(Updated: 4/11/2020 – the guidance below is based on rules set out by the government for England. While much of the advice will apply across the UK, those living in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should consult guidance from their devolved administrations to ensure they are abiding by local rules and legislation)
As we are all aware, much of the UK has returned to lockdown, which limits people’s movements and means that in most circumstances the only people who should be in a home are those who permanently live there. However, there are certain circumstances where inviting someone else into your home is unavoidable, such as if you have an electrical or plumbing problem.
Many Buy With Confidence members are available to help with these situations, although at this time it is not possible for us to detail which Buy With Confidence businesses are still taking work, or which types of work they are accepting. Although the government is encouraging as many people to keep working as possible, many small businesses are either not operating (for example because workers need to self isolate, or because the law has directed their premises to close) or are only providing a limited service (such as solely taking on emergency work).
As per government guidance for businesses that do work in people’s homes, it is up to them on a case-by-case basis what work they are happy to take on, if any. This may depend on things such as their assessment of the potential risk to themselves or others, their ability to source the materials needed for the job, as well as taking into account the work’s ‘essential’ nature. Therefore. if you do have a job that needs doing in your home, you will need to contact the business to discuss whether they are happy to take on the work at this time. They may need to ask you more questions than you would normally expect in order for them to do a proper risk assessment.
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Things to keep in mind when having a worker in your home
If you are worried about having workers in your home during the current situation, we suggest keeping the following things in mind (which is based on Government Guidance for businesses in England, correct at 04/11/20):
- Consider whether there is a way to achieve the same thing without someone coming into your home, or having them in your home for a shorter amount of time. For example, it may be possible to use remote working tools such as Skype to help with preparation for a job, or a quicker (yet still safe) interim solution could be used while delaying a final fix until restrictions are loosened).
- Discuss any concerns you have with the business while arranging the job. All businesses should have conducted a risk assessment to ensure they are sufficiently mitigating risks in line with government guidance and should be able to discuss this with you.
- The worker(s) coming into your home should be well and showing no symptoms of COVID-19, however mild.
- You should ensure that while the worker(s) are in your house, you maintain social distancing of at least two metres. Only absolutely necessary participants should attend appointments and should maintain 2m separation where possible. While workers are at the home, it is preferable to conduct any face-to-face meetings/discussion about work outside (for example in a garden), and for residents to be in a different room to where the work is taking place as it is done. It is preferable for both customer and worker to wear masks when appropriate.
- No work should be carried out in any household which is self isolating, unless it is to remedy a direct risk to the safety of the household, such as emergency plumbing or repairs, and where the tradesperson is willing to do so.
- Extra care should be taken in households that contain someone who may be particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, such as those who are over 70 or who have heart conditions. Vulnerable people should stay in a separate, closed room to where work takes place and the area where work is taking place should be thoroughly cleaned both before and afterwards. In these circumstances it will be particularly important to heighten other measures, such as wearing masks and increasing ventilation as much as possible.
- Windows and doors should be left open wherever possible, whilst the worker is in the house.
- Try to limit shared objects (i.e. what they touch in your home). For example, they should use their own equipment where possible – this includes simple things such as pens – and only eat food and drink they bring with them.
- There is currently no list of which jobs can and cannot be carried out by tradespeople in people’s homes, however both the householder and business should consider how important it is to get the job done and any risk associated with this.
- Householders and businesses should be mindful of all other social distancing guidance to minimise contact transmission of COVID-19, such as hand washing.
- Any area where a tradesperson is working should be cleaned regularly and all waste should be removed at the end of each shift and the end of the job (if there is likely to be extensive waste, the householder and business may need to discuss ahead of time how waste will be safely removed).
- If you feel it is best to leave the home (including leaving any gardens and associated premises) while the worker is in your house, ensure the business is someone you trust and be mindful of the security of your belongings. You should also discuss your intentions with the business ahead of time to ensure they are also happy with this arrangement. You must also remember that you and others in your household can only be outside your home for certain reasons, and these vary depend on which nation of the UK you live in. On its own, having a tradesperson in your home is not a valid reason for you to leave your house, so you would need to ensure you have a permitted reason to be away from your home while the worker is there. Official guidance does NOT recommend leaving your home if you have workers there, just that you should maintain social distancing and limit face-to-face contact to times and people where it is absolutely necessary.
- If you are worried and the work that needs doing is not an emergency situation, consider delaying it until restrictions are eased.
- It may also be worth reading the guidance the government has provided to businesses that work in people’s homes. This should give you a fuller idea of both what you and they should be considering and the risk assessments that should be made. The guidance is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/homes
- Guidance for other types of businesses and workplaces, such as shops, offices and construction sites is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19