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.

In summary:

  • 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