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Prolonged Concerns About Workplace Safety as Nearly 60% of Small Businesses Fear Working Exposes Them to COVID-19

As the coronavirus vaccine campaign progresses, UK businesses are once again preparing for a gradual return to on-site operations. At the same time, employers are remaining cautious given that the vast majority of the UK’s working population haven’t been offered the vaccination yet, prolonging concerns about workplace safety.
 
Proprietary research with our UK SME clients, has found that almost 60% of Small Businesses (SME’s) are concerned about bringing COVID-19 home to family or catching COVID-19 due to working. The ongoing health and safety concerns highlight the need to make sure that workplaces are COVID secure and risk assessments are up to date.
 
While the vaccination programme has seen 28.32 million receive the first vaccine dose, the majority of companies are likely to tread warily as they grapple with uncharted implications for their businesses and workforce. Although a few companies have introduced ‘no jab, no job’ policies, as Senior HR consultant at Alcumus, Melanie Darlington explains: “This approach could be risky as currently there is no legal way for a company to force employees to take a vaccine and people who refuse vaccination and are dismissed may have grounds to make a legal claim for unfair dismissal or discrimination.”
 
In the absence of mandatory vaccinations, and the Government confirming there are no current plans to do so, businesses looking to get back on track while everyone who is eligible has received a vaccination should continue to have clear risk policies in place to make sure their workplace is safe.
 
Sam Kitson, Head of Technical at Alcumus, says: “It’s critical that businesses have work risk assessments in place and that existing assessments are reviewed and updated in line with any changes to minimise the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. With the Health and Safety Executive running spot checks across all business sectors, failing to implement suitable COVID risk arrangements could lead to enforcement action including prosecutions.”
 
“It’s encouraging that 58% of SME customers believe their business will be unaffected in the long-term, however, businesses shouldn’t be complacent and need to continue to adapt and react quickly throughout the pandemic” says Gemma Archibald, Chief Operating Officer, SME at Alcumus. “Although you cannot require that your employees get vaccinated, businesses need to continually make sure their workplace is COVID secure and have work risk assessments in place to protect employees, visitors and customers. Our remote COVID-19 Risk Assessments and HR advice helps businesses to make sure the right arrangements are in place and are appropriate.”
 
If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Alcumus PSM HR team for assistance on 01484 439 930 or email: psm.enquiries@alcumusgroup.com. Alcumus PSM (People and Safety Management) specialises in human resources and health and safety consulting for small and medium-sized enterprises.
 
Alcumus proprietary research, based on 231 responses from UK SME clients.