The TUC is calling on government to ensure that employers assess the risks of their staff returning to work outside the home before lockdown restrictions are eased.
In a new report published this week, the TUC outlines what actions the government and employers need to take when lockdown is eased and also to prepare for that eventuality.
TUC says employers must be required to carry out a specific Covid-19 risk assessment, developed in consultation with unions and workers.
The assessment must, it says, identify what risks exist in the workplace and set out specific steps to mitigate them, including through social distancing.
The assessment should also be communicated to workers before they are expected to return to their normal place of work, and the TUC urges that employers start work on their assessments now.
TUC is also calling on the government to run a public information campaign to ensure working people can be confident that health and safety at work is a priority as they return to work. It should be on a scale similar to recent public information campaigns about coronavirus actions, explains the report.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: "We need tough new measures from government to reassure working people that their health and safety is a priority. Too many workers have already been forced to put their health on the line during this pandemic.
“We all want everyone to get back to work and start rebuilding Britain. But workers need confidence that they won’t have to put themselves or their families at unnecessary risk.
“Government must ensure that every employer performs a comprehensive risk assessment before asking staff to return to work. And bosses who don’t take steps to protect workers should be prosecuted."
In a TUC survey of 791 members of the public who are working from home or furloughed, 41 per cent said they were worried or slightly worried about returning to work, compared to 34 per cent who were not very worried.
When asked what was worrying them about returning to work, the most popular answers were about the ability to socially distance from colleagues, customers and clients. One in five were concerned about travelling to work on public transport – rising to 44 per cent among Londoners.
Preparing for the return to work outside the home: TUC report here
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