The Ministry of Justice and Public Health England have jointly released guidance to companies like ours (and the professionals who work for us) detailing how we should be operating in a post covid world.
As we have explained, Court Enforcement Specialists have been ‘on it’ from day one regarding all covid regulations, proactively leading the way in ensuring everyone’s safety.
That said, official guidance from national bodies such as MoJ and PHE make it all the clearer going forwards.
Protecting lives and livelihoods across the United Kingdom remains the main priority for the Government, even as restrictions have been lifted, but what does this mean for our industry?
As the threat from coronavirus hasn’t disappeared overnight, and because its spread is on the rise again, it is important that everyone associated with or affected by our industry and the work we do, is kept up to date about how companies like ours can and will be operating.
In order to work safely throughout the pandemic, including now that restrictions have been lifted, the following measures will remain in place:
Preventing Transmission – In order to limit the potential for the spread of transmission, enforcement agents should carry out dynamic risk assessments before each visit or assignment, withdrawing if anyone’s safety becomes a concern at any point.
Raising voices should also be avoided to further prevent potential transmission.
Fixed pairs or teams should remain in place throughout each assignment to avoid the unnecessary mixing of different individuals.
It should go without saying that any agent who is symptomatic or identified as a close contact by Test and Trace should self isolate. They should also do this if a member of their household becomes symptomatic. It is the law that a person who develops symptoms must isolate and arrange a PCR test before coming back to work or out of self isolation.
As of the 16th August 2021, a fully vaccinated person will no longer be required to isolate if identified as a close contact by Test and Trace. They should still arrange a PCR test though.
At #TeamCES we have been routinely testing our agents with lateral flow tests and will continue to do so.
· Enforcement at residential properties – When enforcing at residential properties, enforcement agents should make every attempt to contact the person/s involved ahead of the visit date. This can include telephone contact.
On arrival at a residential property, the agent should introduce themselves and ask if any member of the household has a positive coronavirus case, and/or of they are displaying any symptoms. Agents should also be on the look out for any of the symptoms associated with the illness. If any of the above situations are observed or confirmed, agents should withdraw from the visit, leaving their details in a safe and socially distanced manner, such as by waiting for the individual to return inside and then posting details through a letter box.
Return visits should be arranged and in all cases, these should be no sooner than when the period pf isolation finishes.
If and when an agent is able to enter a property, as long as it has been established that there are no cases of coronavirus or symptomatic members of the household, the following should be observed: maintaining distance, use of PPE, minimal contact with householders, minimal contact with surfaces and objects, ensuring interactions are kept to well ventilated areas, good hand hygiene followed.
Enforcement at commercial premises – Agents should follow all measures put in place by the respective setting.
· Vulnerability – When considering using the Taking Control of Goods legislation, agents should make considerations for how the covid pandemic has affected a person’s circumstances, as in whether they have tested positive for coronavirus or have been self isolating. Some ethnic groups may have been more seriously affected and more likely to have suffered serious or severe illness.
As ever, all usual legislation should be observed, with vulnerable debtors signposted to the correct channels of support where appropriate.
· Hygiene and PPE – The threat of coronavirus infection remains prevalent and serious. As such, enforcement agents are advised to continue using face masks, especially in poorly ventilated areas. It is also advised that agents should have with them the following items of PPE – (fluid repellant surgical masks, eye protection e.g. goggles, disposable gloves).
PPE should be readily available for enforcement agents, either on their person or within the vehicle. All used PPE should be safely disposed of following its use.
Good hand hygiene procedures, such as avoiding touching the face and regular hand sanitisation, should be followed and promoted at all times.
Shared vehicles should be sanitised on a daily basis as a minimum, or in between changes of user as required.
NHS Test and Trace – All agents should follow NHS Test and Trace advice, informing of any symptoms, booking PCR tests and isolating whenever instructed to do so.
· Employers – As an employer, #TeamCES is committed to the following: ensuring agents are up to speed with all coronavirus legislation, encouraging agents to book both vaccinations and take part in regular lateral flow testing, equipping agents with appropriate PPE free of charge and following all government guidance to ensure safe working practices and environments for all.
Risk Assessments – All coronavirus risk assessments should be carried out in advance of each assignment, regularly updated and adhered to by all.
All employees and enforcement agents need information, instruction and training on how to implement risk assessments, including how to carry out dynamic risk assessments.
· More Information – More information on all of the above is available from the following links:
#TeamCES support all of the above measures, and will continue to operate in accordance with them for the foreseeable.