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Council workplaces and the easing of lockdown

11 June 2020

As the government continues to ease the coronavirus lockdown restrictions many of you may be wondering when and if you'll be able to return to your usual place and pattern of work alongside your colleagues.


We now know that those of you who have been working from home for the past few weeks will need to continue to do so until 30 September 2020 at the earliest, unless changes in government guidance mean a particular service needs to be fully reinstated at short notice. This September date will be continually reviewed as further government guidance is released and service needs change, and may need to be extended beyond the end of September.

Many colleagues, often in key worker roles, are continuing to work from council buildings and face to face with residents - albeit with very different arrangements - and these colleagues should continue with the current approach unless they are informed otherwise by their line manager. Those currently working in offices and the community can be reassured that we are continually reviewing any changes to the government guidance to ensure your safety and wellbeing in the workplace.

The changes to our ways of working caused by coronavirus can have impacts on your wellbeing. Not having your usual social interactions with colleagues, changes to what you do in your job and the intensity of recent months can have a real effect. Make sure you are looking after your wellbeing: take leave, take regular breaks, have a social catch up with colleagues virtually and use the wellbeing support we have put in place. Follow the advice on working at home and make sure you are having regular catch ups with your manager. If suitable equipment is a problem, please remember that the Business Centre has offered assistance including the delivery of office equipment to homes. If you have concerns about being at home because of a personal situation please talk to your line manager

The most important factor in planning a phased return to our buildings is protecting your health, safety and wellbeing by making sure workspaces are COVID secure. In order to do this, we’re prioritising the return of some colleagues in services that are statutory, where resident need is highest, where the government or courts have given dates for services reopening, or where it's impossible to deliver a service away from the office.

Corporate property are working with health and safety colleagues and senior management teams from all 4 departments to decide which buildings and services will need to be opened. You’ll have seen that we've already progressed reopening schools, waste services and countryside sites and opening any further buildings and services will need to take into account all the latest guidance on social distancing.

It's important to understand that even when buildings do re-open, we're unlikely to see a return to the way things were before. Government guidance means there will need to be change in how workspaces are used and what that means for teams and individuals is currently being looked at.

We'll continue to provide regular updates as work on re-opening buildings progresses but please speak to your line manager if you have any questions.

Workplaces that are currently being used

There should be a risk assessment in place completed by your manager in line with the government guidance on working safely during coronavirus to ensure the wellbeing of colleagues who are not based at home. If you have not seen your workplace risk assessment or have concerns or questions you should approach your line manager in the first instance.

If you manage a workplace that is currently being used by employees, people who use our services or members of the public - this could be an office, a depot, care home or any other council building or service where someone works – then you need to make sure that there is a risk assessment in place.

These risk assessments should be reviewed regularly, particularly if government or council guidance changes. If you need advice please contact your departmental health and safety team.

A template risk assessment, a risk assessment plan and some guidance notes are available. Please make sure you follow them.