Legal experts state that it is essential that employers do not force workers to return to work unless they have put measures in place that will reduce the risk of infection in the workplace.
The government guidance that was published after the announcement from Boris Johnson on Sunday states that employers in England are able to require that employees return to work from 13th May. However this is only if it is not possible for employees to work from home.
Further government guidance stated that employers must have carried out COVID-19 risk assessments before employees return. Employers must also have installed preventative measures before employees can be welcomed back into the workplace.
Employment law experts state that in order for an employee to legitimately refuse to return to the workplace when requested, they must be able to show that they reasonably believe they were in serious or imminent danger.
It is essential that employers consider all aspects of the working day for their employees. This includes how they will get to and from work, start and finish times for different employees, how lunch breaks and other breaks will be managed and how interactions will take place. Movement of employees within the workplace will need to be considered too.
Employers may wish to consider using physical barriers to reduce content, introducing a one way system throughout the workplace and lots of hand washing and sanitising stations available for all employees.
The government guidance is very clear that workplaces need to be COVID-19 secure before workers can be brought back into the workplace. The prime minister has encouraged workers to report any breaches of safety to their local authority. Employees that do report safety concerns will gain the employees whistleblowing protection.
We have heard of some examples of employees being forced back into the workplace through the media. Unless communication lines are open between employees and employers then there will be many more cases of this friction. As an employer you need to reassure your team that it is safe to return to the workplace. Take the time to discuss the safety measures you have put in place and what measures they would like to see.
Here at Aspire Cambridge we strongly feel that employees should only be asked back into the workplace when it is completely necessary and working from home is not an option. However, it must be safe to return to the office and it must be mutually agreed between the employee and the employer that they are comfortable to do so.
Confidence that employers are taking steps to make workplaces COVID-secure will be key to encouraging employees and customers to return. If you need help gaining this confidence from your team, or with putting measures into place.
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”.