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Common Women’s Reproductive Health conditions

As we started our women’s wellbeing project in partnership with Heeley Trust, we realised that people don’t have a good understanding of women’s productive health issues. We thought it would be useful to give some basic information on the 4 most common issues with some links to further information.

The project which runs until April 2025, provides help and support to women and employers on women’s workplace wellbeing. We can provide one to one advice to women who live in Sheffield and help and support SME’s who want to engage with their employees about women’s reproductive health issues that are affecting their work. If you are an employer or employee, it’s easy to get in touch us, go to our website and use the “can we help you” tab to send a message to our secure email address and we will get in touch with you asap.

Health Issues

PCOS: polycystic ovary syndrome is a common condition that effects a women’s ovaries work. The 3 main features of this condition are:

  • Irregular periods as the ovaries don’t regularly release egg known as anovulatory in the processes of ovulation.
  • Excessive androgen – high levels of the “male” hormone in the body which can result in excessive facial or body hair.
  • Polycystic ovaries- ovaries get enlarged and have fluid filled sacks that surround them.

Some common symptoms of this condition that can affects some women are:

  • Irregular periods / painful periods
  • Difficulty getting pregnant
  • Weight gain
  • Thinning hair or hair loss
  • Oily skin and acne
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Mood swings or low mood.

PCOS is also associated with an increase risk of developing health problems such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. PCOS is related to abnormal hormone levels in the body including high levels of insulin as many women with PCOS have insulin resistance hence making their bodies produce higher levels to combat this. This also happens in overweight or obese patients with PCOS thus increasing the risk of the other health problems.

You can get support and guidance from

Menopause- This is a condition that occurs after women stop having their periods due to reduced hormone levels. Usually is found to happen when women reach the age of 45-55 however can sometimes occur earlier naturally, due to surgery such as hysterectomy where a women’s ovaries and uterus are removed, cancer treatment like chemo or a genetic reason however sometime the reason can be unknown.

Women can also have perimenopause this is when women have symptoms of menopause without stopping their period.

Some common symptoms of both perimenopause and menopause condition that can affects some women are:

  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Brain fog
  • Hot flushes
  • Irregular periods
  • changes in mood – such as low mood or irritability.
  • changes in skin conditions, including dryness or increase in oiliness and onset of adult acne.
  • difficulty sleeping – this may make you feel tired and irritable during the day.
  • discomfort during sex.
  • feelings of loss of self

You can get support and guidance from

Endometriosis- In this condition tissue that is similar to the lining of the womb grows in other places such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes. This condition affects women of all ages. The long-term effects of this condition can have significant impact on women’s lives however treatment is available that can help with symptoms.

Some common symptoms of this condition that can affects some women are:

  • pain in the lower back and pelvis and tummy
  • periods pain that stops them doing everyday task and jobs
  • pain during sex
  • vomiting or feeling sick
  • pain peeing and opening bowls
  • constipation, diarrhoea or blood in your wee and faeces
  • difficulty getting pregnant
  • heavy periods where you may need multiple pads, tampons or change of clothes
  • depression and anxiety.

You can get support and guidance from

IVF- invitro fertilisation is more of treatment rather than medical conditions. This is a treatment for women who struggle to conceive naturally due to some of the conditions mentions about. During this condition the egg from a woman and the sperm from the father are medically removed and fertilised together in a lab and placed back in the woman’s womb. This can be done with parents own egg and sperm or with donated egg and sperm.

Someone women can have the treatment on the NHS however other need to pay for it them self with cycles costing up to £5000.

The 6 stages of IVF:

  1. Suppressing the natural cycle
  2. Helping your ovaries produce extra eggs
  3. Monitoring your progress and maturing the eggs
  4. Collecting egg
  5. Fertilized eggs
  6. Transferring the embryos

This treatment can cause patient to have: anxiety, stress, mood swings Passing a small amount of clear or bloody fluid shortly after the procedure — due to the swabbing of the cervix before the embryo transfer, breast tenderness due to high estragon levels, mild bloating, mild cramping and constipation.

You can get support and guidance from

Please note that we have no relationship with any of the websites that we given links to in the blog post.

Menopause Support Plan

We have been asked by women and employers about what is a good way of supporting women in workplace on issues around the menopause.

We’ve found that this support plan can be useful in identifying what kinds of reasonable adjustments are needed in the workplace to keep an employee at work. The plan can be filled out by the employee or together with their line manager and placed on their personnel file so it is accessible as a record of the kind of help is need to maintain someone’s workplace wellbeing.

We can provide one to one advice to women who live in Sheffield and help and support SME’s who want to engage with their employees about women’s reproductive health issues that are affecting their work. If you are an employer or employee, it’s easy to get in touch us, go to our website and use the “can we help you” tab to send a message to our secure email address and we will get in touch with you asap

Flexible working – what happens next?

Here we are, slowly moving towards the 21st June when everyone hopes lockdown restrictions will end. When I look at what has happened in terms of working practice since the beginning of the pandemic, it feels like we have had a generational change in just 15 months. What concerns me is that while working practices have had to change, have organisations thought about what they will have to do in response? And what impact will this have on people’s mental health?

For some organisations the shift to home working appeared an opportunity to reduce their overhead costs and place some of that burden onto their staff. The reality is that not all jobs can be carried away from the workplace and not all homes are suitable for work. I suspect that the percentage of people who have a separate space to work from home is low. The outcome for these people appears to be a higher incidence of mental health and musculoskeletal issues. It appears that organisations have not stepped up to the plate here. Our own anecdotal evidence shows that while 80% of people who are working from home have had a workplace assessment, the same percentage think that the assessment wasn’t effective.

One in three of those who have asked SOHAS for advice on a workplace health issue over the past six months say the underlying issue is conflict with their line manager or employer. We are also seeing that there is a continuing disconnect between HR and employees, where we have seen a trend of organisations outsourcing their HR function. In some cases this has seen line managers being given traditional HR roles alongside their role but often without any additional training. Managing staff remotely is more complex and potentially time consuming. Managing via Zoom or Teams is not an effective way to form good relationships with staff. We can expect increasing stress for employees in these circumstances.

Research by the CIPD shows 44% of employees have not worked from home at all during the pandemic as their jobs do not allow it – yet only 30% of employers are planning to introduce other types of flexible working in the next six to 12 months. There needs to be a balance between how flexible and non-flexible roles are managed. I hope the upcoming report from the Flexible Working Taskforce will give strong recommendations on how to bring equality between the two types of working.

I think the TUC is quite right in raising concerns about a two-tier workforce emerging, but in truth I think we are there already – the pandemic has just brought the issue into a sharper focus.

Organisations are having to cope with a number of complex workforce issues. The UK workforce is getting older, unhealthier and family lives are getting more complex. Organisations engaging with their workforce on health and wellbeing issues are finding an intervention that works for a 25year-old may not be appropriate for a 60year-old. Buying in a traditional support package could be less effective in the future as employees seek some personalisation in terms of the kind of support they need from their employer as well as differing types of job flexibility.

The changes in how we work need appropriate changes from businesses and you would hope the government will be bold on flexible working, but recent experience shows that we are probably going to see mixed messages and fudging of the issue. There is a big opportunity to reconfigure how people work that will allow them to respond to the pressures they have on how they live their lives. If handled well this can bring benefits to organisations in terms of increased productivity, which has continued to be an issue for the UK for a generation. If businesses think that they can tinker around the edges, I suspect SOHAS will see a steady rise in the number of people seeking advice on how to reduce stress in the workplace

Long- Covid and Work

We are increasingly becoming more aware of the long-term, detrimental impact Covid-19 can have on a person’s health. Although there is not a huge amount of current research into Long-Covid yet, as an organization we are seeing an increased number of Long-Covid related referrals. A recent survey of UK works showed that 80% of people who have been diagnosed with Long-Covid said that it had effected their ability to work.

What we do know is that recovery from Covid-19 seems to be unique to each individual and can take anything from a matter of a few days or weeks to recover from. For most, a full recovery will be made within 12 weeks, but for some symptoms could last even longer.

There does not seem to be any correlation between the severity of symptoms and how long it takes to recover. For example, someone could have quite mild symptoms and not be hospitalised but still take a long time to recover. Similarly, it does not seem to only impact people who may have been classed as “vulnerable” or people who may have already had underlying health conditions. Long-Covid seems to impact anyone, including young, healthy people who have no underlying health conditions. This can often come as a shock and for many, symptoms can become difficult to manage but also hard to come to terms with the change in health and ability to do certain activities and tasks.

Common long COVID symptoms include:

  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain or tightness
  • problems with memory and concentration (“brain fog”)
  • difficulty sleeping (insomnia)
  • heart palpitations
  • dizziness
  • pins and needles
  • joint pain
  • depression and anxiety
  • tinnitus, earaches
  • feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • a high temperature, cough, headaches, sore throat, changes to sense of smell or taste
  • rashes

Do any of these symptoms sounds familiar to you? We understand that these symptoms can have an impact on a person’s whole life; of course, physical health as symptoms demonstrate above, but also their occupational health, mental health and financial stress. Some people may feel ready to return to work quite quickly where others may not feel fit for work but then feel additional pressures due to the inability to return.

Leading epidemiologist and World Health Organization (WHO) advisor Professor Mary-Louise McLaws called for greater attention to treatments and rehabilitation for ‘long COVID’ patients, flagging it as a major emerging issue in the global fight against the virus. She says, ‘We need to focus on this if we are trying to protect the young and ensure they have a good middle age.’  

This is a difficult time for many, but help is at hand and there is hope with more research going into Long-Covid. Whilst some would say New Zealand have been a leading country in preventing the transmission of Covid-19, there is less evidence in how they treat and support people struggling with Long-Covid as they have not been monitoring its long-term impact as closely. In contrast, Melbourne in Australia seem to be taking action to support people with Long-Covid with a new clinical pathway. This pathway links GPs, hospital physicians and corona virus survivors together to tackle the long-term impact of Covid-19.

Here in Sheffield we have a leading and developed approach to care where primary care, secondary care and the voluntary sector work collaboratively to provide wrap around holistic support, including to those who are impacted by Long-Covid.

We are working with the Long Covid Support Unit who are referring patients who live or work in Sheffield to us. The patients are employed but struggling to return to work after been diagnosed with long covid or are at work but struggling to stay at work.

You don’t have to be in contact to with the long covid support unit to get help, if you meet our criteria, go to our website and use the “ask the expert” tab to get in touch ring us on 0114 2755760.

If you would like some more information on returning to work or an idea of what reasonable adjustments could be make at work in relation to long-covid here is a helpful advice from the NHS:


Pandemic Presenteeism

There has been lots of talk from organisations about the end of presenteeism now that people have a choice of where they can work from.  

For those of you who do not know what presenteeism is, it is when people work while they are mentally or physically unwell, leading to unproductiveness and mental fatigue for the individual.

I am puzzled by these comments about ‘the end of presenteeism’ as what has happened is that we now have 2 types of presenteeism; the sort we have always had, and now virtual, where people might be logged on remotely but are not “present”. 

The issues here I think are about choice, motivation, and unawareness.

Working from home and being stuck in one environment for both work and free time is an issue many of us are now facing. This new(ish) situation is triggering not just a lack of motivation to do work but also the feeling that, since one is working from home, one must be working as hard and as frequently as you can.

This is resulting in people working when they are not feeling well. The lockdowns have seen mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression skyrocket and working from home is increasing the strain of this.

The pandemic is still an unprecedented situation, one that no one can place a distinct time on a return to full “normality”. Knowing how long working from home will last even now lockdown is starting to be lifted is rather difficult. However, there are ways to combat the feeling of working when you might not be feeling well.

  • The first thing to remember is that you are not alone in this situation. These are incredibly challenging times, so you are not expected to find your work a complete walk in the park, asking for help should not be seen as a weakness.
  • Remember, it is important to set a daily structure to help motivate yourself to work but also to avoid overworking yourself. Factor in a lunch break and times for you to relax and have breaks from work. This will help you be more productive when you are working and also allow you to take important time away from work for your health and wellbeing.
  • Designating a work area is another great tip for increasing work productivity. It is widely thought to be damaging to your health if you work from your bed, for instance,[1] as this merges both your work and free time and prohibits you from separating the two. Pick a space that is just for work and keep other spaces for your own relaxation and downtime.
  • Working from home is not an ideal situation for anyone, especially in the midst of the pandemic, even though the lockdown is being relaxed. But there are ways to help you boost your wellbeing. The end of this pandemic may be uncertain, but we can still try and make the best with what we have.

If you are struggling with your situation, do not be afraid to reach out for help. If you work or live in Sheffield, SOHAS can be contacted for advice on workplace health issues by telephone on (0114) 2755760 or by using the ask an expert tab on our website:

[1] 6 Reasons Working from Bed Isn’t a Good Idea (

My business’s COVID Safe plan:


We have put together some guidance for businesses based on the two topics which we have found they are struggling to implement: Physical distancing and hygiene in the workplace. We hope you find it useful.

COVID‑19 will be with us for some time, so it’s important that your business has a plan ‑ and continues to plan ‑ to keep your workplace healthy, safe and virus‑free. This guidance will help your business prepare a plan for the different stages of the pandemic. It covers: 

  • How to make sure that staff who are working can do so productively and safely
  • A guide to understanding the issues around physical distancing and what practical steps you do to make your staff feel safe
  • Help you to put effective hygiene regimes in place to make sure that you minimise contact with the virus

You should revise any plan frequently, particularly as restrictions and conditions change.

Important resources from the Government and Health and Safety websites. 

There are a number of important work health and safety laws, obligations and duties your business needs to comply with. It’s important you carefully review the guidance using the links below to understand your obligations and ensure your business is properly prepared. What needs to be done to meet your work health and safety obligations will depend on your business’s individual circumstances – these will have changed because of COVID‑19.

You must talk to your employees to understand their concerns and work together to ensure your workplace is COVID Safe. A worker who reasonably believes their workplace or work practice were harmful or potentially harmful to health or safety has the legal right to refuse to undertake it.

It will also be important that you continue to plan and adapt as circumstances change, so make sure you stay up to date with current advice and guidelines. Below are some of the issues you should be looking at as an employer:

  • What are my duties under employment and health safety law?

  e.g.: who do I owe a duty to? facilities, identify and manage risks, training, emergency plans

  • What can I do to keep workers safe?

   e.g.: health monitoring, physical distancing, hygiene, vulnerable workers, PPE

  • Working from home
  • e.g.:  mental health, home station set ups, identify and manage risks
  • What are my worker’s rights?
  • e.g.: consultation, discrimination, right to stop work
  • Cleaning and protection
  • e.g.: how to clean, what to use, PPE, masks, gloves
  • Mental health
  • e.g.: looking after yourself and your staff, work related violence, family and domestic violence

Other helpful resources

This is a difficult time – we all need support. Industry associations and Chambers of Commerce have tailored advice and support which might help your business.

It’s also vitally important that you think about mental health – both for you and your workers.

Here are some resources that might be helpful:

Keeping people safe (you, staff, customers and the public)

The first step in preparing your business for operating in the COVID‑19 environment is to understand how your risks have changed. This is why it’s critical your business completes a risk assessment and follows guidance from the Health and Safety Executive

Health and Safety Executive’s risk assessment guidance will help you identify how your business needs to prepare. You will need to know the current restrictions and how they apply to your business. You can also use this information to update your existing risk assessment plan for COVID‑19 risks.

  • Read through the HSE advice on how to undertake a risk assessment.
  • Complete or update your risk assessment. Keep it somewhere safe and easily accessible. Review and update it regularly to make sure you keep on top of any new risks that may emerge or as public health advice changes. Setting a reminder in your phone can help make this a habit.

It’s critical that your business completes a risk assessment and follows guidance from the HSE executive.

Remember to talk to your workers as soon as possible – they will also know where potential risks may exist and have ideas about how to make your workplace COVID Safe.

What do I need to do to keep my workers safe and limit the spread of COVID-19?

Employers have three options for their employees, either keep them working from home or ask them to come back to their workplace or a combination of both. All the options needs thought and planning to make sure that you keep them safe and productive.

If you as an employer are asking your employees to work somewhere that they perceive to be unsafe, or if they have other issues which mean that they can’t return to work, then this might not be a reasonable management request. Many people are struggling with issues around transport, childcare and caring responsibilities and these issues must form part of your planning and implementation.

Staff must not to come into work if they are unwell. 

Home working

Ideally as an employer you will need to carry out a simple risk assessment of your employee’s home working environment and consider how suitable someone is to work from home effectively. Some people enjoy the flexibility of home working, others miss physically being in the same work space with their colleagues. One of the most important issues is how employees use their computer as they need to be comfortable sitting for long periods. The following principles are a good rule of thumb for a comfortable sitting position:  

  • Balanced head, not leaning forward.
  • Arms relaxed by your side.
  • Forearms parallel to desk.
  • Screen approximately arm’s length from you
  • Top of screen about eye level.
  • Space behind knee to the edge of your chair
  • Feet flat on floor or on a footrest.

An adjustable chair which makes getting the right height easier is beneficial. If employees are using a dining room chair, they might have to sit on a cushion to get the right height and use a cushion for lower back support. This method works just as well if you are using a desktop and monitor. Sitting on a settee, armchair or edge of the bed is definitely not a good idea!

Employees should choose a space with lots of natural light, avoiding glare or reflection to reduce eye strain and headaches. Research shows that making your home desk look like your work desk work makes it easier to complete your work.

Bringing employees back into the workplace

If it is not possible to work from home or redesign practices, there are two key issues for employers to understand and implement in the workplace:

  • Physical distancing
  • Effective hygiene practices 

Physical distancing

Physical distancing is important because COVID-19 is most likely to spread through close contact with a person who has the infection and who may not yet have developed symptoms. Physical distancing means keeping people apart. Currently, this means keeping a distance of at least 2 metres between people.

The likelihood of interactions causing the spread of COVID-19 is low if physical distancing advice and good hygiene are followed as the virus is unlikely to be spread

Remember, you must consult with workers and health and safety representatives on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19, including what control measures to put in place in your workplace.  

Why is physical distancing important? 

Physical distancing is necessary because the most likely way of catching the virus is by breathing in micro-droplets from another person sneezing, coughing, or exhaling. By ensuring you maintain a physical distance of at least 2 metres from others where possible, you will reduce the likelihood of exposure to micro-droplets of others. 

Current advice is that everyone, including people at workplaces, must implement physical distancing measures wherever possible.  

How do I make sure there is 2 metres between people?

You should consider and make adjustments to the layout of the workplace and your workflows to enable workers to keep at least 2 metres apart to continue performing their duties. For example, this could be achieved by, spreading out furniture or plant to increase distancing, or considering floor and/or wall markings and signage to identify 2 metres distancing requirements. 

You should also review tasks and processes that usually require close interaction and identify ways to modify these to increase physical distancing between workers where it is practical and safe to do so.  

My workers cannot maintain a physical distance of 2 metres when performing work. Does this mean they cannot perform work?

It will not always be possible for workers and others to keep 2 metres apart at all times at the workplace. For example, workers may have to work closely with each other or others because of the nature of the task

Working in close contact increases the risk of workers being exposed to COVID-19. You must consider whether the work task must be completed or could be rescheduled to a later date. If the task must be completed and your workers will be in close contact, you must undertake a risk assessment to determine what control measures are reasonably practicable in the circumstances to eliminate or minimise health and safety risks from COVID-19. For example, if close contact with others is unavoidable, you must implement other control measures such as: 

  • minimising the number of people within an area at any time.
  • limit access to the workplace or parts of the workplace to essential workers only. 
  • staggering start, finish and break times where appropriate.
  • moving work tasks to different areas of the workplace or off-site if possible.
  • if possible, separating workers into dedicated teams and have them work the same shift or work in a particular area and consider whether these dedicated teams can have access to their own meal areas or break facilities.
  • ensuring each worker has their own equipment or tools.  
  • wearing appropriate PPE to minimise risks.
  • reducing the number of tasks to be completed each day, where possible. 
  • postponing non-essential work.
  • splitting workers’ shifts to reduce the number of workers onsite at any given time. Schedule time between shifts so that there is no overlap of staff arriving at and leaving the workplace or have different entrances and exits to avoid interaction. 
  • put signs around the workplace and create wall or floor markings to identify 2 metres distance. Your staff could wear a badge as a visual reminder to themselves and each other of physical distancing requirements. 
  • limit physical interactions between workers, workers and clients, and workers and other persons at the site – e.g. by using contactless deliveries and limiting non-essential visitors.
  • require workers to use other methods such as mobile phone or radio to communicate rather than face to face interaction.
  • ensure rooms are well-ventilated so that air changes several times an hour.

Layout of the workplace

You may need to redesign the layout of the workplace and your workflows to enable workers to keep at least 2 metres apart to continue performing their duties. This can be achieved by, where possible: 

  • restricting workers and others to certain pathways or areas.
  • spreading out furniture or plant to increase distancing.  
  • floor and/or wall markings and signage to identify 2 metres distancing requirements. 

If changing the physical layout of the workplace, you must allow for workers to enter, exit and move about the workplace both under normal working conditions and in an emergency without risks to their health and safety.  

Staff gatherings and training

Postpone or cancel non-essential gatherings, meetings or training. If these are essential: 

  • use non face-to-face options to conduct – e.g. electronic communication such as tele and video conferencing 
  • if a non face-to-face option is not possible, ensure face-to-face time is limited and lasts no longer than it needs to.
  • hold the gathering, meeting or training in spaces that enable workers to keep at least 2 metres apart and with 4 square metres of space per person – e.g. outdoors or in large conference rooms. 
  • limit the number of attendees. This may require, for example, multiple training sessions to be held.
  • ensure adequate ventilation if held indoors. 

Workplace facilities 

  • Reduce the number of workers utilising common areas at a given time – e.g by staggering meal breaks and start times. 
  • Spread out furniture in common areas.
  • Place signage about physical distancing around the workplace. These posters can be placed around the workplace and in client-facing work environments (e.g. workplace entrances). Consideration needs to be given for those where English is not their first language.   
  • Consider providing separate amenities such as kitchens and bathrooms for workers and visitors/clients.


Even if workers and others only spend a short amount of time in a lift each day, there is still a risk of exposure to COVID-19 that you must eliminate or minimise so far as reasonably practicable. 

  • You must still ensure, as far as you reasonably can, that people maintain physical distancing in lifts and lift waiting areas.
  • Remember, you must consult with workers and their representatives (e.g. health and safety representatives) on health and safety matters relating to COVID-19, including when using lifts.
  • You must also consult with the building owner/manager and other employers in the building about the control measures to be implemented to address the risk of COVID-19. You may not be able to implement all of the control measures yourself but must work with others to ensure those measures are put in place.

Safe use of lifts is best achieved through a combination of measures, determined in consultation with workers, including those that control the number of people needing to use a lift at any one time. This includes:

  • reducing the number of workers arriving and leaving buildings and using lifts in peak periods, where possible (e.g. stagger start and finish times for workers by 10-15 minutes per team or group).
  • maintaining working from home arrangements for some staff (where this works for both you and your workers). This could include splitting the workforce into teams with alternating days or weeks in the workplace.
  • changing lift programming to facilitate more efficient flow of users – e.g. decrease the time that doors stay open on each floor (where safe to do so) or where there are multiple lifts, assign specific lifts to certain floors based on demand (e.g. lift A to service floors 1-5, lift B to service floors 6-8 etc). 
  • it is still important that lift users physically distance themselves to the extent possible when waiting for a lift and when in the lift. You must do what you reasonably can to ensure crowding in and around lifts does not occur.  

In the lift lobby or waiting area:

  • ensure workers and others maintain a physical distance of 2 metres, to the extent possible.
  • implement measures at waiting areas for lifts, such as floor markings or queuing systems. Also create specific pathways and movement flows for those exiting the lifts where possible (you may need to consult with your building manager or other employers in the building to ensure this occurs). You could consider engaging someone to monitor compliance with physical distancing measures where appropriate.
  • place signage around lift waiting areas reminding users to practice physical distancing and good hygiene while waiting for and using lifts, including to wait for another lift if the lift is full.
  • display an advisory passenger limit for each lift

Within lifts:

  • users of lifts must maintain physical distancing, to the extent possible.
  • place signage in the lift reminding workers and others to practice good hygiene by washing their hands, or where this is not possible, using appropriate hand sanitiser, after exiting the lift, particularly if they touched lift buttons, rails or doors – see also our information on hygiene
  • implement regular cleaning of high touchpoints such as lift buttons and railings – see also our information on cleaning.

New risks

In some cases, depending on the design of a building, stairs may be an option to reduce demand on lifts. If workers and others are to use stairwells or emergency exits as an alternative to using lifts, you must identify and address any new risks that may arise. For example:

  • the increased risk of slips, trips and falls particularly if the stairs are narrow and dimly lit.
    • the risk that arises when opening and closing heavy fire doors.
    • the risk that a person may become trapped in the stairwell.

You must also consider workers’ compensation arrangements and whether your contract of tenancy allows for workers to use stairs, other than in an emergency.

You must also consider how existing measures will be impacted if you allow workers and others to use stairwells or emergency exits. For example:

  • does increased usage of emergency exits and stairwells impact your emergency plans and procedures?
  • will stairwell usage increase the risk of fire doors being left open? 

  Deliveries, contractors and visitors attending the workplace

  • Non-essential visits to the workplace should be cancelled or postponed.   
  • Minimise the number of workers attending to deliveries and contractors as much as possible. 
  • Delivery drivers and other contractors who need to attend the workplace to provide maintenance or repair services or perform other essential activities, should be given clear instructions of your requirements while they are on site.  
  • Ensure handwashing facilities, or if not possible, alcohol-based hand sanitiser, is readily available for workers after physically handling deliveries. 
  • Direct visiting delivery drivers and contractors to remain in vehicles and use contactless methods such as mobile phones to communicate with your workers wherever possible. Providing where possible access to a toilet.  
  • Direct visiting delivery drivers and contractors to use alcohol-based hand sanitiser before handling products being delivered. 
  • Use, and ask delivery drivers and contractors to use, electronic paper work where possible, to minimise physical interaction. Where possible, set up alternatives to requiring signatures. For instance, see whether a confirmation email or a photo of the loaded or unloaded goods can be accepted as proof of delivery or collection (as applicable). If a pen or other utensil is required for signature you can ask that the pen or utensil is cleaned or sanitised before use. For pens, you may wish to use your own. 

On-going review and monitoring

If physical distancing measures introduce new health and safety risks (e.g. because they impact communication or mean that less people are doing a task), you need to manage those risks too. Put processes in place to regularly monitor and review the implementation of physical distancing measures to ensure they are being followed and remain effective. 

Do I need to provide personal protective equipment to workers who are in close contact with each other? 

You must ensure workers comply with physical distancing requirements where possible. In circumstances where the nature of the task requires workers to be in close contact, you must put control measures in place that minimise the time workers spend with each other or with other people in the workplace. You must also ensure workers are practicing good hygiene.  

If you have a situation where, despite other control measures, workers will be in close contact with each other or with other people for longer than the recommended time (i.e more than 15 minutes face to face  consider the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).  

Workers must be trained in the proper use of PPE. Be aware of the workplace risks that may arise as a result of workers using and wearing PPE. 

My workers need to travel in a vehicle together for work purposes. How do they practice physical distancing?

Physical distancing in vehicles

You must maintain physical distancing wherever possible between individuals when in vehicles:

  • avoid multiple occupancy vehicles where safe to do so
  • vehicles should not be shared if possible
  • if it is not possible to keep a 2m distance in a vehicle, consider additional safety measures

Steps that will usually be needed:

  • Devising mitigation measures where workers have no alternative but to work within 2m to minimise the risk of transmission, including:

    – clear signage to outline social distancing measures in place
    – single person or contactless refuelling where possible
    – using physical screening, provided this does not compromise safety, for example, through reducing visibility
    – sitting side-by-side not face-to-face and increasing ventilation where possible
  • Using a fixed pairing system if people have to work in close proximity, for example in a vehicle.
  • Making sure vehicles are well-ventilated to increase the flow of air, for example, by opening a window.
  • Ensure regular cleaning of vehicles, in particular between different users.

You must reduce the number of workers travelling together in a vehicle for work purposes. You should ensure that only two people are in a 5 seat vehicle – the driver and a worker behind the front passenger seat. Only one worker should be in a single cab vehicle. 

These measures may mean: 

  • more of your vehicles are on the road at one time  
  • more workers are driving and for longer periods than usual (if driving by themselves).  

Because of this, you should review your procedures and policies for vehicle maintenance and driver safety to ensure they are effective and address all possible risks that arise when workers drive for work purposes.  

If workers are required to travel together for work purposes and the trip is longer than 15 minutes, windows should be opened for the duration of the trip.  

You must also clean vehicles following each use, no matter the length of the trip.

Do workers need to practice physical distancing when on a lunch break or when travelling to and from work?

Yes. Workers must always comply with any public health directions or orders. This includes maintaining a physical distance of 2 metres between people.    

Do I have to maintain physical distancing if I’m visiting a client’s home?

Yes. The rules apply even when the workplace is a private home or dwelling. The client’s home is a workplace when you or your worker are there to perform work 

You or your worker should talk to the client to ensure they understand the risks of COVID-19 and about the control measures to reduce the risk of exposing them and your worker to the virus.  

Handwashing and hygiene

COVID-19 is most likely spread from person to person through:

  • Direct contact with a person while they are infectious.
  • Contact with droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • Touching objects or surfaces that are contaminated by droplets coughed or sneezed from an infected person.

Good hygiene is necessary to stop the spread. This means:

  • frequent hand washing with soap, or hand sanitising, including before and after you eat and after going to the bathroom.
  • hand washing should take 20-30 seconds.
  • hands (palms, fingers and back of their hands) should be covered with soap prior to washing them with warm water. This should occur after a worker has had contact with a customer, as well as after cash transactions. It is particularly important workers sanitise or wash their hands before or after touching their face.
  • alcohol-based hand sanitisers with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol are the recommended form of hand hygiene. If hand sanitiser is unavailable, workers should be regularly given the opportunity to wash their hands with soap.
  • avoiding physical contact with others such as through shaking hands.
  • avoiding touching eyes, nose and face.
  • covering mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing with a clean tissue or elbow.
  • putting used tissues straight into the bin.

Practical good hygiene examples:

  • have automatic alerts set up on computer systems to remind workers about washing hands and not touching eyes, nose and face.
  • have hand sanitiser stations on entry and exit points and around the workplace generally.
  • cashless transactions.
  • increase access to closed bins.

Signage and posters

It is important that you have signs and posters around the workplace to remind workers and others of the risks of COVID-19 and the measures that are necessary to stop its spread. This includes posters on what is COVID-19 and how we can stop it spreading, how to wash your hands and the physical distancing requirements.

Think about your business’ hygiene and cleaning practices. Are there enough supplies? Are frequently used areas cleaned regularly?  What do I need?

  • Detergent, either as a solution or as wipes, or
  • A 2-in-1 detergent and disinfectant solution, or wipes which can be used for routine cleaning.

When should I clean?

  • Clean your workplace at the end of the work day using a detergent, or a 2-in-1 detergent and disinfectant solution. Focus on frequently touched surfaces such as table tops, door handles, light switches, desks, toilets and toilet doors, taps, TV remotes, kitchen surfaces and cupboard handles.
  • Clean objects and surfaces used repeatedly by lots of people frequently throughout the day using a detergent, or 2-in-1 detergent and disinfectant solution. For example: trolleys and baskets, checkouts, card reader machines, handrails, lift buttons.
  • Clean surfaces and fittings that are visibly soiled or after any spillage as soon as possible using a detergent, or a 2-in-1 detergent and disinfectant solution.
  • Instruct workers to clean personal property that has been brought to work and is likely to be handled at work or during breaks with a detergent or 2-in-1 detergent and disinfectant solution, or wipes. For example: sunglasses, mobile phones, iPad’s, car keys. This checklist will assist you to implement health and hygiene measures at your workplace and do a review of your facilities.

How to safely clean

  • Read the product label and Safety Data Sheet for the cleaning product(s) before using and make sure you follow all instructions, including all required personal protective equipment (PPE). Also make sure the product is suitable for use on the surface you are cleaning.
  • Instruct workers to wear gloves when cleaning and ensure they know to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, or to use alcohol-based hand sanitiser if they cannot wash their hands, both before and after wearing gloves.
  • If possible, use disposable gloves when cleaning and discard after each use. Otherwise, only use reusable gloves for routine cleaning and do not share gloves between workers.

After cleaning

  • Dispose of any disposable cloths in a rubbish bag, or launder reusable cloths in the usual way. Cleaning if someone in my workplace is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 Preparing to clean
  • Prevent access to the areas that were used by the suspected or confirmed case as well as any common areas (break rooms, bathrooms) and any known or likely touch points.
  • Open outside doors and windows if possible, to increase air circulation.

What do I need?

  • A detergent, as a solution that can be mixed with water,
  • A disinfectant containing alcohol in a concentration of 70%, chlorine bleach in a concentration of 1000 parts per million oxygen bleach, or wipes and sprays that contain quaternary ammonium compounds.
  • A combined detergent and disinfectant solution.
  • Appropriate PPE for cleaning staff, including disposable gloves and safety eyewear.
  • Provide a disposable apron where there is visible contamination with respiratory secretions or other bodily fluids.
  • A surgical mask if the person suspected to have COVID-19 is in the room.

What should I clean?

  • all areas of suspected or confirmed contamination
  • any common areas (e.g. break rooms, washrooms), and
  • any known or likely touch points in the workplace. How to safely clean
  • read the product label and Safety Data Sheet for the cleaning product(s) before using and make sure you follow all instructions, including all required PPE. Also make sure the product is suitable for use on the surface you are cleaning.
  •  Ensure staff are trained in putting PPE on and taking PPE off, including washing or sanitising hands between steps.
  • Use disposable gloves where possible, and discard after each use. Wash or sanitise hands before and after wearing gloves. After cleaning
  • Dispose of any single-use PPE, disposable cloths and covers in a rubbish bag and place it inside another rubbish bag and dispose of in general waste.
  • Launder any reusable cleaning equipment including mop heads and disposable cloths and completely dry before re-use.
  • Empty and re-clean equipment such as buckets with a fresh solution of disinfectant.

Responding to a COVID19 infection: Do you know what to do in the event of an infection?

You should plan for how to respond if there is a suspected or confirmed case of COVID‑19 associated with your business. Your plan will depend on the circumstances of your own business and whether the affected person has physically been in the workplace. It is important to take the time to plan now so your business is confident it can respond swiftly and easily.

You are not expected, and should not try, to diagnose people. However, you have a work health and safety duty to minimise the risk of workers and others in the workplace being exposed to COVID-19, so far as reasonably practicable. If you reasonably suspect someone could have the virus, or has been exposed, this creates a health risk at your workplace, and you will need to follow the steps below.

The person you are concerned about is at the workplace

  • ISOLATE Prevent the spread. Isolate the person from others and provide a disposable surgical mask, if available, for the person to wear.
  • SEEK ADVICE Follow advice of public health officials.
  • TRANSPORT Ensure the person has transport to their home and only to a medical facility if advised to do so by NHS111)
  • CLEAN and disinfect the areas where the person and close contacts have been. Do not use those areas until this process is complete. Use PPE when cleaning.
  • IDENTIFY & INFORM Consider who the person has had close contact with. Tell close contacts they may have been exposed and follow advice on quarantine requirements and follow the information on the governments track and trace system.
  • REVIEW  Risk management controls relating to COVID-19 and review whether work may need to change. Consult workers with workers on all issues around workplace health.

The person you are concerned about was recently at the workplace

  • SEEK ADVICE Call 111 and or follow advice of public health officials.
  • IDENTIFY & INFORM Identify who at the workplace had close contact with the affected person. If instructed by public health officials, tell close contacts they may have been exposed and follow advice on quarantine requirements.
  • CLEAN and disinfect the areas where the person and their close contacts have been. Do not use those areas until this process is complete. Use PPE when cleaning.
  • REVIEW risk management controls relating to COVID-19 and review whether work may need to change. Consult workers on workplace health issues

You can find information on track and trace here:

This information has been compiled by Sheffield Occupational Health Advisory Service and should be used for guidance only, always check for current guidance and new advice from reliable sources. June 2020.

Social isolation and working

So, you’ve listened to the government announcement on work and you realise that you aren’t going to be able to go into your workplace for some time. Your isolation is going to continue with uncertainty over when you will be able meet your work colleagues again in the flesh and whether you will have a job in the future.

It might feel like it was a long time ago, but before the pandemic, working from home was seen as a positive way to take some control over your life as people felt it gave them a better work life balance, greater flexibility and reduced their stress levels.

Now, maybe it’s the time to reappraise whether working from home is going to work for the numbers of employees for whom home working isn’t a choice anymore. Studies are beginning to show that isolation is becoming more widespread for home workers. Maybe this is going to accelerate during the pandemic. Recently the head of a UK bank, suggested that having large numbers of staff working from their kitchen was a good thing, but how many of his kitchen workers are now longing to get back to the cut and thrust of their office?

I’ve found that it’s easy for Isolation to creep up on you. I realised after a couple of weeks of the lockdown that I was hardly going out of the house and I had begun to feel that I was beginning to lose what I considered to be proper contact with my staff and with colleagues from other organisations. Virtual meetings are ok, but you are still isolating, with the hard stop of each meeting where as before you could and would linger to have a chat with someone you haven’t seen for a while.

Research tell us the problem is that social isolation is difficult to talk about. There’s some shame attached to it, as nobody wants to be perceived as a loner or a shut-in. This prompts people to try to pretend that everything is fine A few people I’ve talked to about the reality of working from home is that they feel that professional advancement is slowing down, that they are more out of sight and mind than before and it might be difficult to get involved in new opportunities.

A recent blog post highlighted a lot of the issues that are missing with working remotely. “The main way most of us are connected to our local, geographical communities is through work.” “When you remove that – when you’re not commuting, you don’t bump shoulders, you don’t meet the guy who happens to have a cousin on your block and now you’re friends – you have to work harder to feel connected.” (1)

So, what can you do?

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, taking control is one way of being able to manage working remotely. This can be difficult as it’s easy to get sucked into looking at the news and social media as a way of distracting yourself from your remoteness.  I find that the way news or stories are presented as facts, turning probability into certainty is disturbing. Cutting down on looking and consuming news and media is one of the ways I’ve chosen to manage this and I’ve found it wasn’t difficult to do.  Other things I’ve found to be useful include:

  • Keeping in touch with family and friends on a regular basis via Skype, Facetime and Zoom.
  • Keeping in touch with someone you know who is without family or friends, contacting them and asking them to contact you if they want to.
  • I write a ‘to do’ list that I need to do the next day as I find it helps me keep my focus.
  • I exercise every other day. I find running for at least 30 minutes energises me for the day ahead, but any exercise is fine. There are lots of online fitness sessions to choose from.
  • A friend who has 2 young children has ‘on’ and ‘off’ duty days with her partner. On her off duty days she gives herself a treat which is to listen to audio books. She says it diverts her mind from the pandemic.
  • A lot of friends have started to cook more and made lots dishes that they hadn’t thought of before.

The pandemic has meant that the world of work has changed and the chances are it won’t go back to what it was like in March 2020. This may mean that working from home is an option or an employer’s preferred way of working for some. This will mean people will have to develop strategies for maintaining their resilience is a slightly more remote working environment.



Resilience and Remote Working

So, we are working from home due to the threat of infection by the virus.  We have our home working ‘office’ set up and then we realise that we might be working from home for some considerable time.

We are all dealing with a new event that we haven’t experienced before, or if we have experienced something similar, we may not have coped with it well. I’m guessing for some people that remote working is completely new. Waking up and not having to get in a car or the bus before you start work is ‘different’.

The lack of a commute may appeal to some, but many people use the journey as a nice part of down time. I like to listen to an audiobook on the bus and I’m not the only one who is reading a book or a newspaper. I have a friend who now “goes out to work”, which for him is stepping out of his front door for a 10-minute circular walk and as he walks back in, he is ready to start work.

Freedom or stress?

Once this pandemic is over, there are likely to be more people continuing to work remotely, either employed or self-employed. Whatever their employment status, many face similar challenges. Whilst there may not be anything we can do about the decision to work remotely and from home, we do need to work out if it can ‘work for us’. Where possible, try not to stay remote working if you can see it’s not for you.

There has been lots of research about stress and control at work. The Goldilocks principle applies here – neither too much or too little is the best way to go in developing a positive work dynamic.

I think control is the key to becoming resilient if you have to work remotely. I find it challenging to work in this way. That may be because I have children and a dog. But I like working alone – I find I can get so much done and it gives me freedom to work in a pattern I’m comfortable with. I find it creative, going back and forth to different pieces of work. I don’t like to plan and have a formal structure to the way I work.

What can you do to stay in control?

I’m equating control with being and staying resilient. If you think is the case, then what can you practically do? Here are some principles I think are beneficial:

  • Work out how you spend your time.
  • Be clear about your job outcomes.
  • Work out what is controllable and uncontrollable.
  • Negotiate time and boundaries.

I think if you can work out a way of using these principles to help construct your work routine, then you could manage working remotely effectively. Planning out a structure is also useful out. E.g.  Place yourself under pressure for 50 minutes in the hour, then take a 10 minute complete break doing something else like walk around the house and garden, or, if you really need to, look at emails……. Then start again placing yourself under pressure for 50 minutes. (1) This should begin to give you control over your working day. You can go further and combine them with a more holistic way of thinking, which could include the following:

  • You are not ‘working from home’ – you are ‘at home, during a crisis, trying to work.’
  • Your physical, mental and emotional health is extremely important – you should try to manage this the best you can.
  • You should not try to compensate for lower productivity by working longer hours.
  • Be kind to yourself – don’t judge how you are coping based on how others seem to be coping.
  • Be kind to others – don’t judge how they seem to be coping compared with how you are.
  • Success will not be measured the same way it was when things were normal. (2)

Working remotely and from home has some ‘freedom’ attached. At times it can become overwhelming, but we do have the ability to control how we respond. Hopefully, you will find information and practical steps to maintain and improve your resilience in these difficult times.

(1) Adapted from

(2) Adapted from Blue Mountain Community College Boardman, Oregon



A guide to your Employment rights during Covid 19

We have produced this guide because we are being contacted by employees who are worried and concerned about keeping safe at work and want to know their employment rights if they are affected by the COVID 19 virus in the UK.

Self-isolation and sick pay

As of 13 March 2020, employees and workers must receive any Statutory Sick Pay due to them from their first day of self-isolation if it’s because:

  • they have coronavirus
  • they have coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature or new continuous cough
  • someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms
  • they’ve been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111

The money – set at £94.25 a week – is paid by employers for up to 28 weeks. So if you are self-employed, you will not be eligible – but if you are a casual or agency worker, you will be.

To receive SSP you need to be earning at least £118 a week.

SSP can now be claimed from a person’s first day away from work, rather than the fourth day as before.

If someone has symptoms and lives alone, they must self-isolate for 7 days.

If someone lives in a household and is the first to have symptoms, they must self-isolate for 7 days. Everyone else in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.

If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms, the person with the new symptoms must self-isolate for 7 days. This is regardless of where they are in the 14-day isolation period.

What does self-isolating mean?

If you have been told to self-isolate, you will need to get to the place you are going to stay using your normal mode of transport, once there remain indoors and avoid contact with other people. This will prevent you from spreading the disease to your family, friends and the wider community.

In practical terms, this means that once you reach your residence you must:

  • stay at home
  • not go to work, school or public areas
  • not use public transport like buses, trains, tubes or taxis
  • avoid visitors to your home
  • ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you – such as getting groceries, medications or other shopping

Isolation notes will provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work.

As isolation notes can be obtained without contacting a doctor, this will reduce the pressure on GP surgeries and prevent people needing to leave their homes.

For the first seven days off work, employees can self-certify so they don’t need any evidence for their employer. After that, employers may ask for evidence of sickness absence. Where this is related to having symptoms of coronavirus or living with someone who has symptoms, the isolation note can be used to provide evidence of the advice to self-isolate.

People who need to claim Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance because of coronavirus will not be required to produce a fit note or an isolation note.

The notes can be accessed through the NHS Website and NHS 111 Online. After answering a few questions, an isolation note will be emailed to the user. If they don’t have an email address, they can have the note sent to a trusted family member or friend, or directly to their employer. The service can also be used to generate an isolation note on behalf of someone else.

Taking Holidays

Employers, employees and workers should be as flexible as they can about holiday during the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s a good idea to:

  • talk about any plans to use or cancel holiday during coronavirus as soon as possible
  • discuss why holiday might need to be taken or cancelled
  • listen to any concerns, either from staff or the employer
  • welcome and suggest ideas for other options
  • consider everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing
  • be aware that it’s a difficult time for both employers and staff

In most situations, employees and workers should use their paid holiday (‘statutory annual leave’) in their current leave year. This is 5.6 weeks in the UK.

This is important because taking holiday helps people:

  • get enough rest
  • keep healthy, both physically and mentally

If you have been furloughed because there is no work can request and take their holiday in the usual way, if their employer agrees. This includes bank holidays.

Furloughed workers must get their usual pay in full, for any holiday they take.

During the coronavirus pandemic, it may not be possible for everyone to take all their holiday entitlement during the current holiday year.

Employers should still be encouraging workers and employees to take their paid holiday. Employees and workers should also make requests for paid holiday throughout their holiday year, if possible.

The government has introduced a temporary new law allowing employees and workers to carry over up to 4 weeks’ paid holiday into their next 2 holiday leave years. This law applies for any holiday the employee or worker does not take because of coronavirus, for example if:

  • they’re self-isolating or too sick to take holiday before the end of their leave year
  • they’ve had to continue working and could not take paid holiday

They may also be able to carry over holiday if they’ve been ‘furloughed’ and cannot reasonably use it in their holiday year.

Some employers will already have an agreement to carry over paid holiday. This law does not affect any agreements already in place.

If an employee or worker leaves their job or is dismissed and has carried over paid holiday because of coronavirus, any untaken paid holiday must be added to their final pay (‘paid in lieu’).

Bank holidays are usually part of the legal minimum 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday.

Employers can still require employees and workers to take paid holiday on a bank holiday, unless they’re off sick. They must give employees or workers notice.

Employees and workers can also ask to take a day’s paid holiday on a bank holiday. If the employer agrees, they must get their usual pay in full.

If employees and workers are not sure if bank holidays need to be taken as paid holiday, they should:

  • check their contract
  • talk to their employer

If bank holidays cannot be taken off due to coronavirus, employees and workers should use the holiday at a later date in their leave year.

If this is not possible, bank holidays can be included in the 4 weeks’ paid holiday that can be carried over. This holiday can be taken at any time over the next 2 holiday leave years.

If employers do not already have an agreement in place, they can decide whether they’ll allow extra holiday (more than the 4 weeks’ paid holiday) to be carried over.

Extra holiday may include:

  • the remaining 1.6 weeks of statutory annual leave
  • holiday that’s more than the legal minimum

Employees and workers should check their employment contract or talk to their employer to find out what they’re entitled to.

If the workplace has a recognised trade union, or there are employee representatives who work with the employer on these matters, the employer should involve them in agreeing changes.

If any agreement is made, it’s a good idea for it to be in writing.

Employers should get legal advice if they’re not sure whether to allow extra holiday to be carried over.

An employee may no longer want to take time off they’d previously booked, for example because their hotel cancelled the booking. Their employer can insist they still take the time off, but it’s good practice to get agreement from the employee.

If the employee wants to change when they take this time off, they’ll need to get agreement from their employer.

Employers have the right to tell employees and workers when to take holiday.

An employer could, for example, shut for a week and tell everyone to use their holiday entitlement.

If the employer decides to do this, they must tell staff at least twice as many days before as the amount of days they need people to take.

For example, if they want to close for 5 days, they should tell everyone at least 10 days before.

Employers can also cancel pre-booked paid holiday. If they decide to do this, they must give staff at least the same number of days’ notice as the original holiday request.

For example, if an employee has booked 5 days holiday, the employer must tell them at least 5 days before the holiday starts that it’s cancelled.

This could affect holiday staff have already booked or planned and cause upset. So employers should:

  • explain clearly why they need to do this
  • try and resolve anyone’s worries about how it will affect their holiday entitlement or plans

 If you think you have developed coronavirus symptoms

If you becomes unwell in the workplace with coronavirus symptoms, you should:

  • tell your employer immediately and go home
  • avoid touching anything
  • cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if you do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow
  • use a separate bathroom from others, if possible

If you live alone, you must self-isolate for 7 days. If you live with others and are the first to have symptoms, you must self-isolate for 7 days. Everyone else in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.

If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms, the person with the new symptoms must self-isolate for 7 days. This is regardless of where they are in the 14-day isolation period.

If an employee needs time off work to look after someone

Employees are entitled to time off work to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependant’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This could apply to situations to do with coronavirus.

A dependant does not necessarily live with the person, for example they could be an elderly neighbour or relative who relies on the person for help.

There’s no statutory right to pay for this time off, but some employers might offer pay depending on the contract or workplace policy.

The amount of time off an employee takes to look after someone must be reasonable for the situation. For example, they might take 2 days off to start with, and if more time is needed, they can book holiday.

If a dependant such as a partner, child or relative in the same household gets coronavirus symptoms, they should receive Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as a minimum for this time.

What if I’m self-employed?

If you are self-employed and have had a loss of income, you can receive a taxable grant of 80% of your average monthly profits over the past three years – up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

Initially, this will be available for three months in one lump-sum payment, payable from June.

You can access the Coronavirus Self Employment Income Support Scheme. As long as you traded in the past financial year, are still trading now and plan to continue doing so.

Most of your income needs to come from self-employment and your average trading profit needs to have been less than £50,000 a year.

If you became self-employed since April 2019, you will not receive any help under this scheme. This is because you haven’t yet have filed a tax return, which is needed to help calculate financial support.

HMRC will contact those who are eligible.

This information was compiled by Sheffield Occupational Health Advisory Service (SOHAS). We are operating a telephone advice service at the current time. If you live and or work in Sheffield and you need advice on workplace health issues, please ring 0114 2755760 or go to our website and use the ask and expert tab to send a message.


Practical Steps for Working from Home

I’ve been working at home, like millions of other workers have been for the past 4 weeks, with family all around me. I’m lucky in that I have a room I can work in and when the door is shut, they know that I’m working and shouldn’t be disturbed. I have worked from home on an irregular basis for some time and I have got a set up that works for me.

What if you have never had to work from home and now here you are, not quite sure how long your new way of working will last?

When I first started to work from home, I used a laptop and sat at the dining table and soon found out this wasn’t ideal as it started to strain my back.  As worked from home more often, I used a desk that was in the spare room. If this isn’t an option, I would advise that you try not to use your bedroom. Your mind will start to associate working with the bedroom and this could affect your quality of sleep.

I use a laptop and the only way I could get it set up properly was to use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and put the laptop on top of some hardback books as they are sturdier. I followed the rule that your eyes should be level with the top of the screen and make sure that my upper arms are at 90 degrees to the desk and forearms are level with the keyboard. I have an adjustable chair which makes getting the right height easier, if you are using a dining room chair you  might have to sit on a cushion to get the right height and use a cushion for lower back support. This method works just as well if you are using a desktop and monitor. Sitting on a settee, armchair or edge of the bed is definitely not a good idea!

I found that surrounding myself with things that make me happy improves my mood and productivity, like pictures or paintings. If you can, choose a space with lots of natural light that can reduce eye strain and headaches.  I also found that if you mimic how your desk looks like at work that made it easier to complete my work.  If you work better with a cluttered desk, then continue to do that.

Research shows that you can easily work longer hours working from home compared to the office, so give yourself some clues of the time, whether that is having a clock in your vision or set an alarm on your phone.  Tracking your time will make you keep to regular time and help you to take regular breaks. You also need to make sure that you know when to stop work and “close the office door” for the day.

If you think that your health is being affected by your work and you live or work in Sheffield, we are operating a telephone advice service. Please go to our website and click on the “ask an expert” tab to leave a message or ring us on 0114 2755760