Coming out of lockdown

Vision Foundation Webinar: Navigating the Waters Post Lockdown

This week we welcomed more than 50 participants to our first virtual webinar focusing on how organisations working with blind and partially sighted people can navigate coming out of lockdown. We brought together three experts in employment law, insurance and business planning and accessibility:

Peter McCorkell, Senior Associate at Sidley Austin LLP,

Victoria Currey, Senior HR Business Partner at Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM)

Natalie Doig, Scope’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Advisor, member of TfL’s Independent Disability Advisory Group and Accessibility Consultant.

The hour passed very quickly with each speaker sharing their main thoughts and considerations and then taking questions on the practicalities of re-starting face-to-face operations and inviting staff, volunteers and service users into workplaces.

You can watch the entire webinar below:

The key themes to emerge from the speakers and questions were:

Preparation

  • Assess the risks of your workplace and environment – these will be bespoke to your location, environment.
  • Carry out a thorough risk assessment following government guidance.

Consult with staff and volunteers

  • Inform them about the changes to the physical spaces
  • Consider ways of communicating the changes: a webinar, a video, a podcast or written instructions, etc..
  • Understand how your staff and volunteers will be planning to get to your workplace – do you need more space for parking, or cycle spaces?

Support your staff and volunteers to commit to the changes in place

  • Make sure there are clear signs, and information in accessible formats
  • Be aware habits will be hard to change
  • In some situations consider making changes to your disciplinary policy – making it clear there are repercussions to any breaches

Remember your legal obligations as an employer

  • The furlough scheme has now moved passed the first phase, now in second phase of extension to October
  • There is a proportionate approach that everyone can take – important to remember the legal position that underpins the return to work
  • Remember your statutory obligation of health and wellbeing of employees and volunteers
  • Any breach of the health and safety regulations could lead to consequences (fines, or even imprisonment)

The Equality Act still counts

  • The Health & Safety considerations surrounding covid should still take this into account
  • Everyone must continue to make reasonable adjustments, e.g. perspex screens need some visual indicators so visually impaired people know they’re there – some tape around the edges, dots to make them more obvious.

Natalie Doig, as a member of TfL’s Independent Disability Advisory Group, also shared some useful information which you can find here.