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Is your licensed premises ready to re-open safely?

Is your licensed premises ready to re-open safely?

With lockdown measures being further eased and pubs and restaurants set to reopen early July, pub landlords and restaurant owners will no doubt be working around the clock to ensure that their premise is a safe place for both staff and customers come the grand re-opening.  

Here, Lynn Collins, Head of HR Services at Spencers Solicitors, shares some tips and advice on how licensed premises can re-open safely this weekend. 

The hospitality industry in no different to any other when it comes to Health and Safety responsibilities, in fact you could argue that it is all the more important to keep an eye on health and safety procedures, particularly where many people on site are likely to be under the influence of alcohol.

Getting it right before opening the floodgates involves planning, understanding and assessing the potential risks in the workplace, taking measures to reduce where possible, and consulting staff.

Here are some key responsibilities licensed premises need to get in place to ensure the safety of staff and customers:  

  • Provide a safe workplace
  • Write a safety policy
  • Train staff
  • Provide safe systems of work
  • Maintain entrance and exit routes
  • Maintain safety of work equipment
  • Control the use of hazardous chemicals
  • Consider the safety of all persons coming into your premises

In addition, consideration of how staff are getting to and from work, where they store their personal belongings, and where they will get changed and wash their uniforms, if applicable. Staff could be encouraged to change on site, but only where social distancing is achievable.

As a bare minimum, the latest government guidance on sector specific safety measures should be followed; providing handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser for both staff and customers, and where food and drink is being served, provision of face masks, gloves and aprons, if needed, is essential.

As with all change, communication with staff should the main priority- bringing staff back from furlough after a long period off work might prove challenging, and doing this gradually might help to ease them back in. Managers should consider inducting them back into the workplace, employees have likened the pending return as feeling almost like returning from maternity leave, or a career break, so it is essential to ensure that they are brought up to speed and retrained where necessary on changes to processes/ systems, why they are in place and any changes to expectations.

If you are in the unfortunate position of staff not wanting to return to work, despite all safety measures being in place, this could amount to unauthorised absence- having an open and frank conversation and trying to alleviate any concerns should be able to resolve the situation, however staff have a responsibility to be open and honest with employers to ensure that informed decisions can be made on how to proceed.

Finally, it is important that people who are not able to return to work due to falling into the vulnerable group or who has a health condition that places them at a higher risk of contracting COVID- 19 than other employees are not forced back to work.

Employees have a right to not be dismissed or treated detrimentally for refusing to return to work if safety cannot be guaranteed in the workplace.


COVID-19 Business Support Hub

These are challenging times for business and although our ethos is to only shout about good news, we've created COVID-19 Business Support Hub on the Love Business the website to support you with expert tips, advice and ideas from your fellow businesses to help you get through this COVID-19 crisis. 

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