A webinar today by Peninsula UK sought to address some of the questions employers have about return to work in advance of Sunday’s government announcement.
As the Government prepares to announce how UK will start coming out of lockdown, employers – and employees – are keen to know about what they can do legally and what their rights are.
A webinar by HR experts Peninsula UK today included advice on questions such as what employers should do if an employee is afraid to return to work. Kate Palmer from Peninsula advised employers to plan ahead and communicate clearly about how they are managing any return to work and what they have done with regard to health and safety. The aim is to reassure staff that they have sought to introduce measures to minimise risk. If employers have done that, she said, they could show that it was reasonable to ask an employee to come into work and that, if they fail to do so, they could be subject to disciplinary action.
She was also asked about employees who might be afraid about the journey to work. She said that, in that circumstance, the employer could refer to any Government measures taken to minimise transport risks.
Palmer was also asked about a range of other issues, including:
Several questions involved the redundancy process. Palmer emphasised that it was the role which should be made redundant, not the individual or their performance in it. There are five reasons which employers can use to justify dismissal and the employer should have a sound business rationale, she said. If work demand has reduced in any areas, employers would need to pool staff doing similar jobs and go through an objective process to choose who should be made redundant.
Palmer also spoke about preparations for return, such as checking desk spacing for social distancing and providing hand sanitiser. She said any return is likely to be gradual, with staggering of staff likely and the furlough scheme staying open until at least June.
*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.