PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT - 13.10.2020

Q&A - stay at work during break times?

Q. We’ve worked hard to make made our workplace “Covid-secure”. Can we insist that all employees stay on our premises during their breaks to ensure that our high health and safety standards are maintained?

A. On the face of it this might seem like a sensible idea. However, there are various factors you need to consider. Firstly, an employee’s break times are their own private time, not working time. Therefore, you can’t generally dictate what they do in those breaks or demand that they stay on your premises. Also, an employee might need to do something during their break which they can’t do at any other time, e.g. run an important errand, attend an appointment or make a private phone call.

An employee might also be using their break to exercise or purchase food or drink. Rather than forcing employees to stay on your premises, it’s better to insist that they adhere to hygiene standards on their return to work and follow all necessary social distancing measures.

Don’t prohibit employees from leaving your premises during break times to minimise coronavirus risks. This is their private time, not working time. But you can insist that they adhere to hygiene standards on their return and follow all necessary social distancing measures.

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