Official guidance on the government’s plans for returning to work continues to emerge, and whilst the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended, some organisations need to start thinking about what happens next and how they start planning a return to the workplace.

5 Things to Consider

  • Is it essential that your employees come to work to do their job? If they can continue to work from home then for the foreseeable future they must continue to do so.
  • If they cannot work from home could the business continue to use the Government’s Job Retention Scheme for longer, giving you the time needed to put safety measures and clear guidance in place? 
  • If employees need to come to work is it safe? As their employer you have a duty of care to identify and manage any risks to ensure that the workplace is sufficiently safe for employees to return.
  • Are you and your employee in mutual agreement? It’s important that you communication clearly with your staff and address any concerns they have.
  • When the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends, might you need to make redundancies?

Communication With Your Staff

As you make your plans for your staff to return to their place of work, staying in touch with your employees and dealing with any concerns they might have is key. You need to be taking care of your people and safeguarding their physical and mental health and wellbeing. They may be worried and anxious about using public transport to come to work. Can you be more flexible with working hours and accommodate different schedules to allow for people to travel outside of the rush hour or still have the option for them to be able to perform some remote working.

You will most likely need to start planning now for a staged return to the workplace over what could be a prolonged period. A gradual return to work will also allow you to test new health and safety measures to ensure they can work as more of your workforce return.  

How To Plan a Return to Work – Top Tips

  • You will need to observe the Government’s social distancing guidance which seems highly likely to continue for some time to come.
  • Make sure employees are clear about what rules and procedures they should follow both in the workplace and at home, especially if they begin to feel unwell. Remind staff of the key protection and hygiene measures to apply to minimise the spread of infection, such as regular and effective hand washing, and providing hand sanitiser.
  • You should carry out a deep clean if your premises have been closed for a period of time before you reopen and review your cleaning arrangements, for example ensuring all phones/keyboards etc are wiped daily with anti-bacterial cleaner.
  • Depending on the environment, you may need to consider providing PPE, including gloves, masks or anti-bacterial hand gel.  If you want people to wear gloves or masks, then you will also need to think about training and briefing staff on how to use them correctly.
  • Even if staff have carried on working from home and have been meeting virtually regularly via video meetings, they will still need to adjust to working back in the office. Some members of staff may take more time to adjust to coming back to work than others. Many will have experienced challenging domestic situations, involving childcare or caring for a vulnerable relative, or possibly now have financial worries. Some will have experienced illness, or bereavement so it is important to support your staff during their return to work.
  • Encourage and support managers to have a one to one return meeting with each member of the team. This is especially important for those who have been furloughed. Ensure that employees feel they are returning to a supportive and caring environment.

You may also need to plan how you will manage any redundancies once the furlough scheme ends as well as how you will manage holidays, sickness and other absences during that time. If you are not sure about how a redundancy process works and what your obligations as an employer are then please call us on 01722 334433 where Keith our HR Expert can help.