In line with current government guidelines on office working, our people are generally working remotely at the present time. We have, however, made our office premises a Covid-19 secure environment that enables access for our people and our clients when we cannot operate effectively on a remote basis.
Our primary aim is to keep all our people, our clients and other visitors of the firm as safe as possible whilst working from or visiting our premises. Our people are able to access the office premises in fixed teams on set days each week, with no more than 50% of our people on site on any one day. We have also implemented a number of other safety measures, in line with government guidance. An independent auditor has verified the steps we have taken and has certified that our office premises offer a safe working environment that is fully compliant with all national guidelines.
We continue to hold client meetings remotely using video conferencing. However, where required, face to face client meetings may take place at our offices. If clients are attending a meeting at our offices, they will be sent a link by email before the meeting requesting and providing information as set out below:
- Clients will be asked to confirm that they do not currently have any symptoms of Covid-19 (namely a fever, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to their sense of taste or smell) and that they have not experienced any such symptoms in the last 14 days. If anyone visiting our premises or someone in their household or support bubble has any Covid-19 symptoms or has recently tested positive for Covid-19 or if they have been in recent contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 or if they have returned from a high risk country within the last 14 days, they will be asked not to attend the meeting in person. In that case, we would make alternative arrangements for the meeting.
- Our reception staff will ask clients and visitors to confirm upon arrival, that none of the points set out above apply to them.
- Clients will also be asked to confirm if they or someone they live with is extremely clinically vulnerable (i.e. if they or someone they live with were shielding before 1 August 2020). If so, we strongly recommend that they do not attend the meeting in person and that we arrange a meeting by video conference instead. We will also suggest to clients that if they are at higher risk (e.g. due to an underlying condition), they should also consider whether to attend the meeting in person.
Our current policy is for our people and clients to wear a face covering whilst moving around our premises. Disposable masks are available from our reception where required. However, clients do not have to wear a face covering during meetings unless they wish to. If clients would like the person meeting with them to wear a face covering, we will ask them to let us know in advance and, where possible, we will accommodate this.
Clients will be asked to use the hand sanitiser available at the entry of the building (including in the car parking area) and at reception.
We have installed protective screens by the reception desk and reception will sign clients in. Clients will be asked to provide their full name and contact details to reception in case these are needed for NHS Test and Trace purposes. If we are asked to do so, we will provide clients’ name and contact details to NHS Test and Trace. We also ask all visitors to use the NHS Test and Trace app when entering the office building.
Clients will be shown to the waiting room where a limited of number of seats will be available in line with current guidelines on social distancing. Where practical, clients may be directed to proceed directly to the meeting room. Capacity has been reduced for all of our meeting rooms, again in line with the government guidelines on social distancing. Only where the meeting is reasonably necessary for work purposes and where the meeting room is large enough, may more than 6 people meet together in the same meeting room. There is also signage around our offices to assist with social distancing. Hand sanitisers will be available in all rooms.
Refreshments (tea, coffee, water and individually wrapped biscuits) will be available on a self-service basis. Clients are also welcome to bring their own food and drink.
Meeting rooms are cleaned regularly and there is at least a 15 minute gap between meetings to facilitate cleaning.
If we become aware that any person a client meets with at our office tests positive for Covid-19 shortly after the meeting, we will notify you straightaway. If any client tests positive for Covid-19 within a week of meeting any our people, we ask them to let their contact at Stevens & Bolton know as soon as possible.
In addition, we have taken the following further measures to enable our people to work at our offices where they need to and to ensure that our premises remain Covid-19 secure:
- All our people have read and agreed to comply with our guidelines relating to Covid-19. The guidelines were issued following a firm-wide consultation process with staff.
- Any new government guidance will be promptly reviewed and, where relevant, our processes will be aligned to these as soon as practically possible. Our people will be informed of any material changes.
- We have in place a detailed Risk Assessment in relation to preventing the spread of Covid-19 in our workplace and we consulted with staff on this prior to their return to the office.
- We have procedures in place to facilitate NHS Test and Trace if there is a confirmed case of Covid-19.
- We have published a comprehensive suite of Covid-19 guidance that is available to all our people on our Intranet.
- Our people are aware that they must not attend work if they or anyone in their household or support bubble have any symptoms of Covid-19 or have tested positive for Covid-19 and that they are then required to self-isolate. We encourage all our people to take a test if they have any symptoms of Covid-19.
- We ask all our people to advise HR and their Head of Department if they have any symptoms of Covid-19 or if they have tested positive for Covid-19 when reporting their absence from work. If those with symptoms take a Covid-19 test, we ask them to let us know the outcome as soon as possible. If a Covid-19 case is confirmed we will advise immediate colleagues as appropriate and, if required, will report this to Public Health England. We will also co-operate with NHS Test and Trace.
- We have increased cleaning at our premises, with a particular focus on high touch areas. Sanitiser gel is available through the building.
- Additional measures have been taken in communal areas, such as toilets and staff kitchens to aid social distancing.
- Where necessary protective screens have been installed and no hot-desking is currently permitted.
Stevens & Bolton