8th January 2021

How to ‘do as much as you possibly can’ if you have employees who cannot work from home

During the media briefing by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, yesterday, Thursday 7th January 2021, she spoke about the continued concern over rising virus transmission rates and the need for businesses to do more:

“Many businesses have already shown great flexibility in enabling more employees to work from home and I am grateful to them for that.  But I want to stress again the need for all companies to do as much as they possibly can.  All employers should be reviewing their operations to allow as many people as possible to work from home.  In particular, they should only be asking people to come into work, if it is for work that cannot possibly be done from home – and if it is for work that is genuinely essential…

…The bottom line here – and I need to be really blunt about this – is that for this lockdown to be as effective as we need it to be, we must radically reduce the number of interactions we are having. That means reducing to a minimum the reasons people are required to leave their home.

If we need to require more non-essential activity to close in order to achieve this we will have to do that.  That’s a matter of ongoing review by the Scottish Government right now. However, businesses can help now by limiting as far as possible the numbers of workers they are asking to leave their homes and I am asking them again to do so.”

What can you do to ensure that the employees in your workplace stay as safe as possible?

The Scottish Government are undoubtably looking to see a reaction and adjustment from business sectors in these times of additional restriction. Your checklist is as follows:

Review existing risk assessments and control measures to ensure these reflect current guidance and best practice. If in doubt or to make sure that you are following the latest guidance, regularly check the Scottish Government’s Guidance on safer workplaces https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-general-guidance-for-safer-workplaces/

For any employees who need to be in the workplace to carry out essential work, remind them that physical separation remains more important than ever. One top tip is to update any posters in the workplace, perhaps by printing them in a different colour, size and font. It’s easy to become blind to things we see them all the time.

Check that best practice previously achieved is consistently being adhered to in the workplace. Take some time to work the factory or office floor at different times of the day and clamp down on any bad practices, for example, colleagues standing too close to each other chatting or making cups of tea for each.

Consider all roles which can reasonably be carried out from home during this period of enhanced restrictions and make changes to reduce interactions where possible. If there are roles that can’t be carried out from home and they are not truly essential, Flexible Furlough is available for use.

Maintain evidence of any adjustments made, and communicate these to your employees so that these are well understood.

If you need any advice about how to do as much as you possibly can if you have employees who cannot work from home, get in touch with Blackadders’ Employment Team working in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and across Scotland.

Donna Reynolds, Partner
Accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a Specialist in Employment Law & Discrimination Law
Employment Law
Blackadders LLP


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