COVID-19 Alert Level 1 Update
COVID-19 / 16 June 2020
We are now at Alert Level 1. We recommend ensuring your business Alert Level 1 plan is in place – it may be needed for a long time.
Level 1 Movements
Level 1 allows workplaces to operate without any significant restrictions. Physical distancing remains strongly encouraged but is no longer compulsory. The limits on those allowed in the workplace or at events are now lifted completely.
We anticipate most businesses still working from home under Level 2 will make the move back into the office. Office spaces that have remained empty since March 2020 should be thoroughly checked before a return occurs. For example, test the air conditioning and heating systems, check any servicing requirements have not expired. Further points to consider are discussed here.
Employers should ensure the following:
- Employees do not come to work sick
- Clients and customers do not come to the workplace unwell
- Regular disinfecting of shared surfaces
- Ministry of Health information on hygiene and handwashing is displayed/provided
- People can track their own movements by printing off the Ministry of Health QR code for anyone entering the workplace to scan
If you’re in a multiple office building, consult and cooperate with the other tenants in the building as to how this will be managed, and to ensure there is a consistent approach.
Increased risk to mental health
The effects of lockdown and return to work has the potential to impact workers mental health significantly including in terms of:
- Reintegration anxiety
- Heightened concerns around redundancies
- Shorter timeframes and smaller workforce to complete the same amount of work
- Exhausted annual leave entitlements
- Focused on working hard to make up for lost time
- Financial pressures – personal and work-related
- Additional work due to COVID restrictions
We envisage an increased risk of fatigue, workplace stress and mental health concerns, which employers are advised to consider and discuss for their workplace. These issues could be managed and monitored, for example, by:
- Monitoring work hours and leave
- Ensuring breaks
- Ensuring reasonable opportunity for sleep and rest outside of working hours
- Considering extra support
Message to Employers
While the shift to Level 1 relaxes many of the restrictions we have seen over the course of the pandemic, we would like to remind employers to remain vigilant about managing risks in the workplace. As noted, employers may need to seriously consider implementing measures to manage mental health risks, as we predict this may become quite relevant for many businesses. Employers should be mindful of their continued employment and health and safety obligations to their employees and seek advice for any practical issues that may arise. Our team can assist you with any queries you may have with operating your business at Level 1.
Disclaimer: We remind you that while this article provides commentary on employment law and health and safety topics, it should not be used as a substitute for legal or professional advice for specific situations. Please seek legal advice from your lawyer for any questions specific to your workplace.