The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has added two new sections to its guidance aimed at helping employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

These cover:

  • businesses providing close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers

  • hotels and other guest accommodation, indoor and outdoor attractions, business events and consumer shows (the visitor economy).

This guidance, which applies only to England, can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19 and follows the Prime Minister’s recent announcement about easing the rules on lockdown to allow more businesses to reopen and more people to get back to work.

It should be noted that some of the businesses mentioned in the section on close contact services, such as spray tanning studios, beauticians and tattooists, are not in the list of those being allowed to open from 4 July. The guidance is intended to help them to prepare for re-opening.

In those premises which are to re-open, customers will be urged to book in advance, order online or through apps and the guidance includes advice on how to reconfigure seating and to minimise self-service.

In addition, businesses should carry out a Covid-19 risk assessment to ensure the safety of their workplace, which should be published on their website, and they should also develop cleaning and hygiene procedures.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma has reminded employers that they have a legal duty to keep their employees safe and warned that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) could take action if they fail to do so.

There has been some confusion about what is meant by the new “one-metre plus” rule, replacing the previous requirement for people to stay two metres apart. The Government has confirmed that it means maintaining one metre distance but with added safeguards such as face coverings.

It has also stressed that people should still stay two metres apart where it is practicable to do so.

Comment by Croner Associate Director Paul Holcroft

For employers who can reopen their businesses amidst news of a likely second wave of coronavirus, this guidance will be encouraging for them.

Employers will now be more informed as to how they can keep customers, suppliers and employees in mind as they draw up risk assessments. Even the employers who are not allowed to reopen for the time being should acknowledge this guidance in anticipation of further government announcements in the coming weeks.

Doing this will let staff and members of the public know that health preservation guidance is being considered with the utmost importance.

Reversely, employers who do not follow this guidance — either as they reopen soon or in the future — may subsequently face problems retaining staff, or other serious issues could arise.

Last reviewed 26 June 2020