During the pandemic current guidance remains that people who can work from home should do so, however, if you are in a position where you are bringing your staff back to work there a number of points that you must consider. The CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) identifies 3 tests that employers must pass before bringing their teams back – these are …

Is it essential?

sufficiently safe?

mutually agreed?

 

The CIPD are clear in their communication that employers should demonstrate that all practical steps have been taken to ensure that employees feel safe to return.

When returning to work you have a duty to protect, as far as reasonably practicable, employee’s health, safety, and welfare.

So, what practical steps can you take?

Is it essential?

 

Sufficiently safe?

 

Mutually agreed?

 

As an employer you have a duty to support employee’s mental health during their return to work.

Be conscious of any difficult situation’s employees may have experienced or are experiencing during this period and offer support where you can.

Assess everyone’s circumstance on a case-by-case basis.

You may have employees with childcare challenges or those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and are anxious or have been instructed to shield.  Have open conversations and identify ways that you can support your employees.

 

Here is the legal bit …. if employees have concerns about returning to work, they may have a claim under the Employment Rights Act 1996 for detriment or dismissal.

If a worker raises a concern about a failure to provide a safe working environment this could amount to a protected disclosure under whistleblowing and employees can also contact the HSE with concerns.

Employment, equality, and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way so make sure your decisions are fair.

When your teams return to work a period of re-induction will be important to reacclimatise them to the workplace – especially if they have been furloughed.

Communicate any changes the company has seen, any changes to work duties or tasks or changes to procedures.

If you haven’t already, clearly communicate all that is being done to protect their health, safety, and wellbeing.

 

In summary, when you are bringing your teams back to the workplace ensure that you undertake a COVID-19 risk assessment, consult fully with your employees, ensure that safe systems of work are fully implemented and importantly, communicate fully!

It is important that you stay up to date with the latest Government.

Public Health and HSE guidance, check the sources and ensure that you are clear on your responsibilities as an employer to protect your employees and your business.

Finally, do not underestimate the importance of good solid communication especially in periods of change, which we are continuing to navigate.

 

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