Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for the performing arts and venues sector

Guidance for the performing arts and venues sector on safe re-opening during the coronavirus pandemic.

Contents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for the performing arts and venues sector
Workforce planning

Workforce planning 

Contents:

Supporting those who should come to work, and those who should not 

Nobody should go to work if their workplace is closed under current government regulations.

As a minimum we expect:

  • working from home to continue, where possible
  • health factors to be considered in any phasing of who returns to work, with workers living in high risk households only expected to return when new safe working environment measures have been implemented and a return to onsite work is consistent with individual medical advice
  • employees who are identified as at increased risk from covid-19 are able to attend work in person but should strictly follow physical distancing measures
  • new arrangements to be tested and modified through collaboration between employers and workers
  • organisations to take travel to work and childcare considerations into account in decisions around a phased restart

An individual risk assessment guidance and tool has been developed to help staff and managers consider the specific risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. It is relevant to all staff, but will be particularly relevant to those who are returning to work after shielding, those who are returning to normal duties after COVID-19 related restrictions, those who are returning to the workplace after working from home or anyone who has a concern about a particular vulnerability to COVID-19.

Continue home working

Minimising the spread of the virus will remain important in ensuring the overall protection of public health. Therefore, planning for a safe return to work should assume that those able to work from home will continue to do so. Organisations should plan for the minimum number of people needed on site to operate safely and effectively, with a phased return necessary for many businesses. Home-working should be the default, where possible.

Pilot measures 

As implementing new enhanced safety measures may take time to embed it is good practice to pilot measures, either within part of a facility and / or with a proportion of the workforce at lower risk from the virus, before rolling out across the workplace as a whole. Travel to work and childcare considerations for individual workers should be taken into account by organisations, in discussion with trade unions or worker representatives, before deciding which individuals to involve in pilots and a phased restart.

Worker health and well-being 

Employers should ensure the organisation culture is inclusive, with the aim that every worker should feel that they are returning to a supportive, caring and safe environment. The pandemic has had an unequal impact across the workforce, as different worker groups, and individuals, will have been affected in diverse ways according to factors such as their job role, and demographic/personal circumstances. Therefore, it is important organisations foster a fair and inclusive working environment that does not tolerate discrimination. There is also a risk of victimisation of those infected, suspected, or more at risk from COVID-19 which should be addressed. 

The following guides from the HSE provide useful sources of information:

Pay for workers who are sheltering, self-isolating, sick or balancing care responsibilities is likely to be a source of concern for workers. Organisations should follow the advice in the COVID-19: Fair work statement.  It states that no worker should be financially penalised by their organisation for following medical advice, and any absence from work relating to COVID-19 should not affect future sick pay entitlement, result in disciplinary action or count towards any future sickness absence related action. This statement applies to workers who are sick or self-isolating under the Test and Protect strategy. 

Organisations should also acknowledge the range of factors likely to cause stress or anxiety amongst organisations. These range from living with lockdown arrangements to concerns about travel, schools, caring responsibilities and relatives impacted by the virus, amongst others. This may have implications for mental health with managers encouraged to be conscious of how these factors may impact on the well-being of individual staff members. Organisations and trade union or workforce representatives should be alert to this and direct anyone experiencing mental health issues towards available support. 

An individual risk assessment guidance and tool has been developed to help staff and managers consider the specific risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. It is relevant to all staff, but will be particularly relevant to those who are returning to work after shielding, those who are returning to normal duties after COVID-19 related restrictions, those who are returning to the workplace after working from home or anyone who has a concern about a particular vulnerability to COVID-19.

Equalities

There are other issues that employers need to consider to ensure workplaces are inclusive. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Scotland can provide advice on a range of issues such as:

EHRC have also produced guidance for public sector employers about equality impact assessments and having due regard to the Public Sector Equality Duty and Scottish Specific Duties during the pandemic.

Close the Gap, through their ‘Think Business Think Equality’ toolkit, have produced guidance on employers supporting employees affected by domestic abuse during the pandemic and a more general online self-assessment resource for employers on domestic abuse. The RNIB also provide information on employing partially sighted and blind workers during COVID, and a COVID risk assessment tool.

Test and Protect, Scotland’s approach to implementing the 'test, trace, isolate, support' strategy is a public health measure designed to break chains of transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community.

The NHS will test people who have symptoms, trace people who may have become infected by spending time in close contact with someone who tests positive, and then support those close contacts to self-isolate.

That means if they have the virus they are less likely to pass it on to others.

Organisations will play a vital role in ensuring that their workers are aware of and able to follow the public health advice. Organisations should keep a record of name, date, time and a mobile number or email address for all staff, customers and contractors and of those who have been in close physical contact, including details of who is working in fixed teams, for a period of 21 days to support contact tracing in the event someone in the organisation contracts COVID-19. More information in Test and Protect – record keeping, and Test and Protect – contact tracing app sections in this document.

Organisations should follow public health guidance and Test and Protect employers guidance if a worker becomes unwell with coronavirus symptoms at work. The person should leave work to self-isolate straight away and, if possible, wear a face covering on route and avoid public transport. 

Organisations should direct workers to NHS Inform or, if they can’t get online, call 0800 028 2816, to arrange to get tested.

Until they have been tested and told if it is safe to leave home, organisations should make sure that staff do not have to, or feel that they have to, come in to work. Workers can request an isolation note through NHS Inform.

Where Infection Prevention Control measures have been utilised such as protective screen or use of PPE the contact tracer will conduct a risk assessment to identify contacts at risk. The priority is to public health in order to break the chain of transmission of COVID-19.

Organisations should follow the advice in COVID-19: Fair work statement.  It states that no worker should be financially penalised by their organisation for following medical advice, and any absence from work relating to COVID-19 should not affect future sick pay entitlement, result in disciplinary action or count towards any future sickness absence related action. This statement applies to workers who are sick or self-isolating under the Test and Protect strategy.

Organisations are encouraged to work with trade union or workforce representatives to enable individuals to work from home while self-isolating. Advice for organisations on helping staff who need to self-isolate is also available.

Planning should recognise that ongoing physical distancing measures required to reduce the spread of the virus may mean that the number of workers able to be accommodated safely in the workplace is limited. The workforce may have questions or concerns about returning to work. Organisations are encouraged to work with trade union or workforce representatives to enable individuals to work from home while self-isolating, if appropriate. If able to work from home, workers should continue to do so after a period of self-isolation has ended.

Apprentices can return to work at the same time as their co-workers. For specific concerns regarding the safe return to work for Apprentices there is information and support and Apprentices can speak to an advisor directly on 0800 917 8000.

It is important to ensure there is a functioning training infrastructure to support economic recovery and the sustainability of apprenticeship programmes. For those Training Providers and assessors that are providing continuity of contracted services for apprentices, learners and employers in the workplace during the pandemic must adhere to the applicable sectoral guidance.

Pay for workers who are sheltering, self-isolating, sick or balancing care responsibilities is likely to be a source of concern for workers.

Organisations should work with trade union or workforce representatives to provide early guidance to workforces on processes and support for individuals affected by these issues. Again opportunities to facilitate home working where feasible should be actively pursued and maintained. 

Information for people who previously had to shield

As the number of cases of Covid-19 in Scotland have fallen significantly, from 31 July we have been able to amend our advice. We have paused the advice that those who were identified as being at highest risk of the virus should shield. This means those who were shielding can go back to workplaces where they cannot work from home. Working from home and working flexibly where possible should remain the best option for people who had been shielding. Employers should support people to safely return to work and ensure they can stringently follow public health guidance around physical distancing and hygiene. An individual risk assessment guidance and tool has been developed help staff and managers consider the specific risk of COVID-19 in the workplace.

There may be the requirement to revert back to some level of shielding in the future at either a national or local level if the number of cases rise again. Those who previously had to shield will be kept informed of any relevant health advice if things do change. You can also keep up to date with the most recent advice at

Changing the workplace or venue environment to protect your workforce and the public

As a minimum we expect:

  • enhanced health and safety measures to be in place before staff are asked to return to work, including physical distancing guidance and hygiene measures, generally and at bottleneck situations
  • safe travel to work arrangements to be considered as part of a risk assessment, with any relevant adjustments adopted

Safe workplace planning and communications

It is vital steps are taken to ensure a safe working environment and related workforce and public confidence. This is best done through early, regular and ongoing engagement between organisations and trade union or workforce representatives. As it will take time to complete the necessary risk assessment, identify the relevant mitigation measures and put those measures in place, the engagement between employers, trade union or workforce representatives must be started well before a planned restart date (or ramp-up where production of essential goods or delivery of essential services have continued at less than full capacity).

It is important everyone understands the measures taken to establish the safe working environment as this is likely to have a significant impact on workforce confidence. Being and feeling safe will play an integral role in supporting a recovery of working practices.

Enhanced hygiene

Enhanced hygiene measures should be a key plank of workplace-specific measures to create a safe working environment, including for example:

  • sanitiser and hand-washing facilities at key points, including on entry and exit points
  • additional sanitiser and handwash facilities around communal areas
  • regular cleaning of work equipment and workstations including considering how often and where deep cleans may be required
  • minimising the use of touchpoints throughout buildings, including exploring where possible how digital processes or systems may replace the need for face-to-face discussion 

Physical distancing

Physical distancing is the other key plank of workplace-specific measures to create a safe working environment.

Factors organisations will want to consider include:

  • facility layout and signage with clear marking of 2 metre boundaries around the workplace or venue and workstations and signage which reinforces expectations of workers at relevant points. (As English may not be the first language for everyone, organisations should consider how best to use visual material to reinforce messages)
  • limiting access to parts of the workplace or venue required by an individual to do their job as this will limit the chances for interaction with others
  • staggering entry and exit times to prevent bottlenecks arising as people arrive or leave
  • staggering break times and adjusting canteen arrangements to reduce opportunities for larger numbers of staff to interact on a face to face basis
  • splitting the workforce into specific teams to avoid cross-team contamination and provide a level of operational resilience in case someone in one team develops COVID-19 symptoms
  • considering opportunities to introduce additional technology support and systems to assist in managing the safe working practices and in particular physical distancing
  • wearing of face coverings is mandatory in communal workplace areas, such as corridors, canteens and social spaces unless you are exempt for health, disability or other reasons

Shift patterns

Organisations may develop plans to change shift patterns to both protect the workforce and optimise productive capacity. This could include considering opportunities to reduce the need for travel at peak times and opportunities for flexible working patterns. This will require proper negotiation with trade union or workforce representatives if it involves a change in worker terms and conditions.    

Dealing with emergencies 

Protocols for dealing with emergencies, evacuations and accidents will be impacted by the need to maintain physical distancing while individuals who would normally lead or coordinate site responses in such situations may be amongst those working from home. Emergency, evacuation and accident response processes therefore need to be considered to ensure effective arrangements are still in place. Everyone onsite should be familiar with new processes.

Consideration should be given to how any new visitor circulation measures will affect exiting the building; how physical distancing can be maintained at assembly points; and sanitising facilities for re-entry.

Travel to work and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Health Protection Scotland (HPS) have provided COVID-19 information and guidance for general (non-healthcare) settings which reiterates that people should not travel if they exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms. The HPS advice and any subsequent safe travelling advice should be factored into an organisation’s decisions on planned returns to work.

Transport Scotland have produced Guidance to assist the public to travel safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is important that the latest version of the Guidance is read.

The HPS guidance also offers advice on the use of PPE, confirming workplaces should use PPE consistent with local policies and in line with measures justified by a risk assessment. Both the Scottish Government and the HSE recommend a risk based approach focused on a hierarchy of control which seeks to eliminate risks, combat risks at source, adapt workplaces to individual needs, ensure adequate staff training around processes to manage the risk and then use PPE where required. Where PPE is deemed necessary, an adequate supply and quality must be maintained which is provided free of charge to workers and which must fit properly.

Security

The interpretation and use of any guidance should be considered in line with normal protective security operations and practices. Organisations should consult with and involve their security departments in the interpretation and implementation of the guidance. In particular, security should be considered in any revised risk assessment.

We do not advise the removal or alteration of, or reduction in, existing protective security measures without providing clear recommendations (e.g. from the National Technical Authority/police CT specialists) on how to maintain effective protective security. 

This should extend to measures not primarily intended to provide a protective security benefit, but nonetheless doing so, for example removal of street furniture that could make moving or queueing pedestrians more vulnerable to vehicle-as-a-weapon attacks. Security staff should remain focused on security duties. Where COVID-19 creates additional staffing requirements, e.g. for queue management, employers should ensure additional suitable staff resource is made available. Employers should ensure security staff feel safe, e.g. having access to appropriate PPE and hand-washing facilities, and that they are able and confident to raise any concerns.

Read further detailed guidance on security:

www.cpni.gov.uk/staying-secure-during-covid-19-0

www.gov.uk/government/organisations/national-counter-terrorism-security-office

COVID symptoms within the workplace

The virus is expected to remain in the population for some time, even after lockdown restrictions have been eased and people begin to return to work. This will cause anxiety for people who will also want to understand how any outbreaks in the workplace will be handled. As part of risk assessments organisations should explore with trade union or workforce representatives how to respond should anyone develop symptoms while at work, including whether it is possible to identify any particular parts of the site the individual may have accessed or equipment used while symptomatic. As part of this consideration should be given how best to monitor health of all individuals in a workplace.

The Scottish Government does not recommend the use of temperature checking employees as a means of testing for COVID-19 due to the low efficacy rate of this method.  Further information about the reliability of temperature checking as a test for COVID-19 can be found on the MHRA website.

Workers have a responsibility to ensure they adhere to overall COVID-19 advice which says people with symptoms should remain at home and self-isolate. Organisations and workers should remain in regular communication throughout any period of self-isolation with organisations encouraged to work with trade union or workforce representatives to enable individuals to work from home while self-isolating if appropriate.

Outbreak management

Organisations should suspect an outbreak if there is either:

  • two or more linked cases (confirmed or suspected) of COVID-19 in a setting within 14 days - where cross transmission has been identified; or
  • an increase in staff absence rates, in a setting, due to suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19

If an organisation suspects a COVID-19 outbreak, they should immediately inform their local NHS board Health Protection Team (HPT). The organisation may be then contacted by them, as they may get information from NHS Test & Protect or other sources.

In the event of an outbreak:

  • continue to follow the existing protection and control measures contained within this guidance
  • the local Health Protection Team will undertake a risk assessment and conduct a rapid investigation. They will advise on the most appropriate action to take.
  • staff who have had close contact with case(s) will be asked to self-isolate at home. In some cases, a larger number of other staff may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure. Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, the local Health Protection Team will take this into account in determining whether closure of the whole setting will be necessary.
  • depending on the risk assessment outcome, the Health Protection Team may establish an Incident Management Team (IMT) to help manage the situation
  • the Incident Management Team will lead the Public Health response and investigations, and work with the organisation to put appropriate interventions in place

To control an outbreak the Health Protection Team and Incident Management Team will work with the organisation to put appropriate interventions in place. These will generally include ensuring that the preventive measures described in this document to prevent spread of COVID-19 are fully implemented. Other measures may include:

  • cleaning in the setting: for cleaning and waste management, refer to guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare settings for maintaining hygiene
  • consider wider testing of affected population and staff:
  • information: ensure that staff (and other relevant people) are aware of what has happened and the actions being taken
  • closure: may be done following advice from the Health Protection Team and Incident Management Team or the business may make their own decision on closure ahead of this advice as a precaution or for business continuity reasons

The Health Protection Team or Incident Management Team will declare when the outbreak is over.

Safe home working

Home working will be new to many and may have been implemented at pace, without normal health and safety planning to ensure people have suitable working arrangements and equipment. Organisations should consider that, and how to best support working from home (for example, provision of laptops, mobile phones, video conferencing services etc).

Read further advice on home working.


First published: 9 Oct 2020 Last updated: 16 Oct 2020 -