As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease and legislation is replaced by guidance, employers should be aware of the following updated guidance published by the HSE and ICO:
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have published revised advice to workplaces regarding COVID-19 which you can find here.
The advice notes that COVID-19 will remain a public health issue and that guidance for workplaces is being replaced with public health advice which is due to be reviewed by the HSE again on 30 April 2022. Here are the key points:
- The HSE no longer requires every business to consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments or to have specific COVID-19-related measures in place (although there are some exceptions in respect of those who come into contact with COVID-19 due to the nature of their work).
- Compliance with general health and safety law continues to apply to all employers (as it did pre pandemic) and employers must continue to consult workers and their representatives on any changes they make that might affect health and safety.
- Employers should continue to have regard to available guidance on protecting those who may be at higher risk from COVID-19 and on vaccinations, including advice from public health bodies and other government departments.
As the exact advice varies across the 4 nations, employers should check the relevant position and timescales for the nation they are operating in.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published updated guidance for organisations in light of the relaxation of COVID-19 measures which you can find here. Here are the key points:
- Any emergency practices put in place in response to the pandemic which involve the collection of data should be reviewed to help you decide if it is still necessary to collect such information. Organisations should ensure that it is still reasonable, fair, and proportionate to the current circumstances, taking the latest government guidance into account.
- Organisations should assess any additional information collected and retained during the pandemic and any information that is no longer required should be securely disposed of.
- Any organisations who are continuing to collect vaccine information for staff should make sure they are still compliant with any data protection obligations including the lawful basis for processing as some legislation may have expired and therefore “legal obligation” may no longer apply. As a person’s vaccination status is health data, it is classed as special category data which requires extra protection. Therefore, organisations must also identify an Article 9 condition for processing this information.
For more Covid-19 guidance visit the dedicated section of the resource hub here.