The Government advice is constantly being updated and clarified and there is now a range of information saying you can still work, even it is not considered ‘essential’ work, if your work cannot be done from home.
Ultimately it is for you to decide, in conjunction with your customers, whether you decide to carry on working in people’s homes and gardens. The priority should always be you, your staff and your customers’ safety and all work should be done within the social distancing and Public Health England advice.
To help you decide whether you carry on working we have pulled out the relevant information from the Government site. We have also created this template letter for you to use.
In the business closure guidance issued by the Government (read it here) it outlines:
Work carried out in people’s homes
Work carried out in people’s homes, for example by tradespeople carrying out repairs and maintenance, can continue, provided that the tradesperson is well and has no symptoms.
Again, it will be important to ensure that Public Health England guidelines, including maintaining a two-metre distance from any household occupants, are followed to ensure everyone’s safety.
No work should be carried out in any household which is isolating or where an individual is being shielded, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so. In such cases, Public Health England can provide advice to tradespeople and households.
No work should be carried out by a tradesperson who has coronavirus symptoms, however mild.
For more information, see guidance published 23 March 2020.
The Government has also made it clear in its social distancing advice that work can carry on provided people stick to the social distancing advice from Public Health England.
With the exception of the organisations covered above in the section on closing certain businesses and venues, the government has not required any other businesses to close – indeed it is important for business to carry on.
Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.
Sometimes this will not be possible, as not everyone can work from home. Certain jobs require people to travel to, from and for their work – for instance if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services.
If you cannot work from home then you can still travel for work purposes, provided you are not showing coronavirus symptoms and neither you nor any of your household are self-isolating. This is consistent with advice from the Chief Medical Officer.
You know how your business runs and how much contact you have with your customers. The priority is always to keep yourself, your staff and your customers safe and to ensure you are maintaining social distancing rules whenever you work.
Pond consultants obviously work in people’s gardens and with good communication with customers could set up systems that enable them to comply with social distancing.
It is more difficult for aquarium consultants who go into someone’s home so it is really for you to discuss with your customer. The priority must always be whether you can safeguard yours and your customer’s safety and comply with Public Health England advice here. Aquarium consultants are likely to be carrying out essential animal welfare work if you have a regular maintenance contract so this would be an important service to continue to offer.
- Should I stay at home or go to work?
You may travel for work purposes, but only where you cannot work from home. Certain jobs require people to travel to their place of work – for instance if they operate machinery, work in construction or manufacturing, or are delivering front line services such as train and bus drivers. Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working.
- I’m not a critical worker and I can’t work from home. What should I do?
If you cannot work from home then you can still travel to work. This is consistent with the Chief Medical Officer’s advice. Critical workers are those who can still take their children to school or childcare. This critical worker definition does not affect whether or not you can travel to work – if you are not a critical worker, you may still travel to work provided you cannot work from home. Anyone who has symptoms or is in a household where someone has symptoms should not go to work and should self-isolate.
- How can I find out if my work is essential or not?
The government is not saying only people doing “essential” work can go to work. Anyone who cannot work from home can still go to work. Separately, there is a list of critical workers who can still take their children to school or childcare. Provision has been prioritised for these workers. Every worker – whether critical or not – should work from home if they can but may otherwise travel to work. We have also asked certain businesses where people gather, such as pubs and most shops, to close. Separate guidance has been published on this.