Can Employees Be Forced Back Into The Workplace?

//Can Employees Be Forced Back Into The Workplace?

Can Employees Be Forced Back Into The Workplace?

2020-05-15T15:26:01+00:00 May 15th, 2020|All|

On Wednesday 13th May the UK government announced that those people that are unable to work from home should be actively encouraged to return to the workplace. But how has this announcement made British workers feel? Around three quarters of British workers have stated that they would be very nervous returning to work at this time. A further 35% of British workers are uncomfortable about returning to the workplace during the pandemic.

As an employer, what power do you have when it comes to getting your employees back in the workplace?

When you furloughed your employees the agreement would have stated out when you, as their employer, could ask them employees to return. The terms of the agreement may also have stated that failure to return when requested could result in disciplinary measures.

That said, as we always recommend, we would ask employers to talk to their employees. Take the time to understand their concerns, fears, worries and anxieties about returning to the workplace. Use this opportunity to talk about the PPE that will be available and how 2metre social distancing rules will be adhered to.

Sector specific guidance has been issued by the government, however even this recognises that there may be settings or industries where social distancing is not possible. If this is the case in your business then there needs to be a huge emphasis on PPE, hand santiser and hand washing. It is essential you tell employees that have coronavirus symptoms to avoid the workplace and inform a line manage immediately.

We would recommend that you like at ways to split shifts for a multiple of reasons. By splitting shifts you will be reducing the amount of people in the workplace throughout the day. These shorter or different shifts could also help with employee childcare needs while schools are still closed and work life balance too.

It is important to remember that any amended shift patterns do not indirectly discriminate against certain groups. That said, as the employer you will have the defence of objective justification which will succeed if you have considered all other possibilities.

If you have employees in the BAME or high risk categories you may need to consider different rules. For example, if you insist all employees in the vulnerable groups come into work without being able to social distance you may well contravene the health and safety obligations you need to meet as their employer.

We would recommend that you look at alternative roles for vulnerable employees. These could be roles in different areas of the business where the risk is reduced or responsibilities that can be completed at home.  But again, speak to your employees. You may find they would prefer to stay at home and not work during these uncertain times.

The business world as we know it has been turned upside down. Communication is key; not just for your customers and suppliers, but your employees too. Take the time to talk to your employees and it is likely you will be able to reach a mutual solution that works for both parties.

Headquartered in Cambridge, Aspire Cambridge provide cost effective Recruitment and HR solutions to an impressive portfolio of customers spanning the UK and Europe. Working with a diverse collection of industries from start-ups to blue chip companies covering a vast range of sectors. Aspire Cambridge has an unrivalled knowledge of the jobs marketplace so it’s no wonder that they hold an impressive track record of exceeding client and candidate expectations.

How do they do it? By “Placing People First”.

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