Angela West, our Head of Employment gives advice to employers on returning to the office post COVID-19.
What’s the biggest challenge facing employers post COVID-19?
Many employees have either been working from home or have been on furlough leave. Changing the employees mind set from homeworking/not working to being fully engaged is a big challenge. Employers need to manage the return to work and the potentially competing interests of those who have been furloughed and are returning with those who may have been working throughout. Don’t bury your head in the sand; the end of furlough leave is imminent so use this time wisely to plan and communicate this transition.
What’s the best bit of advice you can give employers at the moment?
It is expected that health and safety at work claims/whistleblowing claims will increase, due to employees being concerned that appropriate safeguards at work have not been put into place. Planning ahead is vital. Ensure you have open channels of communication with all employees and take time to understand individual circumstances including concerns of those who have been shielding or have a disability, childcare issues and even concerns if public transport is required to attend the workplace.
How can employers make returning to the office safe?
There are legal requirements on organisations to have COVID-19 risk assessments in place. Take the time to understand your workplace, one size does not fit all and areas of high risk will vary. Consult staff in creating the risk assessment and engage them to help ensure all aspects of the business are considered. The risk assessment is a living document so don’t just file it away, reconsidered and revise it regularly. We are living and working through unprecedented times, so the need to adapt is essential.