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Going out to come in: returning to work.

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

For many people, going out to come in (to work) is going to be a bit of a culture shock.

Many have made a point of going to the office to perform tasks they can’t do from home, or simply need a bit of social interaction (all socially distanced and COVID secure of course); for others, a return to the workplace is going to fill them with apprehension. We’ve probably all experienced that feeling of having to return to work after a long holiday!

Although the government is likely to encourage homeworking for employees, where possible, until May or June, now is a good time to consider what policies you should have in place to prepare for their return.

Naturally, people’s expectations of work have changed drastically since the start of the pandemic and therefore the onus falls to employers to take an individualised approach on managing a return to the workplace.

So what should you think about?

Your health and safety policy is going to be the most prevalent, setting out the safety measures that have been implemented in the workplace. Risk assessments are the starting point but you can update your policy to implement the use of face coverings, social distancing, limiting numbers in communal areas, regular cleaning and sanitiser stations. Additional policies can be added to explain the protocols for cleaning and disinfection, increased ventilation or the use of alternate rotas to limit numbers in the workplace.

Depending on the nature of what you do, you may also need to consider how your policies and protocols are communicated to third parties (e.g. contractors, clients or visitors). This can be done prior to their visit to ensure that they know what will be expected of them when they attend your premises.

The pandemic has brought about challenges to the wellbeing of individuals so you could consider having a mental health and wellbeing policy for those who are facing difficulties during this uncertain time or perhaps even have a dedicated mental health first aider.

Understandably, employers are keen to understand their rights in relation to the use of testing and/or vaccinations. While the Government is rolling out the use of rapid testing which can be used by employers, the enforcement of said testing remains a grey area.

You can introduce a lateral flow testing policy but the employee’s participation should be voluntary. In the event of testing taking place, you will need to consider whether your data protection policies and privacy notice should be revised. The data gathered would be classed as health information and should therefore be processed in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

Lastly, your sick pay and annual leave policies could be updated to include reference to the requirement for self-isolation and/or quarantining.

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For help and advice in relation to this or other employment issues, contact us for a free initial discussion.