Working safely during coronavirus

Staying safe at work

Current government coronavirus (COVID-19) advice is that anyone who can work effectively from home should do so. 

For workplaces that are open, everyone should:

  • follow government guidance on making the workplace safe
  • avoid busy commuting times on public transport where travel is essential, and wear a face covering unless they're exempt
  • wash their hands regularly

You must not go to work if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

Making your workplace safe

Employers have a 'duty of care' for staff, customers and anyone else who visits the workplace. This means they must do all they reasonably can to support their health, safety and wellbeing.

To make the workplace safe, employers must:

The government guidelines include advice, and legal requirements where relevant, for different sectors and types of work.

For example, there are some workplaces where face coverings must now be worn, unless the individual is exempt, or where specific safety measures must be taken.

Social distancing at work

In Scotland and Wales, everyone should stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart ('social distancing' or 'physical distancing').

In England, everyone should stay 2 metres apart where possible. If it's not possible, people should be at least 1 metre apart and the employer should make extra changes to keep people safe. This might include things like wearing face coverings, working side by side instead of face to face, or using screens or barriers to separate people.

Health and safety advice

To get advice on working safely during coronavirus from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) you can:

Which workplaces must stay closed

The rules on which workplaces must close are different for England, Scotland and Wales. And some workplaces may need to close temporarily because of local and national lockdown restrictions.

For the latest government guidance:

If the workplace is closed

While the workplace is closed, employers should talk to staff about whether or not they can work from home.

If working from home is not possible, staff might:

  • be put on 'furlough' (temporary leave)
  • use paid holiday
  • use other paid or unpaid leave

Keeping in touch

This can be a difficult time for both employers and staff.

Employers should talk to staff regularly to:

  • check on their health and wellbeing
  • update staff on any actions they've taken

Employers should also talk to staff about any plans to change where they work from. For example:

  • working from home again, for those who've previously returned to the workplace
  • when it's safe to do so, returning to the workplace

Employers should tell staff about any health and wellbeing support available. For example:

  • support your workplace provides, for example through your employee assistance programme (EAP) if there’s one available
  • support that's available outside your workplace, for example from charities such as Mind

Find out more about:

Working from home

For any employee working from home, the employer should:

  • pay the employee as usual
  • keep in regular contact
  • check on the employee's health and wellbeing

Find out more about:

Government coronavirus guidance

Wider government guidance on the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is updated regularly. For the latest guidance:

Working safely
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