Coronavirus (COVID-19): Staying safe at work

COVID-19 spreads easily when you are in close contact with others. So if you can work from home, you should. If you cannot work from home, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading at work.

Employers

Employers should consult with their employees to determine who needs to come into the workplace. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk. This includes vulnerable people, the clinically extremely vulnerable and pregnant workers.

Advice on protecting vulnerable workers and pregnant workers can be found on the Health and Safety Executive NI (HSENI) website:

When employers consider if workers should come into their place of work, a COVID-19 workplace risk assessment will need to be completed and appropriate measures should be put in place in line with current Public Health Agency (PHA) guidelines.

The HSENI, in association with the PHA, has produced useful advice and guidance for employers regarding working safely during the coronavirus pandemic:

Employees

COVID-19 spreads easily when people are working in shared spaces and across shared surfaces, such as shared kitchens, bathrooms, door handles, refrigerators and kettles.

People who have COVID-19 can infect others from around two days before symptoms start, and for up to 10 days after.

You can pass the infection to others, even if you have no symptoms, which is why you always need to be careful at work.

What you can do to keep yourself safe

Below are some practical things you may wish to consider if you cannot work from home.

  • keep two metres apart from colleagues, customers and clients – in all circumstances where possible
  • wear a face covering when in shared spaces
  • keep windows open as much as possible
  • wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel – consider bringing a small bottle of sanitiser gel to work and keeping it in your pocket so that you can use it after touching shared surfaces
  • avoid in person meetings where possible – use phone or video conference calls if you can
  • when you’re having a break, don’t let your guard down - consider bringing in a packed lunch with you so that you don’t have to use a shared kitchen and, if you can, choose to eat somewhere you can safely social distance
  • use your own stationery, mugs and cutlery – if communal items are usually provided, you may wish to consider bringing in your own to work to avoid any possible cross contamination
  • keep your work area clear of personal belongings – it is important to keep areas clear to allow for effective cleaning
  • if possible, avoid car sharing to commute to work – walk/cycle where possible and if you can't avoid car sharing, guidance is available from the PHA website

Guidance is also available on using public transport from nidirect:

Self isolation

Detailed guidance for employees who have to self-isolate due to COVID-19 is available on the HSENI website.

The key COVID-19 symptoms for employers and employees to be aware of are:

  • a new continuous cough (this means coughing a lot for more than one hour or 3 or more coughing episodes in a 24 hour period). If they usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual; or
  • fever/high temperature considered to be 37.8 degrees Celsius or above (this means the temperature before taking any medication to reduce the temperature, such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or any other antipyretic); or
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste

It is essential that any employee who has symptoms of COVID-19 does not attend work and follows the public health advice summarised below to stay at home and self-isolate.

Furthermore, any employee in the workplace exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms while at work, should be sent home immediately to self-isolate, wear a face covering on the journey home and avoid public transport.

They will need to arrange to be tested and can book a test by visiting the PHA website or calling 119.

Details on how to act on the result of the test are available on the HSENI website.

The PHA Contact Tracing Service (CTS) will be in touch with an employee who has tested positive (the case) to identify all their Close Contacts - including those at work or in other businesses they may have visited.

If your employees have been informed by the CTS that they should isolate, as an employer you should immediately ensure they are not at work. 

They may feel well (the virus could still be incubating) or indeed for some they may not become unwell at all – however both categories must stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days. 

You can ask them to work from home if they are able to and they are not unwell.

Other instances when employees will need to self-isolate include:

  • employees must self-isolate for 10 days if they live with or are in a support bubble with someone who:
    • has symptoms of coronavirus and tested positive; had an unclear result or did not have a test; or
    • tested positive but has not had symptoms
  • self-isolation for 10 days will also apply to an employee who either:
    • gets a test, email or call from CTS telling them to self-isolate, or
    • gets an alert from the StopCOVID NI app telling them to self-isolate
  • if an employee has no symptoms but has a positive test they should isolate for 10 full days after the date of the test and If they subsequently develop symptoms during the 10 days, they must begin a new 10 day self-isolation period
  • employees who have arrived in Northern Ireland from certain countries may have to quarantine for 10 days and should not attend work during this period - further details can be found on the international travel advice page

It is important to note that employees do not require a negative COVID-19 test prior to returning to work. Employees may also be required to self-isolate on more than one occasion.

Support for employees

Detailed information on support for employees can be found at Advice NI .

Self-isolation can be difficult for individuals and impact on well-being. Advice on wellbeing while staying at home is available:

Further guidance for the workplace is available at the following links:

Share this page

What do you want to do?
What is your question about?
Do you want a reply?
Your email address
To reply to you, we need your email address
Your feedback

We will not reply to your feedback.  Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

This feedback form is for issues with the nidirect website only.

You can use it to report a problem or suggest an improvement to a webpage.

If you have a question about a government service or policy, you should contact the relevant government organisation directly as we don’t have access to information about you held by government departments.

You must be aged 13 years or older - if you’re younger, ask someone with parental responsibility to send the feedback for you.

The nidirect privacy notice applies to any information you send on this feedback form.

Don't include any personal or financial information, for example National Insurance, credit card numbers, or phone numbers.

Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum.

What to do next

Comments or queries about angling can be emailed to anglingcorrespondence@daera-ni.gov.uk 

What to do next

If you have a comment or query about benefits, you will need to contact the government department or agency which handles that benefit.  Contacts for common benefits are listed below.

Carer's Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912
Email 
dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Discretionary support / Short-term benefit advance

Call 0800 587 2750 
Email 
customerservice.unit@communities-ni.gov.uk

Disability Living Allowance

Call 0800 587 0912 
Email dcs.incomingpostteamdhc2@nissa.gsi.gov.uk

Employment and Support Allowance

Call 0800 587 1377

Jobseeker’s Allowance

Contact your local Jobs & Benefits office

Personal Independence Payment

Call 0800 587 0932

If your query is about another benefit, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

Comments or queries about the Blue Badge scheme can be emailed to bluebadges@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk or you can also call 0300 200 7818.

What to do next

For queries or advice about careers, contact the Careers Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Child Maintenance, contact the Child Maintenance Service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about claiming compensation due to a road problem, contact DFI Roads claim unit.

What to do next

For queries or advice about criminal record checks, email ani@accessni.gov.uk

What to do next

Application and payment queries can be emailed to ema_ni@slc.co.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about employment rights, contact the Labour Relations Agency.

What to do next

For queries or advice about birth, death, marriage and civil partnership certificates and research, contact the General Register Office Northern Ireland (GRONI) by email gro_nisra@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries about:

If your query is about another topic, select ‘Other’ from the drop-down menu above.

What to do next

For queries or advice about passports, contact HM Passport Office.

What to do next

For queries or advice about Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs), including parking tickets and bus lane PCNs, email dcu@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about pensions, contact the Northern Ireland Pension Centre.

What to do next

If you wish to report a problem with a road or street you can do so online in this section.

If you wish to check on a problem or fault you have already reported, contact DfI Roads.

What to do next

For queries or advice about historical, social or cultural records relating to Northern Ireland, use the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) enquiry service.

What to do next

For queries or advice about rates, email:
rating@lpsni.gov.uk

For queries or advice about property valuation, email:
valuation@lpsni.gov.uk

For queries or advice about land registry, email:
CustomerInformation.LandRegistration@finance-ni.gov.uk

For mapping queries, email:
Mapping.Helpdesk@finance-ni.gov.uk

What to do next

For queries or advice about  60+ and Senior Citizen SmartPasses (which can be used to get concessionary travel on public transport), contact Smartpass - Translink.