InsightsInsight - Coronavirus, Employment & HR - POSTED: April 22 2020
Planning ahead for returning to work after the pandemic
Current Government guidance relating to the coronavirus pandemic has seen businesses either close, operate with reduced workforce, or with the majority of their workforce working from home.
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It is fair to say that most business owners and workers are getting itchy feet and are planning ahead for returning to work after the pandemic.
To ensure that the sacrifices pay off for the health of society, it’s important that on-going guidance continues to be followed. Risk assessments, staff furloughing, and remote working arrangements have been among the key topics around (virtual) boardroom tables in recent weeks. It is likely this will continue to be for some time.
However, there will undoubtedly be further challenges in the weeks ahead following the lifting of the lockdown and people returning to work, and as there is a relaxation of current rules and guidance.
Returning to work – reluctant returners
Many staff will welcome the opportunity to return to more normal working practices after the pandemic, seeing their fellow workers and, perhaps, returning to a full wage packet. However an equal number may be reluctant to do so or will face pressures and challenges from their family life.
As schools remain closed, it is important to be mindful that parents will have additional childcare responsibilities which may be incompatible with returning to work full-time or set hours. Others may be facing a greater burden to continue caring for elderly or vulnerable family members. Clearly, there is a need for employers to brush up on their knowledge of parental and dependant leave, and ensure their policies are fit for purpose.
It is also important to remain up-to-date with the ever-evolving entitlements the Government is providing to those who are unwell, shielding or self-isolating as a consequence of the virus. This ensures that employers know which employees they should be asking to return to work and the rights and entitlements for both parties if the employee is unable or unwilling to return. See Brachers’ dedicated coronavirus guidance hub for more information.
Creating a safe environment
Employers have an ongoing obligation to provide employees with a safe working environment and to preserve their health and safety while at work. This not only applies to homeworking arrangements and wellbeing – by providing instructions on how to set up workstations, or access to wellbeing resources or helplines – but also when employees return to work after the pandemic. Time should be spent on risk assessments around working conditions. Also consider putting in place guidance for employees returning to their normal place of work in respect of issues such as social distancing, maintaining a clean working environment and what to do if they show any symptoms of coronavirus.
Changes in workforce
Depending on the length of business closures and the types of decisions that businesses have had to make, as well the potential increase or decrease in the need for their services and products, businesses may have more challenging decisions to face. These may include the need to recruit and train new staff or, on the flip side, to only reintroduce parts of the workforce or even to make redundancies. Careful planning and assessment of demand and the allocation of resources will need to be made by all businesses. This will ensure that the correct decisions are made, and these decisions are managed in accordance with both Government guidance and their legal powers and obligations.
Brachers’ Employment team is with you all the way and can assist in helping you make the right decisions when the time comes.
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