UK & Europe
Public Health England (PHE) has recently issued workplace action cards to certain business sectors setting out various key steps to quickly identify and contain any potential COVID-19 outbreak, to include contacting the local PHE Health Protection Team for help and advice.
If not managed properly, an intervention by PHE could also potentially lead to the involvement of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or local authority and, in a worst case scenario, morph into a formal criminal investigation.
With businesses’ COVID-19 policies and arrangements coming under scrutiny from all quarters as never before, the legal, commercial and PR risks for any business are significant.
In this update, we consider the latest PHE action cards, which business sectors it applies to, and how we can help protect your position.
Identify, report, respond
The action cards have been developed to cover a range of businesses and organisations.
The cards only apply to England and additional settings will be added in due course.
These quick-reference guides provide key steps to help businesses to:
The workplace action cards specifically cover:
In the event of an outbreak, the local PHE Health Protection Team may request further information, including whether other regulators (such as the HSE or local authority) have been in contact.
They may also request certain actions to be put in place, such as:
We have seen PHE visits to our clients swiftly followed by subsequent HSE spot inspections. Both agencies have been utilising a number of different ways to gather intelligence with a combination of site visits, video calls and document/information requests.
It is essential a business' response to regulators making enquiries about a company's COVID-19 arrangements puts its "best foot forwards". This should ensure minimum reputational and commercial exposure and risk to the business; to include minimising the prospect of any formal investigation and enforcement action by regulator.
How can we help?
In recent months, we have advised and represented numerous businesses in respect of their COVID-19 policies and arrangements following regulatory inspections and disclosure requests, including businesses that have implemented our recommendations and subsequently been deemed compliant by PHE, the HSE and Local Authorities.
We can support you and your business through any regulatory intervention by advising on:
Separately, we also have significant experience of proactively conducting audits, covered by legal professional privilege, of a company's COVID-19 risk management arrangements to "strength test" whether they address the relevant PHE/government/HSE/industry body guidance, and recommending improvements (which have subsequently been deemed compliant by both the HSE and local authorities).
If you would like to discuss any aspect of our offering, please contact one of our senior lawyers below or alternatively email your request to email@example.com.