In line with Scottish Government guidance, from Tuesday 05 January mainland Scotland moved from Level 4 to a temporary Lockdown, with new guidance to stay at home except for essential purposes.
As such, employees who are able to work from home should continue to do so. If employees have returned to work but can work from home, they should arrange to work from home immediately.
Individual Coronavirus (COVID-19) risk assessment
Managers are responsible for ensuring that an Individual COVID-19 risk assessment is carried out for all pregnant employees, including casual workers. This is in addition to the normal pregnant worker's risk assessment which should be undertaken in all circumstances.
In all cases, pregnant employees must be referred to OH to inform the risk assessment process as soon as they tell their line manager they are pregnant. An OH referral must be done again at 28 weeks to ensure the ongoing safety of employees. In most cases OH will organise this if an earlier referral has been done.
This information should then be used by the line manager to form the basis for a discussion on:
- general measures which will be, or have been, put in place in the workplace to ensure the safety of all employees considering Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- any issues from the Government tool and how these could be addressed (including, for example, any concerns the employee may have about returning to work, whether a referral to OH may be required)
- application of the guidance linked to the current protection level both in the Falkirk area and in the employee's home area (if different)
- any specific arrangements needed to support a return to the workplace at an appropriate time.
This information should then be recorded on the Individual COVID-19 risk assessment form and implemented as appropriate.
- COVID-19 Individual risk assessment
Managers should aim to complete individual risk assessments for employees working from home, so they are available to refer to when employees eventually return to the workplace. However, if there is any significant delay between the completion of the risk assessment and the employee's return, the assessment should be reviewed and updated as required prior to a return to the workplace. The review should also take account of any subsequent change in the protection level within the Falkirk area or the employee's home area.
No pregnant employee should physically return to the workplace until a risk assessment has been completed.
Risk assessment outcome
Returning to work
All employees should work from home where this is possible. There will however be roles where this is not possible. In such cases, if the individual risk assessment (taking account of OH advice) identifies that it is safe for the employee to return to the workplace in some capacity, it is anticipated that they will do so unless their GP considers them to be unfit.
If the outcome of their Individual Coronavirus (COVID-19) risk assessment is that the employee can safely return to work, arrangements should be made to support them to return as soon as possible. If an employee remains concerned about returning, then the following steps should be taken as appropriate.
- If an employee is a member of a Trade Union, offer a further meeting with their TU representative present and suggest they also seek support from their union to help them work through their concerns, with a view to agreeing a return to work. Where an employee is not a trade union member, another meeting may still be beneficial in allowing the employee to discuss their concerns further.
- Seek further OH advice (if required) on the employee's concerns and review the risk assessment as appropriate in consultation with the employee (and their TU representative where appropriate).
- Encourage the employee to seek support from their GP. This may be particularly helpful in cases where the employee advises the situation is causing them to feel stressed or anxious or if there appear to be multiple factors causing them to be concerned about returning to work. In such circumstances the employee should check if their GP considers them to be fit to work and if not, they should be asked to self-certificate/ provide a fit note to cover their absence. If the employee has difficulty obtaining a fit note, seek advice from your Service HR adviser.
- HR/Health & Safety advice should be taken if the employee feels the workplace is unsafe to return to.
- In line with OH advice, determine if a temporary redeployment opportunity exists which would address the employee's concerns. Any such arrangement would need to be kept under review to take account of changing service needs and the outcome of reviews of the employee's Individual Covid-19 risk assessment.
If the outcome of the risk assessment is that a pregnant employee cannot safely attend the workplace in any capacity, and they cannot work from home, they should be granted special leave. Managers should ensure that MyView is updated accordingly and that this arrangement is kept under review to determine if any further opportunities for working safely arise.
Where a pregnant employee is unable to work from the date 4 weeks before their baby is due for reasons linked with their pregnancy, their maternity leave will be triggered at this point.
Review of Individual risk assessments
Managers should ensure that all Individual risk assessments are kept under review in consultation with employees and updated as required. This may, for example, take account of the following:
- Changes to the Government's occupational risk assessment tool: The tool has changed on several occasions since it was first launched. This link should be used to ensure that the current version of the tool is being used.
- Changes in COVID-19 protection levels: Employees should notify their manager if the COVID-19 protection level within their home area changes. Similarly, if the COVID-19 protection level within the Falkirk area changes the risk assessment may need to be reviewed (as noted at Risk Assessment Outcome above).
- Changes in operations or lessons learned: from implementing revised arrangements within the workplace.
- Return to workplace: if there has been a delay in the completion of the risk assessment to the return to work date, then the risk assessment should be reviewed.
- Outcome of OH review: at 28th week of pregnancy and at any other point that OH advice is sought during the pregnancy.
All completed Individual risk assessments should be uploaded to MyView for future reference. These should be saved under the "Absence – COVID-19 Risk Assessment" category with the name RA (date).