Non-Essential Retailers: 6 Things to remember when reopening

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Outdoor markets and car showrooms have been permitted to open from 1st June and, from 15th June 2020, shops selling clothes, shoes, toys and furniture will be reopening too.

Employers will need to prepare for the reopening of their workplaces by ensuring they are taking all necessary steps to protect their workers. This includes complying with existing health and safety, employment, and equality laws as well as taking account of the Government’s updated COVID-19 secure guidelines, which were issued on 25 May 2020.

Here are some things to remember:

1. Facilitate social distancing in store

  • Limit the number of customers in the store at any one time
  • Rethink how assistance is provided to customers whilst maintaining a social distance
  • Encourage customers to shop alone, unless they need assistance
  • Implement queue management and a one-way flow, where possible
  • Designate ‘self-isolation’ wardens to remind customers to social distance
  • Promote online shopping

2. Make outside queuing safe

  • Use outside premises for queuing where available and safe to do so. For example, using car parks.
  • Liaise with local authorities and landlords about doing this safely and to discuss any impact on public spaces.

3. No fitting rooms

  • Fitting rooms should be closed (unless you can clean between each use, delay return of tried on clothes to the shop floor and suspend fitting assistance)
  • Limit customer handling of merchandise (e.g. by use of new signage, different display methods)

4. Implement new return procedures

  • Implement no contact return procedures e.g. requiring customers to return goods to a designated area with contactless refunds.
  • Quarantine returned goods for a period of time.

5. Clean, clean, clean

  • Ensure frequent cleaning of self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines, staff handheld devices.

6. Beware of potential employment issues 

While the updated guidance doesn’t directly address the employment rights obligations, there are also potential issues we foresee arising as retailers re-open. These include:

  • Staff may refuse to travel by public transport because of vulnerability, illness, or fear of infection.
  • There may be time-keeping problems as a result and/or because of delays caused by public transport overload as more organisations reopen.
  • Consideration of new shift patterns and flexible working is likely to be needed, particularly as adhering to the new guidance may mean that the full workforce cannot to return to work immediately.
  • Staff may not adhere to the new guidance whilst in work.
  • Staff may raise concerns that their employer, their colleagues, or customers are not following the Government guidance e.g. in relation to social distancing.

Please note that this list is not exhaustive. If you would like assistance on any of the above matters, we have an experienced and dedicated employment law team who can guide you through any issues which arise. Please get in touch for more information.