11 March 2022

Covid-19: Office safety guidance published

PCS escalates members' concerns as the phased return to the office continues, and publishes guidance on staying safe in the workplace.

PCS has received a number of concerns around returning to the office and the increased potential for contracting Covid-19. The majority of these concerns relate to increased occupancy levels and removal of the previous social distancing capacity limits. PCS has discussed these concerns with HMRC and ensured an awareness of members’ anxieties, which are understandable given the continued prevalence of Covid-19 across the UK.

Since returns to the office in England and Scotland started from 28 February, there has been an increase in the number of positive Covid-19 cases in HMRC offices. PCS closely monitors the number of Covid-19 cases and has requested Serious Incident Protocol meetings in four offices so far, following relatively high positive case numbers.

Existing Covid-19 policies will remain in place until the end of March and everyone returning to the office must have had a 1-to-1 discussion with their manager in line with the toolkit document. Anyone who needs longer working from home due to particular vulnerabilities or caring requirements should complete the Supported Return Plan, which is also part of the toolkit.

New case process

A new Covid-19 case process has recently been implemented for HMRC workplaces. Where someone has tested positive but has not been in the office within the previous 72 hours, the building management team will report the case to HR and take no further action. Where a positive individual has been in the office during the previous 72 hours, the building management team will report the case to HR and issue an all-users email to the site to notify everyone. This is in addition to any enhanced cleaning required or other building safety measures.

Workplace safety measures

PCS has been made aware that not all workplace Covid-19 safety measures are being adhered to. Following the removal of some safety measures, PCS has published guidance regarding the steps that should still be taken at all HMRC workplaces to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of yourselves and your colleagues.