As lockdown measures have eased, clients have been asking us ‘How do I get staff back to work after Lockdown?’ There are some considerations you must make and health and safety guidelines you must adhere to safeguard their health and wellbeing.
Instead of the government telling people to work from home, they are giving employers more discretion. You are able to make decisions about how your staff can work safely. This could still mean continuing to work from home, or it could mean making workplaces safe by following COVID-secure guidelines.
The Government have updated the working safely during coronavirus guidance, but there may still be regional differences in restrictions. Some workers may be concerned and anxious about being in the workplace or travelling there.
What 3 key tests do I need to do before bringing employees back to the workplace?
Is it essential? If people can continue to work from home employers you may wish to consider doing that for now. If they cannot work from home you will need to make the relevant risk assessments and implement the correct safety measures guided by the government.
Is it sufficiently safe? You may wish to do gradual returns to work to test health and safety measures in practice and ensure they can work with larger numbers before encouraging more of your workforce back.
Is it mutually agreed? There needs to be a clear dialogue between you and your employee. This gives them an opportunity to raise concerns if they have any. There will need to be flexibility on both sides to accommodate different working times or schedules as ways of managing some of these issues.
All workplaces need to observe the Government’s social distancing guidance which seems likely to continue for some time. It is your responsibility to keep yourself fully up to date with the current situation, including local outbreaks and here at Metis we do this for all our clients by regular emails as and when the government make new announcements.
What if an employee refuses to return to work?
The first action to take is to talk to your member of staff. You may have to take into account factors such as, the size and nature of your workplace, the number of vulnerable staff you may have or those who live with vulnerable people, caring responsibilities, public transport dependency, local outbreaks and second wave.
The risks to people’s health from this pandemic are psychological as well as physical. These include anxiety about the ongoing health crisis and fear of infection, as well social isolation due to the lockdown. Many may have experienced challenging domestic situations, such as juggling childcare or caring for a vulnerable relative, as well as financial worries if their partner has had a reduction or a loss of income. Some may have experienced the illness, or bereavement. Even if staff have carried on working and participating in video meetings, they will still need to adjust to working in a shared environment with colleagues. Some may take more time than others and it’s likely that most people will need a period of readjustment.
Topics to discuss may be changes in company services or procedures, how specific customer queries or issues are being addressed, or changes in supply arrangements, as well as any agreed changes to their work duties or tasks. Some staff may require a phased return to their full role, or want to discuss a new working arrangement, especially if their domestic situation has changed because of the pandemic.
What should I do if staff have no reasons, but still refuse to return to work?
Unfortunately, there may be employees who are still reluctant to return to work. If you have had discussions with them to ask them why, what are their concerns exactly and they have given you their reasons. If you are able to show that you have addressed all their concerns, but they simply do not wish to return to work, perhaps they have been on furlough for several months or receiving Sick Pay for shielding themselves or family members, then we enter into the realms of expert advice from a HR Professional.
At Metis HR Ltd, we would first work to understand your situation and the staff member refusing to return to work, then on a case by case basis, we can advise on how best to approach your situation with your employee.
Communication with your staff is key though and keeping people informed of what you’re doing is necessary. Whether it is good or bad news for individuals, information will help them to make their own decisions and give them some degree of security in uncertain times. Let your staff know they are valued and supported by you and show that you continue to prioritise their health and safety will be pivotal to their well-being.
If you would like more advice on how to get staff back to work after Lockdown then call 01706 565332 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.