On 16 November 2021, we published an updated Strategic Framework setting out our latest approach to managing the pandemic. A further iteration of the Strategic Framework is under development and will be published in due course.
Following the arrival of the Omicron variant, the law changed so that from 17 December 2021, businesses, places of worship and service providers are required to take reasonable measures and to have regard to guidance issued by Scottish Ministers about measures to minimise risk of exposure to coronavirus within their premises, business or services.
While protective measures for hospitality, events and leisure have been removed throughout January 2022 as the immediate challenges posed by COVID-19 subsided, the reasonable measures remain in place.
From 31 January 2022, we encourage employers to consider the implementation of a hybrid approach to working – with workers spending some time in the office and some time at home where that can be done safely. It is recognised that homeworking still remains one of the most effective protections against the virus and for maintaining business resilience. Employers are encouraged to follow the advice in the COVID-19: Fair work statement. Employees with no union representation can seek advice and assistance from the STUC and Scottish Hazards. For further information please refer to the safer offices guidance.
Businesses must still take precautionary measures to protect against transmission of the virus. These may include measures around face coverings, physical distancing, ventilation, and respiratory hygiene.
We will continue to review this position regularly.
This guidance also sets out our expectations for organisations across five key areas. Organisations need to consider these to ensure premises are safe and the transmission of COVID-19 is minimised:
- risk assessment - involving the workforce in a risk based approach
- planning and support - supporting those who should come to work, and those who should not
- operational guide and checklist - changing the environment to protect staff
- deliveries, distribution and visitors - protecting staff and those who come on-site
The guidance emphasises the importance of undertaking robust and regular risk assessments with full input from trade unions or representatives, and to keep all risk mitigation measures under regular review.
After a risk assessment has been undertaken and measures to reduce the risk of transmission have been put in place, staff and their managers should use the Individual Risk Assessment tool, which uses factors including age, ethnicity, in addition to underlying health conditions to stratify risk.
Guidance will be reviewed on a regular basis in line with our priority to contain the spread of the virus, save lives and safeguard the NHS.
This document offers guidance only and does not amount to legal advice. Individual organisations may wish to seek their own advice to ensure compliance with all legal requirements.
As each organisation is different, individual organisations should work with trade union or workforce representatives to determine how best to apply this guidance in practice.