Employers urged to proceed with caution over return to work

Kate Palmer from HR experts Peninsula gives advice to employers on the back of the Prime Minister’s announcement yesterday, specifically on timing, safety, confidence and issues such as childcare.

Return to work


Kate Palmer from HR experts Peninsula is urging employers to react with caution after the Prime Minister’s speech on the roadmap to ending lockdown in England. She spoke about two of the key issues: childcare and return to work timing.

Firstly, on how HR should start to handle concerns from employees such as childcare commitments and worries about the logistics of getting to work, she cautioned that HR should proceed with care.

She said: “Although the lockdown is starting to be eased in England, announcements are being made very quickly. Employers may then decide to re-open quickly, but employees may not be able to follow suit. Those with childcare commitments, and other caring commitments, will need to consider what arrangements they will make. This could be tricky considering that options like childcare providers and wider family may not be available to them. An individual approach is likely to be needed and appropriate adjustments and support put in place, perhaps on a temporary basis. An individual approach will also be needed when dealing with concerns over travelling to work.”

Secondly, she said that, although the Prime Minister announced that employees who cannot work from home should go to work, that does not mean that it has to happen immediately.

She cautioned: “It will undoubtedly take employers time to consider their position and particular care must be taken to implement health and safety measures, including social distancing, or the provision of PPE, in the workplace. No action should be done without the appropriate thought and consideration as this could work against employers in the long run. Ensuring staff feel they are being protected at work is a large part of the return to work process.”

She added: “Employers should take their time to consider what their response will be. If this is not done appropriately, it may be difficult to convince employees that they are being protected at work and may have valid reasons for refusing to return to work. This could be damaging for employers in the short and the long term.”

*workingmums.co.uk and Peninsula UK will be holding a COVID-19 employment rights session on Thursday 14th May at 12-1pm on Facebook Live.


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