Stevens & Bolton LLP are planning to resume office based working at Wey House from 14 September 2020 and will shortly be consulting with staff about these proposals. Our primary aim is to keep all staff, clients and other visitors of the firm as safe as possible whilst working from or visiting our premises.
Staff would initially return to the office on the basis of a phased return, with staff and partners working in fixed teams on set days each week, and with no more than 50% of staff on site on any one day. We will also be implementing a number of other measures, in line with government guidance. When the rota to which individuals are assigned indicates they should not be in the office, then they will continue to work from home. A small number of staff will continue to work from home full-time for the foreseeable future, for example those who have been shielding.
In advance of our return to the office, we have arranged an independent audit to ensure that we are offering a safe working environment that is fully compliant with all national guidelines.
We will 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 an 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 the person 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 also ask clients and visitors to confirm upon arrival, that none of the points set out above apply to them.
- Clients will 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 mention to clients that if they are at higher risk (e.g. due to an underlying condition) then they should also consider whether to attend the meeting in person.
Law Society guidance advises that clients are not required to wear a face covering whilst on our premises, including during meetings. However, clients of course are welcome to do so and disposable masks are available from our reception if anyone requires one. Our staff are not required to wear face coverings although they may do so if they wish. 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, our staff 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 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.
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. There is also signage around our offices to assist with social distancing. Hand sanitiser 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 clients met with at our office tests positive for Covid-19 shortly after the meeting, we will notify the client. If any client tests positive for Covid-19 within a week of meeting any our staff, we will ask them to let their contact at Stevens & Bolton know as soon as possible.
In addition, we have taken the following further measures in preparation for our staff returning to work from Wey House, in order to ensure, so far as possible, that our premises are Covid-19 secure.
All our people will have read and agreed to comply with the guidelines relating to Covid-19 in advance of their return to the office in September. The guidelines are being issued following a firm-wide consultation process with staff. We are maintaining a central HR record to indicate all staff have read and agreed to comply with the relevant guidelines.
Any new Government guidance will be promptly reviewed and, where relevant, our processes will be aligned to these as soon as practically possible. Staff will be informed of any relevant changes.
We have in place a detailed Risk Assessment in relation to preventing the spread of Covid-19 in our workplace and will have 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 staff on our Intranet.
Staff are aware that they must not attend work if they or anyone in their household or support bubble have any symptoms of Covid-19 and that they are then required to self-isolate. We encourage all staff to take a test if they have any symptoms of Covid-19.
We ask all staff to advise HR and their Head of Department if they have any symptoms of Covid-19 when reporting their absence from work. If they then 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.
All of our lawyers are fully equipped and set up to work effectively from home.