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PROSPER MAGAZINE: SPECIAL DIGITAL EDITION

BUSINESS IS DONE BETTER TOGETHER

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CHAMBER CHAMPIONS VIRTUAL VE DAY FESTIVAL 

As the country commemorated the 75th anniversary of VE Day, with stay-at-home garden parties, the team at the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber Military Network supported the Tri-service museums' Virtual VE Day 75 Festival.

 

In a way that the British do so well, the three museums of the Armed Forces kept calm and carried on with their Virtual VE Day 75 Festival, which replaced their individual pre-COVID-19 ambitions for marking the important anniversary. The service museums encouraged members of the public to come together, while staying at home, in conjunction with the government's communication to "stay home and save lives".

 

The Black Country Chamber lead on the national Chamber Military Network, an initiative which supports Chambers of Commerce across the country and their members, to embrace and advocate the Armed Forces Covenant to make a positive impact on the local economy and business, supported the three historical institutions of the British Armed Forces; the Royal Navy, Army and Air Force.

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COMING OUT OF LOCKDOWN AND RETURNING TO WORK

In recent weeks, business leaders have been demanding clear guidance from the Government, and for answers to the "practical questions", to help the UK begin emerging from its coronavirus lockdown.

The Government responded earlier this month with their 50-page plan to exit the lockdown, announced with additional guidance on working safely through the pandemic.

Corin Crane, Black Country Chamber Chief Executive, had called on the Government to deliver a more detailed plan for the phased easing of restrictions and further information on financial support schemes.

Mr Crane said it was imperative the Government laid out a more detailed "road map" to help businesses plan their futures with some certainty, business leaders have been crying out for further information for the phased easing of the restrictions, coordinated across the region, the UK and supported by clear guidance.

Reacting to the Government's plans, he said, "This marks the first glimmer of light for our faltering economy, a phased and careful return to work is the only way to protect jobs and pay for future public services.

"Success will rest on flexibility within a framework; clear guidance which firms can adapt for their particular circumstances.

"However, businesses still need further clarity on what 'Covid-19 Secure' looks like, but this guidance does help businesses to plan and prepare their workforce for a return to work.

"The coming weeks should see business, the Government and employee representatives working together as part of a national effort built on openness and trust", continued Mr Crane.

"This is the only way to revive the UK economy and protect both lives and livelihoods, we all share the Prime Minister's ambition to see more people return safely to work over the coming weeks.

"Companies will do everything they can to protect employees and customers, maintain social distancing and operate successfully as more sections of the economy are permitted to reopen.

He continued, "The Chancellor's announcement last week to continue financial support, in the way of extending the furlough scheme, will need to evolve for sectors moving at different speeds – some remaining in hibernation, while others get ready to open safely.

"The timing of further easing of restrictions must be guided by the public health evidence, but businesses needed their practical questions answered so they can plan to restart."

Prosper asked the team at law firm, Higgs & Sons, to give an insight into the Government's guidance.

With attention turning to the roadmap out of lockdown following Boris Johnson's announcement on 10 May 2020, employers must take steps to prepare for their workforce returning to the workplace.

RETURN TO WORKPLACE GUIDANCE

 

Any employee that cannot work from home is now being actively encouraged to return to work. To assist employers, employees and the self-employed the Government published eight guides on how to work safely during the coronavirus in different workplaces.

 

While the guides differ due to the unique issues faced by the different types of workplaces, a "Five Steps to Safer Working Together" notice is contained in each guide. Employers are told to display the notice in the workplace to show the guidance has been followed. The five steps outlined are:

 

  1. Complete a COVID-19 risk assessment and share the results with the people who work there.

  1. Ensure cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures are in place.

  2. Working from home has been encouraged and reasonable steps have been taken to facilitate this.

  3. Take all reasonable steps to maintain a two-metre distance in the workplace.

  4. If people cannot be two metres apart, manage the transmission risk by taking every practical step.

 

Employers are encouraged to review the guide relating to their sector before completing these steps. Even if the guidance is followed, employers should be mindful of employees who are unable or unwilling to return to the workplace. Employers should offer support to employees and ensure they listen to any concerns they may have about returning to work, being mindful of preserving employee relations and the possibility of discrimination or constructive dismissal claims if not dealt with correctly.

 

Meanwhile, the Chamber has produced a briefing document which outlines the new guidance for employers on how to implement social distancing measures, with eight separate documents published for various business sectors which can now reopen: Guidance on Working Safely Through COVID-19.

 

ACCESS THE DOCUMENTS HERE

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