Up Close and Personal

Up Close and Personal

Most of the last two days have been spent dealing with enquiries from employers who are getting increasingly frustrated with staff who flout the Covid rules. From staff who refuse to go through temperature testing when they’re working with vulnerable people, people who are not vulnerable but refuse to come to work, through to people who test positive for Covid and then come to work, it’s been a mixed bag.

One of my clients who has gone to enormous lengths to ensure a safe workplace sent me the following query.

We have done OK with staff through Covid, until recently when a minority have started causing some issues. Six staff are currently isolating due to being in close contact with another member of staff who tested positive. They have therefore not followed our risk assessment which is shared and emphasised through our staff guide, signs around the building and regularly discussed in meetings.

1 Isolating
Thursday 07.01.2021 – Sunday 17.01.2021
Back Mon 18.01.2021

Sat opposite in break room on Thursday at lunch time – may be less than 2m

2 Isolating
Thursday 07.01.2021 – Sunday 17.01.2021
Back Mon 18.01.2021

Face to face conversation on Thursday within 1m

3 Isolating
Thursday 07.01.2021 – Sunday 17.01.2021

Helped over shoulder with lap top

Back Mon 18.01.2021

4 Isolating
Wednesday 06.01.2021 – Saturday 16.01.2021
Back Mon 18.01.2021

Bubble Meeting after work – shared laptop and phone – within 1-2 m for more than 15 minutes
Wed 06.01.2021

5 Isolating
Wednesday  06.01.2021 – Saturday 16.01.2021
Back Mon 18.01.2021

Bubble Meeting after work
He was standing close to 4 – walking around, but close for some time.
Wed 06.01.2021

6 Isolating
Thursday 07.01.2021 – Sunday 17.01.2021
Back Mon 18.01.2021

In food room – he was within 1m waiting to use the kettle

We will do their return to work virtually:

  • To confirm that they understand the risk assessment.
  •  To say that clients (or the press) finding out this info would risk the reputation of the business.
  • To say that it caused issues to the effective running of the business as while we were working on a plan to allow more home working for staff, we had to move to this in a rushed manner.
  • To say that any further breaches of social distancing would result in disciplinary action.
  • to ask what support they need.

What would your advice be?

My response ….

I completely agree they need a bit of a talking to and I would set it out as follows.

Hold a meeting which is minuted and send a follow up letter. Be clear and very serious. Cover the following points:

This behaviour is disappointing. You have to treat the matter seriously. By doing what you did you put lives at risk.

We all agree it is disappointing that the problem with the Covid continues. One of the reasons it continues is because people continue to allow it to do so by creating hosts. That is what you did by getting too close. You allowed it to pass to another host.

The problem is not with the system but by the application of the system. You failed to follow the rules.

I have gone to great lengths to make the workplace safe. I want to be quite sure in my mind that you understand fully and precisely what is required of you. Talk me through the rules … (and get them to spell it out). Excellent. You know what is required. Now – will you give me your solemn commitment that you will adhere to these rules 100% every day until I advise that we can relax them?

I have to make it clear that if you breach the rules again, I will treat the matter formally. Putting lives at risk constitutes gross misconduct. Furthermore, your behaviour could bring the business into disrepute. This is also a matter of gross misconduct.

My duty is to advise you very clearly that if you breach these safety rules again, I reserve the right to explore matters formally through the disciplinary route. And if the case is found to be substantiated you could be dismissed without notice.

Do you understand? Do you have anything to say?

Thank you etc

This pandemic is not the time to be up close and personal with all and sundry. Hopefully this will make them realise that they have a legal and moral duty to keep their distance..


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Copyright © 2021 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.