Has the effect of Covid on workplaces gone away? Despite the return to normality, such as the dropping of mask-wearing regulations, the re-opening of all sectors and a return to the office for many, COVID-19 has not gone away. It likely never will, there have been many new variants, and this looks set to continue. In recent weeks, according to the ONS, the percentage of people testing positive for coronavirus has continued to increase throughout the UK [source]. This raises problems for both employers and employees and impacts the workplace.
For employees who test positive for COVID-19, the government advises “try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. Try to work from home if you can. If you cannot work from home, talk to your employer about options available to you” [source].
As this is only advice and not government regulation, employees can continue to attend the workplace even if they test positive, raising many concerns. A recent report from Oxley and Patti stated, “with the lack of government guidance; it is for employers to balance the health and safety risk presented by rising rates relative to their workforce” [source].
Increased absence levels from more people testing positive for coronavirus will undoubtedly hit employers hard. Recent data showed that 3.8million days off were taken across the UK during June for COVID-related reasons, which is more than double the number taken in May. This comes at an estimated cost of £544 million and is something many employers can ill afford, given the current financial climate [source].
Many employers are now questioning whether it’s time to bring back precautions and regulations in workplaces to help reduce the number of people contracting and spreading coronavirus and reduce absence levels.
One solution for many organisations could be asking employees to work from home full time if they can until case numbers come down. Reducing the number of days people come into the office and have contact with people could help to reduce the number of cases. They should also encourage employees as much as possible to work from home if they feel unwell and have had contact with anyone who is ill or has tested positive for COVID-19.
Employers can also reduce the transmission and spread of coronavirus and other illnesses by improving ventilation in workplaces as much as possible. It has been proven that increased ventilation dramatically impacts air quality and reduces the spread of germs, which could be effective at lowering absence days.
Some employers are still offering their teams lateral flow tests, which can help catch cases in asymptomatic people and reduce the risk to the rest of the workforce.
If you need assistance from Occupational Health specialists, Insync Corporate Healthcare is here to help. We can work closely with you and your team to consider how you can minimise the impact of rising coronavirus cases on your workforce and business. Give us a call on 029 2076 1550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and someone will respond as soon as possible.