advo hr looks look at the government’s roadmap out of lockdown with the key dates and employer advice.
On 22 February 2021, the government unveiled their road map towards the lifting of lockdown restrictions in England. This roadmap has the caveat of caution but has the aim of a gradual and phased release of the lockdown restrictions by 21 June. The roadmap has a 4 phased approach to easing restrictions and giving earliest indicative dates for each step, depending on the science.
The government have created an overview of the roadmap which can be found here.
Making the workplace safe
It is important that employers are talking to their employees about a potential return to work now so employees can prepare and be ready to return to work at short notice, but also provide the flexibility if the predicted return to work date changes.
In the same way as after the first lockdown when some businesses were able to return, employers must make the workplace as safe as possible for all and must consider:
- Undertaking a risk assessment to identify what might cause harm and reasonable steps to prevent it, and
- Following the Government guidelines on working safely during coronavirus (Good advice available from HSE website).
However, the most important aspect of returning is talking to your team and understanding their views about any plans to return to work. This should involve a conversation about:
- Travel to and from work
- Health and safety management at the workplace
- Any planned adjustments to the workplace
- Any phased return to work with some of the team returning before other or is it also going to be phased, maybe starting one or two days per week and building up
- Any future working from home considerations as many may now want to put in flexible working requests. You may have to think about how you can be fair to all and meet the demands of the business
- Remember a change to workplace is also a change to an employee’s terms and conditions of employment and involves consultation and agreement in writing. advo hr will be able to help you within this.
Other aspects which may also arise may be:
- Vaccinations and time-off for vaccinations
- Employees who may not want to have the vaccine and the considerations of how others may feel
- Some businesses may wish to consider workplace testing and if so, ensure you adhere to HR and GDPR guidelines.
- The lack of social interaction could also have an impact on people and therefore on reintegrating staff back into the workplace, consideration should be given to who may struggle with this initially
- Consider the needs of furloughed staff who may have not been working for some considerable length of time. They may need some refresher training or support to enable them to integrate quickly.
- Many employees may want to take annual leave over the summer period so ensuring a fair process for all will be paramount. Inevitably there will always be a handful of cases where circumstances have to be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
Employers should listen to any concerns employees may have and should take steps to be fair and consistent with all, where possible. However, if you need further advice then advohr is always on hand to give you the support you need.