Many people are a little apprehensive about lockdown being lifted, especially if they have been shielding over the past few months. If you’ve been asked to return to work, then this could raise anxiety levels even more.
In this months edition of Able Magazine – the UK’s leading disability lifestyle magazine, I discuss what things your employer should put in place to support you on your return to work.
In the article I discuss what you can do personally to prepare yourself for returning to work, the responsibilities of your employer and the long-term employer benefits of being health and disability confident.
You can read the full article here.
If you are an employer who wants to be disability confident, or an employee who has concerns over returning to work, then get in touch for a chat to see how I can help you bridge the gap between health and work.
The Government has announced that lockdown will be paused from 31 July for those who have been shielding or isolating and staff will begin to return to work
Are you ready to support ALL your employees return to work?
Some of your employees will have been shielding, self-isolating, or in lockdown for a while now. Returning to the workplaces is likely to be a worrying and anxious time especially for those with health conditions or a disability. Practical concerns could include travel, (especially if they use public transport) and accessing refreshments and lunch. Add to that the thought of how safe they will be in the workplace especially when mixing with colleagues and how secure their job actually is (SSP is due to end 30 July).
Employees may have care or Personal Assistance to arrange, and it may be alarming to have to wear face coverings (for some they are exempt). After such a long time at home, all these worries and a change in everyone’s daily structure and routine can have a big effect on our emotional well-being. It could also be causing you worries about how you will support them as an employer.
Let me reassure you.
Advice and Good Practice
As a responsible employer, you will want to make every effort to support all of your employees returning to work, including encouraging working from home. Where work can only be done in the workplace, you must follow the Governments secure guidelines.
You should begin now to communicate with your employees. Build up your confidence in understanding their specific needs and thinking about what you need to have in place to reassure them and what support you might need.
- We know about the social distance rules and how this might look from the media. Picture what this might look like in your workplace for a wheelchair user or a neurodiverse employee for example.
- Discuss with your employee, HR and H&S contacts
- Be prepared to show photos or images of the workplace – email them if that will reassure someone
- You don’t need to wait for your employee to contact you. Get in touch with them soon and arrange a chat about return to work plans.
- Remember that we are still advised to work from home unless this is not possible.
You should be comfortable with most of this advice, as you will have been keeping in regular contact with your staff while they are shielding or self-isolating and have some idea of any specific health-related concerns they might have. You also have a legal responsibility to support employees with pre-existing health conditions or disabilities. COVID-19 doesn’t change this.
Planning to support your employees return to work
When planning for staff to return to the workplace, you must take the time to do a risk assessment and reassure them that any concerns they and you have got are addressed. You must arrange to discuss with them either over the phone, video link, or face to face. Whichever way suits you both.
Remember working from home should remain an option. If that is to be the case you will need to conduct a risk assessment in the home. Be prepared to also agree to a change in hours to allow for travel in less busy times. Demonstrate that there is socially distant space for them to work, including with their PA if they have one.
Your employees have been used to a routine at home for some time now. If they depend strongly on routine, and/or have a neurodiverse condition, hearing about returning to work in the media is a good time to be proactive and start the conversation with them.
Start to think now, how any change can be managed to make it easier for them to make the transition of routine a success. Any sudden change to their routine back to the workplace could otherwise be a struggle, for them and you. Speak with them now. It can be helpful for you to plan together for a new daily structure to make it more manageable.
Having a long-term health condition or disability, your staff will be well aware of their specific needs and what will help them.
To help them work from home they will:
- Need to have an idea what equipment they need, for example, a computer, phone and videoconferencing facilities.
- Know what work hours will be practical.
- Want to keep in regular contact with you, making sure they share their thoughts and worries
To reassure them COVID-19 risk transmission is reduced as much as possible:
- They will want to know any work activity or situations which might cause COVID-19 transmission
- What actions you have taken to remove or control any risk of COVID-19 from activity or situations:
- Social distancing measures
- Staggering shifts
- Providing additional handwashing facilities etc.
It is recommended that you:
- Explain any changes that you are planning, to work safely
- Make sure changes will work and staff hear what they are
- Continue to operate business safely
Principles for supporting all employees
Supporting return to work, shouldn’t need to be any different for any staff. It’s about them having conversations with each staff member individually. Discussing plans, listening to concerns and providing you with the information you need. It’s about looking after everyone’s wellbeing.
- Start thinking about what you need to make return to work for all a success
- Keep in contact with staff about their return to work plans and listening to their concerns
- Your employees should make you fully aware of their needs and concerns
- Remember that as an employer you are legally required to take account of staff long-term health conditions or disabilities in your planning
- Flexible hours are an option
- Working from home, should be facilitated if that is what you require
More details can be found here
Tudor Rose works with employers encouraging them to recruit and retain employers with health conditions or disabilities, with their consultancy service and supporting them in becoming health and disability confident, through awareness-raising workshops and advisory reviews. They coach employees with health conditions or disabilities to return to and retain their work and reduce sick leave. Empowering them to reach their career goals and have the confidence to get their needs met in the workplace. Bridging the gap between health and work. A win for employer and employee
Our Hug in a Box is a perfect way to show someone you care.
Everybody needs a hug. It changes your metabolism.
Having to live with any health or disability issues can be exhausting both physically and mentally. Add into the mix running a business or holding down a job and it can leave you fatigued and tired. It can also cause sensory overload and leave you struggling to overcome the physical effort of getting to and from work, or sometimes just through a day.
Does that sound familiar?
As a disabled entrepreneur myself I understand the struggles and difficulties that come from running a business and trying to do ALL THE THINGS.
Regardless of who you are, what you do, or where you live, sometimes all you need is a hug. And if you are running your own business, working hard, looking after your family or living with chronic health issues or disabilities, then a hug can make all the difference.
Because we believe that everyone deserves a hug, here at Tudor Rose we have been busy sourcing some fantastic content for our new product – A Hug in a Box.
As the name suggests, our hug in a box is a box packed full of gorgeous items and information to help you, or someone you know, get through the day. It provides relief from any day to day health issues, or simply encourages you to take some time out to recharge. In short, it’s a collection of items guaranteed to give you that hygge feeling.
Each box contains at least 5 quality products hand-picked to nurture, inspire and support self-care. Each item is picked specifically to make you feel good, encourage you to get creative or simply relax and have fun.
Who do you know that would benefit from a wonderful feel-good Hug in A Box?
A hug is an amazing thing. It’s just the perfect way to show the love we’re feeling but can’t find the words to say.
Johnny Ray Ryder
My earliest memories
These are probably from age 3, living with my fabulous Grandparents in Blackpool when Mum was working. Lots of walks in my 1960 big pram along the prom, playing on the beach, visits to the pleasure beach, being spoilt. Living the dream. What more could a little girl want? If anyone remembers the laughing clown at the Pleasure Beach, I always got very upset and cried when I saw it. Why?
At this age I still wasn’t able to walk, so there were lots of trips to physio appointments. Shoes just the same as I wear now, and having to go to bed in them, with a metal bar across from ankle to the other. Mum always made me get to things myself around the home. A brilliant strategy it seems to have been.
Celebrity and innovation
Mum was busy as a young Mum with a disabled child, learning, being so strong, and proactive in sourcing the best of everything for me. Wanting me to have a good education, walk and be independent. Looking back, this was very brave and positive of Mum in the 60s, after being told by doctors a bleak future, I would never walk etc.
When I was 4 I started a special school. I remember the learning wasn’t great at first as I could read and write before school. I walked with shoes and calipers, just like today, and had two wooden tripod sticks with horses heads. I called them whisky and soda! Who knows where those names came from. Mum would take me for a walk for what seemed such a long way. It was probably only half a mile at most. We went into St Annes centre. There I was smiled at by the public like I was a celebrity. Due largely to Mum’s charity work supporting other families with children like me, and efforts towards my progress, we were in the newspaper, and in the Round Table, or Mayor’s parade, in a horse and carriage along the Prom. Me dressed up and waving like the Queen.
My step Dad put his practical mind to converting a tricycle foot pedals to hand controls. This gave me the same freedom to get about and play with friends, just like the of kids nearby. I remember being quite forward. When new people moved into the very near area, I knocked on the door and asked if they had children I could play with. Not sure where that early boldness has gone.
At this early age, I am sure this is where my ‘can do’ attitude must come from. The positive attitude of my Mum and step Dad, and their strength and approach has been key to the positive outcome of where I am today, and how I deal with the challenges life throws at us.
More of my early years story next time.
Where it all began. A little town in Lancashire.
Birch Hill Hospital, sadly the original no longer standing, was where it all started in the 1960s. The place this little baby girl Jane was born 6lb 9oz. It is thanks to medical advances of the time, and a strong family, that having Spina Bifida I am here today.
Through this blog you will get a little insight into my journeys, to where I am today. Locations, significant life events, what has shaped what I do. Some highs, some lows, all apart of full tapestry of life. Enjoy, and feel free to comment and be a part of the journey.