the outbreak management process, which will help you to implement control measures, assist with communications to staff, and reinforce prevention messages.

7.2 Work-related travel

7.2.1 Cars, accommodation and visits

Objective: To avoid unnecessary work-related travel and keep workers safe when they do need to travel between homes.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Follow the social distancing guidelines outlined in Section 3.1 –‘Coming to and leaving a home for work’.

  2. Where workers need to move between different homes and locations to complete their work, social distancing and hygiene advice should be considered, especially before entering other homes.

  3. Walking or cycling where possible. Where not possible, you can use public transport or drive. You must wear a face covering when using public transport.

  4. Where workers are required to stay away from their home, centrally logging the stay and making sure any overnight accommodation meets social distancing guidelines.

7.3 Communications and training

7.3.1 Returning to work

Objective: To make sure all workers understand COVID-19 related safety procedures.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Providing clear, consistent and regular communication to improve understanding and consistency of ways of working amongst your workers.

  2. Engaging with workers through existing communication routes and worker representatives to explain and agree any changes in working arrangements.

7.3.2 Ongoing communications

Objective: To make sure all workers are kept up to date with how safety measures are being implemented or updated.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Ongoing engagement with workers, (including through trades unions or employee representative groups) to monitor and understand any unforeseen impacts of changes to working environments.

  2. Awareness and focus on the importance of mental health at times of uncertainty. The government has published guidance on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus (COVID-19).

  3. Using simple, clear messaging to explain guidelines using images and clear language, with consideration of groups for which English may not be their first language and those with protected characteristics such as visual impairments.

  4. Communicating approaches and operational procedures to households to help their adoption before work commences.

8. Deliveries to the home

Objective: To maintain social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave a home.

Steps that will usually be needed:

  1. Minimising contact during deliveries wherever possible.

  2. Where possible and safe, having single workers load or unload vehicles.

  3. Where possible, using the same pairs of people for loads where more than one is needed.

  4. Minimising the contact during delivery, for example, by calling to inform of your arrival rather than ringing the doorbell.

  5. Minimising the contact during payments and exchange of documentation, for example, using electronic payment methods and electronically signed and exchanged documents.

Where to obtain further guidance

Find advice and support from your business representative organisation or trade association.

Download the ‘Staying COVID-19 Secure’ notice

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