EMPLOYEES should take their responsibilities seriously as increasing numbers of people are set to return to work, business leaders in the region have said.

The Government is encouraging more people to return to work this week.

People should continue to work from home where possible but all those who cannot should travel to work if their workplace is open, the Government says.

Sectors that are allowed to open, including food production, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories, should be open.

James Ramsbotham, chief executive, North East England Chamber of Commerce said: “There are a number of excellent North-East business who have never ceased operations or who have made a measured and safe return to work.

"We believe what is now needed is clear, unequivocal guidance to enable as many companies as possible to operate again.

"It is important for employers to work collaboratively with their staff to ensure they feel safe and confident of their working environment, and that employees take their personal responsibilities seriously."

He added that employers need further information on a range of issues.

He added: "They need to know how they should operate safely, what travel arrangements are possible, best practice with regards to PPE and where they stand with health and safety legislation to make workplaces safe.

"There is currently an understandable feeling of concern amongst many employers and employees and we need urgent clarification to encourage as many businesses as possible to operate successfully.”

Employers have been told workplaces should be "covid compliant".

New safety guidelines are being produced with input from g relevant sectors, industry bodies, local authorities, trades unions, the Health and Safety Executive and Public Health England, the Government has said. They will be released this week.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined the Government's recovery strategy in Parliament yesterday.

Newcastle MP Chi Onwuruh, a shadow minister for business, energy and industrial strategy, questioned the Prime Minister about work place safety in parliament yesterday.

She said: "The North-East has the highest coronavirus infection rate in the country and some of the highest levels of deprivation where coronavirus mortality is twice that in the least deprived areas.

"Now the prime minister is telling those who can't work from home, so mainly in lower paid, manual and people facing jobs, to get back to work without transport, childcare PPE or proper protection for workers in place putting more risk on those already at risk. So will he say clearly that first and foremost, everyone has a duty and a right to say safe?"

Mr Johnson replied: "Absolutely. Don't forget that many businesses have kept going throughout this crisis across many sectors.

"We are going to insist businesses across the county look after their workers and are Covid secure, Covid compliant. The health and safety executive is going to enforce it."