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Compliance news 09/20 – Working safely during Covid-19, in the office and other people’s homes.

As a number of occupations start to return to their usual place of work, the intention of this communication is to help you understand how to work safely during the Covid-19 pandemic by providing a practical framework to think about.

The guidance issued here is correct at the date of issue, 21st May 2020, and any future changes will be as a direct result of Government updates which will be regularly checked at www.gov.uk/workingsafely

Our Key Message.

Our guidance remains that where possible we should all be working from home and socially distancing ourselves from those outside of our immediate household.  Administrative work should still be carried out in your home, and any meetings or client appointments should be conducted using the telephone or a form of video conferencing, for instance, zoom. However, where a client insists on a face-to-face appointment then please see our guidance further down this document (section Client Appointments).

Please continue to follow Government guidance by taking the following preventative measures:

1.     Washing your hands more often than usual for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose.

2.     Reducing the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue in the bin immediately, then wash your hands.

3.     Cleaning regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

4.     Maintaining social distancing with everyone outside of your immediate household.

It is important that you follow this Government guidance so that these actions become a habit for when you return to your usual place of work, i.e. an office or a client’s home.

If you show any symptoms of the coronavirus, or if you have recently been in contact with someone who has, then you must inform your Line Manager and you should stay at home, in accordance with government guidelines.  Do not attempt to go to any place of work outside of your own home.

Clinically Vulnerable Individuals.

Firstly, if you are a member of staff, or an Adviser, who has received an NHS letter categorising you as clinically vulnerable, and thus you have specific ‘stay at home’ instructions, you must inform of us this by emailing a copy of that letter to your Line Manager or T&C Supervisor.  These individuals will not be allowed into a communal office or client home, etc until the Government specifically tell you that you can.

And secondly, you must not visit the home of any client who has been assessed as needing to shield themselves. You must establish prior to any proposed face to face appointment that the client is not in that group of people.

FPG Head Office.

The office remains closed as a preventative measure and because those who frequent it can work more safely from their home.  However, despite it being closed, Dan is
co-ordinating the presence of a staff member for a part of each day for the purpose of collecting and distributing post etc.  Whilst we do not envisage the need for an Adviser or staff member to visit the office, if there is an exceptional circumstance requiring you to attend then you must inform Dan before attempting to enter the office.  This rule applies anyone holding a key to the office.

Measures have already been taken to assist with the implementation of social distancing guidelines and the mitigation of transmission of infection, and these include:

1.     Continued regular cleaning of the office.

2.     The front door to the premises to remain locked, meaning anyone wishing to enter the office will need to be let in.

3.     Notices to remind staff of the need to maintain social distancing (2 metres) wherever possible, as well as further increasing the frequency of handwashing and surface cleaning.

4.     The availability of preventative equipment such as hand sanitisers and wipes.

5.     Using screens to separate desks, or using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) wherever possible.

6.     Reducing the number of people each person has contact with by limiting the number of persons entering the office, as well as implementing fixed-partnering (so each person works with only the same few others)

7.     Having a system to ensure only one person is using the corridor, stairwell or communal kitchen area at any one time.

8.     Allocated seating at a designated desk for each person, as hot-desking will not be permitted.

9.     Disposable face masks will be made available to employees, for those who request them.  But it will not be mandatory to wear face masks or any other PPE in our office.

Further safety measures to the office will be made, as required before the office formally re-opens.

At this stage, there are no plans to allow any guests/clients into the office.

Other Usual Places of Work.

Where you normally travel to another office, so perhaps an estate agency Introducer office, then you should check that their measures to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 are adequate.

Where you manage an office where you have administrative staff present, and you require guidance, then please contact Pete or Dan.

Travelling to Work.

Where you do need to travel to an office to work, then please either walk, cycle or use your own transport.  Please avoid using public transport.  If public transport is your only mode of transport then please discuss this with your Line Manager before attempting the journey.  Also, please do not car share.

Wash your hands on entering the office, and also at the end of the day on leaving.

Client Appointments.

Wherever possible, you should continue to conduct client meetings remotely, for instance using the telephone or zoom.  However, where you have a client who is insistent on a face-to-face meeting in their home, or at an office, for example, an estate agent introducer premises, then please follow this guidance.

Firstly, you can, of course, decline the meeting.  Where the client is insistent and you do not wish to comply, then please speak with your Sales Manager and we will endeavour to refer the client to another Adviser who is willing.

But secondly, where you do agree to the appointment, then:

1.     When booking the appointment, and also immediately before the appointment, check that the household is not isolating because one or more family members has symptoms or where an individual has been advised to shield.

2.     Also, prior to arrival, and on arrival, please also check that the client understands the social distancing and hygiene measures that should be followed.

3.     If the meeting is at their home, then wherever possible, suggest or agree to the meeting being in an open space, such as a garden.

4.     Sanitise your hands before the appointment.

5.     Do not attempt physical contact with the client, for instance shaking hands.

6.     Maintain a socially distant 2 metres with the client, at all times.

7.     Ask that any internal doors be left open to minimise the surfaces you need to touch.

8.     Have your own bottled drink, and do not accept/offer the client a drink.

9.     Do not share a pen or any other objects, to further avoid transmission.

10.  Sanitise your hands on immediately ending the client appointment.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and face coverings.

Currently, the government are advising that we should not encourage the precautionary use of PPE to protect against Covid-19.  However, where you choose to wear such equipment, then you should warn the client that you are doing this and explain to them that it is merely a precautionary measure to limit any potential transmission.

Further Information.

This communication is based upon our interpretation of current government guidance.  Any measures that you personally implement may well be more cautious than this.  Foremost, you should endeavour to keep yourself safe at all times and use your own judgement to achieve this.

For further information please refer to the government website, or speak with Dan or Pete.

Thanks

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