Where we are now
This guidance refers to the current Scottish Government position during Phase 3 and will be updated as we move through future phases, based on public health advice. The most recent coronavirus related developments can be found on the Coronavirus in Scotland webpage.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making – Scotland’s route map through and out of the crisis, was published on 21 May and sets out the phases by which we plan to ease lockdown. They will be gradual and incremental and will be matched with careful monitoring of the virus.
Until it is deemed safe for workplaces to reopen, working from home and working flexibly will remain the default – if organisations have largely managed to have their staff working from home effectively during the pandemic, they should continue to do so wherever possible. In short, employers should continue to maximise homeworking in their organisations. This is the Scottish Government’s position and will continue to be when we move into Phase 4 of the Route Map.
Inevitably, opening parts of our economy and society has provided new opportunities for the virus to spread and the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Scotland’s Strategic Framework was published on 23 October 2020, setting out how we will work to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level and keep it there, while we strive to return to a more normal life for as many people as possible and tackle the four harms we know the virus causes.
This framework sets out the new approach to outbreak management based on five levels of protection consisting of four levels above the Route Map Phase 3 baseline (or 'Level 0'). Specific advice at each level on the working from home position for offices and call centres and other workplaces is provided within the protection levels framework
We need strong employer and sectoral support on homeworking to help drive Scotland's economic recovery and continue to mitigate the transmission of the virus. The approach that many organisations have taken to homeworking has been to implement it quickly, as an immediate response to the pandemic. Many employers have indicated that they intend to retain elements of homeworking, on a permanent basis.
This guidance document can be used to supplement and aid employers considerations for longer term adoption of homeworking policies, however any permanent change in an employee’s place of work should be subject to the appropriate processes and engagement with workers and their representatives.
We are working with the UK Government to align our approach and guidance where possible, and our approach must also be clearly based on scientific evidence on the levels of infection in Scotland. Readers will recognise consistent themes within this guidance with the UK Government’s Working Safely during COVID-19 publications.