As lockdown restrictions ease, what are my responsibilities to my employees? Can we just go back to normal, or do we need to create a ‘new normal’?
There are many considerations businesses owners need to take into account when preparing for a post-lockdown world – at People Puzzles we’ve produced a handy checklist that covers a number of potential issues relating to your staff. Here are just some of the questions you might be asking:
Is my business model still relevant?
Can you go back to how things were or do you need to do things differently? A question many business owners will be asking themselves is whether they can maintain current staffing levels – or do they need to consider restructuring as the furlough rules change from July?
Should I work out a hybrid home and office solution?
If you’re bringing employees back on site who’ve previously been furloughed or have been working from home, it may cause logistical issues such as being able to socially distance. Some staff may wish to continue working from home if they’ve managed it successfully so far. There may well be requests for a combination of home and office working. What effect would this have on your staff and on the business long term? It would be wise to trial it first before committing fully to the idea.
How do I engage everyone in the discussion?
If you do want to bring everyone back on site as soon as possible, you should still find out what your employees’ expectations and concerns might be before you make key decisions involving them. There are many ways to do this; you could conduct a survey, carry out online focus groups or simply ask them in a one-to-one meeting. This is also a great opportunity to check in with everyone in the business, find out their current engagement levels and ascertain their general wellbeing.
What about accumulated holiday leave?
The lack of holiday opportunities over the last year means many people haven’t been taking leave as they usually do, accumulating weeks of leave that they will want to take as soon as holidays are allowed again. We advise our clients to encourage staff to take leave now – not just to avoid a hole in your operations just as business is picking up again, but also to prevent staff ‘burning out’.
What are my obligations around testing and vaccination?
Some businesses will need to test staff regularly for Covid-19 and any that do have to report the results to Public Health England. Remember that as an employer, you’re bound by GDPR laws when it comes to recording test results or symptom checking. You also need to be clear about what information you’re keeping and who it’s shared with, especially if there’s a positive test result that requires people to self-isolate.
Similarly, you cannot simply share vaccination information with anyone in the organisation; disclosure of that could be a data protection issue.
What if there is a return to lockdown?
As many government scientists keep reminding us, we are by no means out of the woods yet. Contingency planning in case there is another lockdown might be a depressing thought, but it’s worth considering what you might do differently if there is a next time.