Edwin Coe LLP (England-Wales): Employees working in your home – Government guidance

As part of the Government’s ‘phasing’ out of lockdown (see our previous update) the Government yesterday published its more detailed guidance to employers on the ‘lockdown release’ arrangements. Within that guidance, there are 8 specific guides for different workplaces, one of which is for those working in other people’s homes. A copy of the guide can be found here.

Section 1 makes it clear that the objective of the guidance is to ensure that all employers carry out a risk assessment noting that:

“As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to protect workers and others from risk to their health and safety. This means you need to think about the risks they face and do everything reasonably practicable to minimise them, recognising you cannot completely eliminate the risk of Covid-19”.

Much of the guide however addresses guidance for those who may be doing ad hoc work in a home (e.g. kitchen fitters) or those who are delivering. For classic, ‘home staff’ such as cleaners, nannies, gardeners, drivers, housekeepers etc, the detail is light. In the circumstances, it would be prudent to consider what could be taken from other aspects of guidance produced for other working environments, for example, office workers, much of which would be relevant to a home working environment also. A full list of the 8 guides can be found here.

In addition, the Government has published guidance on the use of public transport which, in short, is ‘not advised’ and alternative means of transport should be sought. This will be relevant to workers in the home environment also and should be considered in conjunction with the specific workplace guidance. The transport guidance can be found here.

We anticipate some complicated questions will arise for employers over the lockdown release where employees may lack confidence in measures being taken by an employer or where they live with elderly relatives or have children at home where school or alternative childcare arrangements are no longer available. Complete familiarity with the guidance and knowing the difference between isolating and shielding and which categories of individual is covered by which, will be key to managing such issues.

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