Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): creating and maintaining safer workplaces

Guidance for workers and employers on returning to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): creating and maintaining safer workplaces


Since midnight on the 4 January, mainland Scotland entered into lockdown. This was reviewed by Cabinet on 2 February and it was decided to extend the current restrictions, which will now remain in place across mainland Scotland and some island communities until at least the end of February.

On February 23, the First Minister announced that the updated Strategic Framework sets out how we will seek to accelerate the easing of restrictions to restore, on a phased basis, greater normality. If  progress in suppressing the virus and vaccinating key groups remains on track, we will move fully back to a levels system from the last week in April.

During Lockdown anyone who is able to work from home, must do so. Please see guidance regarding support available for children of keyworkers.

As outlined in our route map we have and continue to take an evidence-led transparent and phased approach to Scotland’s economic restart and recovery. This is built around three pillars:

  • successful measures to suppress the virus
  • guidance that promotes Fair and Safe workplaces and sectors
  • the right structures for workplace regulation

The objective of Scotland's Strategic Framework is to set out a sustainable response to the pandemic to be implemented until either a vaccine or highly effective treatments to the virus are developed. The Framework covers the four key harms of the virus, how we will work to suppress the virus, and sets out our proposal to move to a strategic approach to outbreak management based on five levels of protection.

The postcode checker can be used to check a local COVID protection level.  The protection level tells you what you can and cannot do in that area.  COVID protection levels are subject to regular review.

In this public health crisis, it is vital that all businesses act responsibly and align fully with published guidance.  Workplace guidance is underpinned by:

  • 2 metres physical distancing
  • good ventilation
  • the wearing of face coverings
  • effective hand and respiratory hygiene
  • appropriate risk assessment
  • supporting staff to self-isolate
  • supporting working from home and flexible working where possible

People can travel across COVID Protection levels for the purpose of work, though  working from home is default position across all Protection levels for those who can.  See travel restrictions for further information about travelling around Scotland.

In Levels 3 and 4 restrictions and closures apply. Further information on workplaces that must close and workplaces that can remain open with working from home the default position can be found at COVID-19 Level 4; this includes information on those workplaces supporting Critical National Infrastructure.

We recognise this continues to be a testing time for business in Scotland.  We are grateful to the many companies that continue to act responsibly in our shared ambition to create safer workplaces for all.  There is a range of business support available for businesses which are affected by the measures in the strategic framework.

First published: 15 Dec 2020 Last updated: 22 Apr 2021 -