Bell & Buxton company and commercial solicitor Charlotte Higgins with a back to work guide for employers
What measures should your business take in order for your employees to return work?
The UK’s lockdown has had a significant impact on businesses and their employees. With the Government’s latest plans to start easing the lockdown, it is now time to start planning ahead to devise a lockdown exit strategy for your business.
With this in mind, in this article I discuss how a gradual return to work should be managed by your business.
How and when do you unfurlough staff?
There are various reasons why you may be looking to take your employees off furlough. This might be because you now have more work and therefore have a need for your employees to return to work.
You will first need to check the terms of the furlough agreement. When the Government introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme it was made clear that employees being furloughed must be furloughed for a minimum period of three weeks. You must therefore ensure that the employee has completed a minimum three-week period before bringing them off furlough.
You will then need to check any applicable notice period to be given before you can expect the employee to return to work. This should be specified within the furlough agreement.
If you do not have a formal agreement in place, you should still consult with your employees about bringing furlough to an end.
You should try and be flexible where possible and ensure that your employees have had the opportunity to arrange childcare (if applicable).
Health and safety measures
- Before a return to the workplace, you will need to carry out risk assessments.
These should cover risks such as:
- Working conditions
- Composition of the workforce.
You will need to consider the premises in general. How will employees enter and exit? How will you ensure that everywhere is clean and cleaned regularly? Consider setting up a cleaning rota to track how often cleaning takes place.
Consider working conditions. How are the desks/work areas set out? How can social distancing be achieved?
On the composition of the workforce, think about whether some employees should be phased back into the office. What about staggering working hours?
You will also need to consider what additional health and safety policies are required due to COVID-19.
As your employees return to the workplace, you should regularly carry out audits to ensure that policies are implemented effectively and are being adhered to.
Should you require any further advice in relation to how to get your employees back into the workplace, please contact Charlotte Higgins on 0114 249 5969.