Yeh, so that whole 2021 being better than 2020 thing isn’t quite working out yet is it...
We know that every person working within Early Years is having, without doubt, the most logistically, professionally, and mentally challenging start to a calendar year in sector memory. The recent lockdown announcement, coming on the tail of a year of pandemic hell, has left setting staff and management in an invidious position, with tough decisions to be made every day. Prioritising the welfare and safeguarding of the children in your setting, while also guaranteeing the safety of your staff and their families, has never been more complex.
Meanwhile, with all hands to the deck in those settings that are remaining open, while other practitioners are unable to work due to difficult decisions to furlough staff, Early Years sector esteem is at an all-time low— and stress an all-time high.
Finally, adding to this the difficult financial decisions to be made for setting managers and owners to ensure business and service continuity, this is probably the most difficult professional period most will have endured.
Because of these acute and unprecedented pressures, and with the recent surge in Covid19 cases and its increased sector impact, That Nursery Life has decided to change gears from our original plans for the first months of this year.
In addition to more content, designed to be supportive, around mental and physical health and wellbeing, we also want to offer practical tools to help ease the decision making and administrative burden during what, in a normal year (remember those?!), would still be a stressful period. We are providing these new assets free where we can, or as cheaply as possible, applying major discounts on key tools.
On top of this risk assessment, and our content promoting sector welfare, we are delighted to announce that we will be making available a series of Policy Packs designed to reduce your time spent writing, checking and finalising Setting Policies by a factor of 50, with downloadable templates populated with all of the details bespoke to your setting. They will allow you to update your key policies in a matter of minutes, not hours.
Firstly, however, we have below our free ‘How To’ on conducting risk assessments for pregnant employees in your setting. Let’s get into it!
As an employer, you know that your duty is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your staff in general. But what extra steps need to be taken for pregnant employees?
For an employee who is pregnant, has given birth in the past six months, or is breastfeeding, the physiological changes involved can put them at a higher level of risk than other employees.
When considering risk from any infectious or contagious disease, a high level of risk at work is deemed to be that which is in addition to the level to which an expectant employee, or an employee who has recently given birth, may be exposed to outside the workplace.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been advised that pregnant workers follow strict social distancing to reduce the risk of severe illness. Some pregnant workers will be at greater risk of severe illness from coronavirus. They are defined as clinically extremely vulnerable and they should stay at home as much as possible and work from home if they can. If working from home is not possible (which is likely, given the nature of Early Years’ work) pregnant workers should be placed on paid leave.
Unsure of how to proceed with a pregnant worker? Follow our workflow below:
Question 1 - How many weeks pregnant is the employee?
If less than 30 weeks, go to Question 2.
If 30 weeks or more, go to Question 4.
Question 2 - Does the employee have any relevant additional medical conditions? Such as:
If no, go to Question 3.
If yes, go to Question 4.
Question 3 - Can the employee stay at least six feet away from other staff members and children while at work (for example, being reallocated to office work rather than face-to-face with children)?
If no, go to Question 4.
If yes, the employee should be able to still work in-setting, as long as general precautions are taken (masks, hand sanitiser, etc.) and provided that both employee and employer feel comfortable with their level of safety.
Question 4 - Can the employee work from home?
If yes, arrangements should be made for the employee to work from home.
If no, the employee should be suspended on paid leave. This is in line with normal requirements under regulation 16(3) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.
When writing your risk assessment, visit hse.gov.uk and thegrid.org.uk for templates, examples and further guidance. Risk assessments should be ground-up pieces of work, and while templates can be a useful point of reference, you should avoid the temptation to copy and paste. The point of your risk assessment is to think about the particular hazards present to your employees, children and stakeholders within the environment and context of your setting and to develop your own clearly considered approach.
Risk assessment templates and examples:
Risk assessments for pregnant employees:
Protecting pregnant employees in the coronavirus pandemic:
Pregnant employee risk assessment flowchart:
Working safely in the coronavirus pandemic:
Risk assessment during the coronavirus pandemic:
Managing risks at work:
Taking only moments to complete for your whole setting, this automatically filled template, part of our wider collection of Early Years Policies, will save you oodles of time and stress and better prepare you for any future inspections.