Plan B – What does it mean for employers?

Plan B was announced yesterday by the Prime Minister, as a result of concerns around rising cases of the new Omicron variant.

This means:

  • From next Monday (13 December), employees should work from home, if they can.
  • From tomorrow, (10 December), face masks will be compulsory in most public indoor venues, unless it is not practical to wear one.
  • An NHS Covid Pass will be mandatory in specific settings such as nightclubs or large indoor events, using a negative test or full vaccination via the NHS Covid Pass.

From an HR perspective, the most relevant point here is the working from home guidance: we are returning to a point where employees should work from home (WFH) unless it’s not possible. If you are an employer, you should therefore be encouraging your employees to work from home where they can, in order to comply with this guidance. We would recommend that you revisit and review your WFH arrangements again to ensure that your people are receiving the support they need, both in terms of their ability to work effectively and in respect of their wellbeing.

What about Christmas parties?

Notwithstanding wider controversies about Christmas parties at the moment, a common question is whether companies’ plans should be going ahead at this time.

Broadly, the guidance is that, yes, these parties can go ahead (subject to compliance with the rules around masks). The Prime Minister expressly said that such parties should not be cancelled.

If you are planning a Christmas party in the next few weeks, you should consider:

  • Speaking with employees, or conducting a poll, to determine whether, on balance, they want the party to go ahead.
  • If it goes ahead, give those who do not want to attend in person a chance to attend some of all of the event virtually if possible.
  • Try not to exclude those people, who may be vulnerable or simply anxious, from Christmas traditions such as Secret Santa. You might like to consider holding another, virtual event as well to ensure that everyone is included.
  • Consider sending out very clear communications to attendees about the expected standards of behaviour and conduct. We would always recommend this approach, but the communications could also now include a requirement to respect colleagues’ preferences with regard to physical social contact.
  • At the party itself, consider requiring a negative LFT beforehand, ensure you have sufficient ventilation, and consider what other steps you could take to reduce risk to attendees.

It is important to remember that you as the employer owe a duty of care to provide a safe working environment for your people. Given that formally arranged staff events are generally found to be an extension of the workplace, we would recommend that you invest time in ensuring that any event you hold takes place safely and responsibly.

How can Thrive help?

If you feel you’re struggling to retain staff or wish to discuss your culture and how to reflect your culture in your workplace initiatives, we can help here at Thrive.

Using Thrive’s HR services makes your life easier; we provide you with quick and most importantly, correct HR decisions so your staff management is stress-free and sufficient. We take care of everything. From drafting contracts and handbooks tailored to your business to advising and supporting you through redundancies. There is no limit to our knowledge, if you have an HR question, our qualified solicitors have the answer for you. We are always one phone call away.

Why should you outsource your HR services to solicitors? Getting your HR services from a solicitor means, should a case ever proceed to tribunal everything we have ever discussed is protected by Legal privilege meaning all conversations are protected. Whereas if you were to use an HR consultant, all conversations and documentation regarding that employee would be disclosable in the tribunal.

Get in touch today to invest in your business and make your HR stress free.


Please note this blog is for reference purposes only and is only accurate at the date it was published. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action. Please contact us if you have any questions at

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