Regulated Entities – New Draft Guidance from Isle of Man Government for return to the office where working from home is not possible
The Authority notes that Isle of Man Government (IOMG) continues to require employers take all necessary steps to allow employees to work from home and where this is possible this should continue.
The current restrictions currently provide that employers must ensure “so far as it is practicable that persons at the premises are able to remain at least 2 metres away from any other person.” Additionally they “must ensure that no more persons are present at any one time than is necessary for the effective operation of the business.”
In light of the move towards a medium term response, it is recognised that the effective operation over a sustained period might require some further onsite presence and businesses may wish to start considering how to phase back some of the roles which are currently being performed remotely. It is also recognised businesses may want to implement measures to effect longer term social distancing operations such as desk reconfiguration and this may require additional facilities staff and professional trades to attend.
In support of this medium term response, IOMG has produced further guidance that all employers of office-based businesses must consider before allowing employees to return. The earliest date for such a return is 25 May 2020 but this date is subject to confirmation nearer to the date. The Authority notes and fully supports this guidance.
The guidance is accompanied by a draft example Template Risk Assessment which usefully identifies;
- general Identified Hazard/s;
- Persons Considered at Risk from such hazards; and
- suggested Control Measures.
Specific considerations for regulated entities
In responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic regulated entities have activated their business continuity arrangements and, wherever possible, this has meant employees working from home. The Authority’s general requirements are that regulated entities should have appropriate risk management policies and procedures. We would expect entities to undertake a risk assessment prior to commencing any return to the office. This should include a consideration of their Health and Safety obligations to employees and any third parties who may attend the premises. Regulated entities should review the IOMG Guidance and use this to inform their considerations.
Where regulated entities are returning employees to the office, the Authority views this as the next stage in those entities business continuity planning arrangements and thus their plans should be updated to reflect the risks and strategies associated with this change in working arrangements. Furthermore, entities should consider their key operational controls and decision making processes. These should be reviewed and updated to reflect any change in the balance between remote and onsite working from the arrangements that are currently in place.
Regulated entities are reminded that they should contact the Authority immediately about any difficulties that may cause an interruption to their services to clients or endanger their ability to continue. There are also standard notification requirements in the regulatory frameworks which should be met where practicable.
Finally, the Authority would stress that there is no requirement to return to office-based working and businesses must continue to allow staff to work from home wherever possible. If working from home is not possible entities should only allow staff to return to the office if they can provide a safe office environment to work in.