Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): retail sector guidance

Guidance for the retail sector, including close contact services such as hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons, which covers procedures for staff and customer safety and an operations checklist.

Assessing risk

As a minimum we expect:

  • planning for a restart to be a joint effort between employers and employees with both parties fully contributing as part of an ongoing commitment to work together in ensuring a safe workplace 
  • a risk based approach should be followed to protect health and safety of employees and ensure the longer-term economic viability of the business, safe working practices being essential to ensure businesses can effectively restart and trade through the recovery phase 

You should make sure that the risk assessment for your business addresses the risks of COVID-19, using this guidance to inform your decisions and control measures. The outcome of the risk assessment is to identify sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace. Retailers that have been working through the COVID-19 epidemic should ensure that a dynamic risk assessment and management process is employed in line with guidance to integrate any emerging guidance to procedures.

Employers have a duty to consult employees on health and safety. Consultation should occur with full-time, part-time, contractors, shift workers, security staff and facilities and cleaning staff. You can do this by listening and talking to them about the work and how you will manage risks from COVID-19. This should be done in advance of the store re-opening. Your employees will have an in-depth knowledge of the risks in the workplace and will have a view on how to work safely. In a small business, you might choose to consult your workers directly. Larger businesses may consult through a health and safety representative, chosen by your employees or selected by a trade unionAs an employer, you cannot decide who the representative will be. This process should be a continuation of an existing process in involving employees in optimising health and safety outcomes. 

Key issues for employers

  • a full risk assessment should be undertaken in consultation with employees
  • constructively engage with employees when carrying out a risk assessment.
  • ensure the result of the risk assessment is visible and communicated to employees.
  • ensure that the actions taken as the result of the assessment do not disproportionately impact those with vulnerabilities such as people with disabilities, single parents, younger or older people and consider how to support those with additional needs to comply with physical distancing.
  • mental health of employees should be factored in to the risk assessment with signposting to employer led, government and third sector support made available to staff to manage issues such as confrontation, stress and isolation as needed.

Last updated: 26 May 2020



First published: 7 Oct 2020 Last updated: 15 Oct 2020 -