Returning to Work after Coronavirus
Written 16th June 2020.
As the UK and Scottish Governments provide us with further detail on what life will look like for the coming weeks and months, many employers will be considering how to return to work in a safe manner when it is possible, taking individual employee’s circumstances into account, particularly as many have been on a fairly lengthy period of ‘furlough’.
Health and Safety
We advise that you seek the assistance of a Health and Safety Advisor for your specific business however we have detailed some general considerations below based on advice from the UK Government:
Throughout this pandemic, communication with employees has perhaps been more important than ever, with many working from home or being on furlough leave.
It is therefore sensible to have a communication plan on how you intend to re-open your workplace and let them know of what to expect, as it is likely to look different to the workplace they left in March.
A few points for consideration are detailed below:
Returning after furlough leave
You may now be considering bringing employees that are on furlough leave back to work. You should give the employee reasonable notice that they are to return to work, and we would suggest one week as a minimum notice period of their return. You should call them personally to let them know and/or send an email and ensure that they have received this. You could send a letter out to any employee returning to work welcoming them back and explaining the changes that they should expect in their workplace.
If the employee is currently on furlough leave but will be moving to ‘Flexible furlough’ from 1st July, you should ensure that any change to their working hours is agreed and given to them in writing. The guidance is not clear if they need to have a new agreement for each weekly period, however it is advisable to ensure that the discussions and any changes are well-documented for your audit trail for HMRC.
Employees that are reluctant to return
As the current guidance stands, people should in general be working from home. However as the guidance changes, a time will come where employees need to transition back to working in their usual workplaces as long as it is safe to do so.
If employees are not clinically shielding but would be considered high risk or have childcare issues for example, then the guidance for employers is to be ‘reasonable’ and explore all options open to them,
If employees have concerns about using public transport to get to work, then you can discuss changing their start and finish times to allow them to travel at a quieter time for example.
For further guidance on re-opening your workplace, please visit the HSE website and take guidance from the Scottish Government. The current advice on Phase 1 can be found here https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-phase-1-returning-to-work/. Please note that the above guidance is generic and subject to change. The most up to date guidance should always be followed. Please contact French Duncan HR services if you have any specific questions.
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Further HR Support:
We hope this has given you food for thought ahead of the upcoming furlough deadline, but if we can help you with anything further, please contact us on 0141 221 2984 or email Louise McCosh, HR Director at L.McCosh@frenchduncan.co.uk.
Other similar resources:
Full details of how we can help you around COVID-19 / Coronavirus is available on our special page (www.frenchduncan.co.uk/covid-19) which you can access by clicking here. We will be keeping all our information updated as things progress and schemes are clarified, so please check back regularly, or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn to keep informed of all the changes.
The below blog refers specifically to Furlough and Maternity Leave, other HR / Furlough related resources we have available include: