Coronavirus - return to work

Susie MunroEditor's message: The ongoing easing of the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown restrictions across the UK means that many workplaces are reopening. From 1 August 2020, the UK Government’s message to employers in England has shifted. Where employees were previously expected to work from home if they could, the emphasis is now on ensuring that they can work safely, either from home or in the workplace if the “COVID-19 Secure” guidelines are followed.

As public health is a devolved matter, HR in organisations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales should follow the guidance and comply with the restrictions that apply to your location.

While many employers will decide to continue to encourage homeworking, HR needs to plan for a safe return to the workplace, whether employees are being asked to return now or further down the line. The UK Government’s “COVID-19 secure” guidelines set out a process for employers to follow, based around risk assessment, social distancing measures and actions to mitigate the risk of coronavirus transmission.

HR will be required to manage the needs of employees with particular circumstances that make it difficult or impossible for them to return to work, such as health concerns, childcare or transport issues. Applying a blanket approach to all employees will not be appropriate.

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Susie Munro, senior employment law editor

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