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To have a different set of rules for myself and employees

(138 Posts)
meelafameela Sun 22-Nov-20 11:27:57

I run a seasonal business for example making soap gift sets (very similar but what I do is niche and outing)

I run this with my partner and we have just got to the point of hiring for the first time after running this for 3 years.

In order to hire my partner and I will have to take a big pay cut to the point where we will live on bare minimum and all of our employees packing the soaps will be on significantly more than us.

My partner and I will work for the next 4 weeks 120h a week.

Due to COVID we have been recommended to close the office kitchen so the microwave, toaster, fridge will be out of use. In usual times we would be happy everyone using, but due to COVID we want to reduce cross contamination. We want a rule where the office kitchen is closed to employees. But my partner and I still want to use these. Is this being unreasonable.

My one treat a day is to buy a take away coffee. I can leave at any point during the day to get this, but I can't give my employees that same flexibility. I also can't afford to ask them if they would like a coffee. They will have breaks to do as they wish but they can't just leave whenever to get a take away coffee. Is this being unreasonable? Employees are all around 25 hours a week.They will all still have access to the kettle.

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SoddingWeddings Sun 22-Nov-20 11:31:02

It's illegal.

As an employer, you have a legal obligation to provide welfare facilities for employees including access to make a hot drink, prepare hot food, sit and rest during their breaks at a table on a seat with a backrest etc.

www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/workplace-facilities/welfare.htm

And yes, it's criminal law.

PinkPlantCase Sun 22-Nov-20 11:33:36

I know lots of office that have ketch their kitchen open but with a much better cleaning regimes. One person at a time, masks must be worn etc. All very workable

HilaryBriss Sun 22-Nov-20 11:34:34

So your employees will see you and your partner using the office kitchen but they won't be able to? Yes, I think YABU. If its out of bounds for one, it should be out if bounds for all.

MarchionessofActon Sun 22-Nov-20 11:34:43

I think if you’re going to be on the bare minimum the takeaway coffee might have to go.

flowerycurtain Sun 22-Nov-20 11:38:17

Why not just have one person at a time in the kitchen and clean before and after?

user137425689631 Sun 22-Nov-20 11:38:59

That link doesn't say employers must provide the means to prepare hot meals, just drinking water and somewhere to rest and eat food.

meelafameela Sun 22-Nov-20 11:39:44

@SoddingWeddings my employees will be able to sit, the will be able to make a hot drink. We are leaving the kettle. They will have drinking water and somewhere to rest and eat meals. It was our advisor who said that either close the kitchen or only allow one bubble to use it. The problem is that our employees are here for 25h a week and we are here for 120h. All we will be eating is toast. We have met everything on the link you set. It is not a legal requirement for there to be facilities to make a hot meal.

I also want to say that we have a lovely work environment and all our employees are on living wage.

@MarchionessofActon it is my decision to buy one take away coffee 5 days a week. The filter coffee in pretty is so inexpensive. Its a ritual for me to get away from the office for 15m.

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GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Sun 22-Nov-20 11:39:52

What extra covid risk does a kitchen pose? Soap and hot water, hand sanitiser, cleaning products, social distancing and masks should all by in place to minimise risk rather that just closing it to everyone else but you and your partner. Why won’t you be at risk?

Blahblahface Sun 22-Nov-20 11:40:04

Why do you need to close the kitchen?! Just have a one person in at a time rule like everyone else has managed with for the last six months.

If you want to build resentment between you and your employees, then carry on as you are. All you are going to do is upset your employees and end up losing good staff or finding them very short of good will.

Hopoindown31 Sun 22-Nov-20 11:40:15

First reply is correct. You need to provide rest areas as part of your duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and subordinate regulations and yes, this is criminal law.

The guidance is clear that you need to make sure you take appropriate steps to ensure that employees can use these facilities safely during COVID-19. Closing them is not considered an acceptable action as it breaches your duty of care.

So I'd suggest you think about what measures you can put in place to ensure safety and keep the facilities accessible to your employee.

Even though it is not a requirement for a business of your size afaik, I'd recommend you do a written COVID risk assessment so you are clear about what you need to do to make the workplace safe. There is plenty of guidance on line on how to do this.

Also, even though it is not a requirement due to your small size, I would recommend that you consider having at least a written H&S policy and key method statements and risk assessments for key activities.

meelafameela Sun 22-Nov-20 11:40:20

meant to say pretty cheap

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DioneTheDiabolist Sun 22-Nov-20 11:41:58

OP, it would ultimately be detrimental to your business to do this. It shows lack of leadership and integrity and sets a precedent for Rule Breaking from day 1.

At best it will be confusing. At worst it will cause I'll feeling and impact the attitude and work ethic of your employees I dont think that's what you want. YABU.

meelafameela Sun 22-Nov-20 11:42:08

@Hopoindown31 rest areas are not closed. We have all the health and safety requirements. Risk assessments etc. We are not breaking any law I was sure of that it is more on moral grounds. I don't want to be seen to be cheeky. We could do one in at a time to the kitchen and everyone washes.

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meelafameela Sun 22-Nov-20 11:43:26

@GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat its the microwave and toaster we have been recommended to keep off limits. I know other companies have have closed the whole kitchen. We are keeping partial kitchen open.

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Thehop Sun 22-Nov-20 11:43:46

My work are making us eat our lunch on our break in our cars and we aren’t allowed to use a microwave. We have to bring tea in a flask, and eat wherever we could find a space to sit and perch with lunch on our knee before we got told to go to our cars and freeze.

AaronPurr Sun 22-Nov-20 11:44:26

I can't believe you're moaning about living on the bare minimum, yet will still happily waste money on takeaway coffee. confused

As for the kitchen surely it makes mroe sense to have enhanced cleaning after each use, rather than banning all employees from using it?

meelafameela Sun 22-Nov-20 11:44:48

I think what I will do is keep it open but have more strict one at a time use rules and cleaning after

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Hopoindown31 Sun 22-Nov-20 11:45:03

OP, as long as you are confident that you are able to provide your duty of care then you can shut what you like.

As for using facilities that you have shut to employees. That is hardly leading by example is it? Directors flaunting H&S measures is not a good look is it?

FatGirlShrinking Sun 22-Nov-20 11:45:36

Rename the kitchen as your office.

I've worked in plenty of places where all you're provided is a rest area with a kettle which you plan to provide, there is no requirement that you provide cooking facilities like a toaster or microwave, that is an additional extra that some employers provide.

Will they have a fridge for milk for tea/coffee and to store their sandwiches?

If they have a kettle, access to drinking water, access to toilet facilities and somewhere decent to sit on their break then you are fulfilling the requirements as an employer.

The popping out once a day for a drink is a non issue as far as I'm concerned, they can do that themselves on their scheduled break if they wish to. As the employer and working different hours you have different breaks and different responsibilities.

NameChChChChChanges Sun 22-Nov-20 11:45:45

Who has advised you?

As long as you carry out a risk assessment and put any necessary, reasonable safety measures in place, there is no need to close the kitchen.

You can tell people to access it one at a time, and provide cleaning products so they can clean up after themselves.

It's sort of like the staff toilets. You obviously wouldn't close these off would you, you would just make sure people are cleaning after themselves.

Hopoindown31 Sun 22-Nov-20 11:45:49

My work are making us eat our lunch on our break in our cars and we aren’t allowed to use a microwave. We have to bring tea in a flask, and eat wherever we could find a space to sit and perch with lunch on our knee before we got told to go to our cars and freeze.

Do you have a union rep?

PinkiOcelot Sun 22-Nov-20 11:47:01

I’ve been at work since first lockdown and have had use of “kitchen” facilities (use term lightly as only water boiler and microwave). Everyone else (20+) has also had use of it. No problems whatsoever.

InTheLongGrass Sun 22-Nov-20 11:47:15

Are the employees working staggered shifts covering all the time you/DH are at work?
Can you use the kitchen facilities after they leave for the day?

If they all have the opportunity to use their break to get a takeaway coffee, I dont see the problem with that, but I think it would be pretty demoralizing to see (and smell) the boss heating up a meal while I ate a slightly wilted sandwich from home.

meelafameela Sun 22-Nov-20 11:47:39

@AaronPurr it costs 99p from pret. Its £5 a week and that is my special treat. I am setting the scene with my situation, I chose this situation and I still choose it. I am not complaining.

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