Skip to Content
Teletrac Navman

TS24 - The Telematics Survey 2024 - Is Now Available. Download the Report Here

Guiding you through the Minefield of Returning to Work Post-Covid Lockdown

Data Blocks
Data Blocks

The Pandemic has hit those working in the transport and logistics sector just as hard as other industries but unlike those where staff have been furloughed, our sector has continued, unceasingly to collect, move and deliver goods around the country.


With some office-based colleagues ready to return from home-working, contact between them and road-based colleagues will revert back to something like normal.

It is essential, therefore, that employers are prepared for the change and have adequate measures in place.

Your first step should be to ask yourself if a return to the workplace for your employees is essential, sufficiently safe and mutually agreed; if you can answer ‘yes’ to all three criteria then you can start your preparations. In order to help you through all the uncertainty, your obligations and responsibilities to your employees, we’ve put together a set of guidelines to help you.


As an Employer, what are my health and safety responsibilities?

It is worthwhile at this point to review your health & safety policy to ensure it is relevant to a post-lockdown return to the workplace but in general, prior to Covid-19, your responsibilities included the following and all are still appropriate today:

  • Health and safety of all employees e.g. vulnerable workers etc.
  • Responsibility for both mental and physical health of employees
  • Duty to protect members of the public, clients, customers and contractors
  • Provision of safe systems of working
  • Information and training re H&S requirements/regulations – under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, employers must provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision following exposure to new or increased risks such as Covid


Depending on where your company operates within the UK you will need to check the relevant lockdown legislation and government guidance, relevant to you.


What steps should I take prior to a return to the workplace?

A good place to start is with a Covid-19 risk assessment which not only focusses on your employees but anyone entering your premises as your duty of care extends to visitors, members of the public, customers and contractors.  If your workforce is protected by a union, involve a union representative too, and you should take into account all groups of employees especially those classed as ‘vulnerable’.

Your risk assessment should consider the following:

  • What are the hazards?
  • Who might be harmed and how?
  • What are you already doing to control the risk?
  • What further action do you need to take to control the risks?
  • Who needs to carry out the action?
  • When is the action needed by?
  • Confirmation that the action has been taken i.e. completion date
  • The date or circumstances under which the Risk Assessment will be reviewed

Once you have completed your risk assessment it’s a good idea to share it with your employees to discuss the implications and agree next steps.  Doing so will ensure that they are confident that their health won’t be threatened by returning to the workplace. These discussions can then lead onto the formation of new measures and procedures and once finalised, you should publicise your Risk Assessment so your employees are all aware of the measures being taken to protect their health and safety.


What procedures should I have in place for the return to the workplace?

New procedures: as there may well have been significant changes to not only the look of the workplace but the way employees use it and move through it, it makes sense to re-induct all employees so they know what is expected of them as well as demonstrating that their welfare is of utmost importance to you.

Training: There may also be a need for specific training, for example mental health is a significant consideration and you may need to supply your management team with the skills to identify when one of their direct reports is struggling.

Vulnerable workers: Some of your employees may fall into the category of vulnerable workers and you must ensure that you are sensitive to, and meet, their specific needs.

Home working: It is still the Government’s directive that where possible, employees should continue to work from home. And it’s important to note that employers have the same health and safety responsibilities towards home workers as they do for any other worker and this includes care over their mental health.  Covid-19 has encouraged many employers to reassess the impact of home working and its benefits so it may be that a complete review of working hours, flexible working, home working and office needs would be beneficial. 


What practical steps should I consider/ take?

In England, the current guidance from the government states the employers should ensure that they have taken steps to prevent transmission of Covid-19 and these should include:

  • Minimising unnecessary visitors to the workplace
  • Ensuring 2m (6ft) social distancing, or if not possible, 1m social distancing with additional precautions i.e. the use of face masks
  • Frequent cleaning of premises – a deep clean before your employees return is a good idea
  • Extra hand washing facilities; and ensuring that the supplies of soap, sanitiser etc. are maintained throughout the working day
  • One-way systems to minimise contact; establishing ‘sittings’ if you have a staff canteen to minimise the number of people there at any one time or closing canteens and restaurants all together for the short-term
  • Using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible and ideally having vacant desk seats between workers
  • Staggering start/end times to the working day


As a final check, ensure that your new measures don’t discriminate against groups of workers, for example new routes moving around your premises may be unnavigable by disabled employees.

Some employees may be reluctant to use public transport as a means of getting to work so those employers that can should take steps to provide appropriate alternatives, for example the provision of parking spaces, or additional spaces if limited staff parking is currently available, secure bicycle parking and shower facilities.  Whilst as an employer you don’t have any statutory legal responsibility for an employee’s journey to work, demonstrating that you are aware of their possible concerns can only be beneficial to staff moral and confidence.

You may also need to consider making available to your workforce supplies of appropriate PPE.


What reporting / record keeping am I required to keep?

  • To demonstrate that you are managing the risks associated with Covid-19, keep records to show you have conducted a Health & Safety risk assessment and taken steps to implement the recommendations. Review the risk assessment on an ongoing basis and keep records to evidence this and any subsequent changes you may have made.
  • There is no requirement to report cases of Covid-19 under the 2013 Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDEO) – HSE (Health & Safety Executive) unless:
    • An accident or incident at work has led to the release or escape of Coronavirus
    • A person at work has been diagnosed as having Covid-19 as a result of an occupational exposure to the virus
    • A worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to the virus
  • It is essential to introduce a reporting system to handle any employee complaints and concerns over health and safety. A well-documented process not only ensures transparency but would demonstrate the steps you are taking when a concern has been raised and thereby your attitude toward employee wellbeing


What about insurance?

You should already have Employers Liability Insurance in place to cover the risk of claims from employees about injuries or illnesses suffered in the course of employment.  Your public liability insurance should cover claims from visitors or customers etc. but it is worth checking the scope of your cover, and whether you have any specialist health and safety insurance in place.  Remember to keep your insurers up to date if any claims are threatened.


What if one of my employees refuses to return to the workplace?

All workers have ‘an obligation to obey lawful and reasonable instructions’ given by their employer.  The Employment Rights Act (s.44) states that employees have the right to refuse to return to the workplace if they have a ‘reasonable’ belief it is unsafe to do so because of serious and imminent danger to themselves or others; Coronavirus qualifies as one such ‘danger’.  Whether an employee has a ‘reasonable’ belief will always depend on the facts; the fact that an employer is complying with the Government’s working safely guidance will be a relevant factor and this can be demonstrated by being thorough in your preparation for the return to the workplace and keeping well documented records throughout. 

In extreme circumstances, employees who feel that their employer hasn’t taken adequate steps may resign, stating their reason for doing so as the failure to put in place sufficient measures to preserve their safety – this could lead to claims of unfair or wrongful dismissal, so it is essential to get things right from the outset.


How can technology help?

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will be far reaching for both society and industry and ultimately many businesses will need to review their ways of working to minimise the impact.  Technology can definitely help with this by not only managing operations but also connecting employees who are working remotely. The key business issues relating to Covid-19 include transmission of the virus on documentation, knowing and managing the whereabouts of staff and being able to analyse and interpret data relating to movement of people and goods.  Teletrac Navman’s new AI-powered fleet management platform, TN360, is a perfect example of where technology can help facilitate this. This system offers employers peace of mind that processes are being handled digitally and in an instance can report on when vehicles and drivers are on site, why they’re on site, what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.


Now is a good time to revisit the technology needs of your business and the suite of products available from Teletrac Navman that can help lighten the load and steer you through the minefield of Post-Covid.


If in any doubt, businesses should engage in legal advice or visit for further guidance on return to work safety procedures.

Other Posts You Might Like