From 1st August 2020, the Government has announced ‘Instead of government telling people to work from home, we are going to give employers more discretion, and ask them to make decisions about how their staff can work safely.’
Employees can either continue to work from home, use the furlough scheme if applicable or could be consulted with to return to a Covid-secure workspace.
The onus of course is for employers to assure employees that a return to the workspace is safe/ Covid-Secure. Completing a Risk Assessment is essential to ensure that they have the necessary measures in place, this includes scope for the necessary social distancing, hand washing facilities, deep cleansing etc.
It is worth noting that we may see localised lockdowns so businesses will need to be agile to accommodate last minute working changes. For example ensuring employees take the necessary IT equipment with them from the office.
Employees that have worked from home since March or have perhaps been on furlough may well be nervous about returning.
Ask yourself is the return essential – if yes….
Here are our top tips for consulting with your team to facilitate a safe return;
- Understand their concerns and take time to listen, supporting and being mindful of mental health concerns
- Prepare a written policy on Covid-Security that your employee can read in advance of returning and take time to explain the workplace specific Covid-secure measures taken so that they feel comfortable that a return is safe
- Take time to test that the safety measures actually work
- Explain the value of them returning to the business; face to face meetings with colleagues, shared experiences, team building.
- Explain the rationale for needing their presence in the office; maybe their work needs to be completed at the employer premises
- Understand their journey to work – concerns arising from this and whether there may be another solution, i.e. car sharing with a colleague rather than public transport or walking/ cycling
- Is there scope for flexibility – could they return initially just one day a week?
If you would like support or guidance on returning employees to work or the changes in furlough scheme please contact firstname.lastname@example.org