Lifting Covid restrictions, what this mean for employers?
As you will have seen in the news last week, the Government has announced that in all likelihood all Covid restrictions will be lifted later this month. Self-isolation is also set to end on or around 24 March 2022.
A lot of employers will be worried about what this means for them. Employees will have pre-Covid contracts of employment that require them to work in a specific location, usually the employer’s premises. However, since the pandemic, the majority of staff will have been working from home and may prefer to stay that way.
What should employers look out for?
- Health and Safety
As an employer, you are legally responsible for protecting your employees from health and safety risks. It is important that you carry out health and safety risk assessments and review the handling of Covid symptoms and positive cases. If an employee feels that their health and safety is at risk of serious and imminent danger, they have the legal right to refuse to attend work. If an employee is subjected to a detriment for this reason, it could give rise to a tribunal claim.
By creating a blanket requirement that all staff will need to return to the office full-time, or even part-time, it may put certain people at a disadvantage. Remember that one size may not fit all. Dismissing staff who refuse to return to work, may lead to tribunal claims, so there is a need to tread carefully. Any changes to the current working arrangements should account for any impact on those with medical conditions or disabilities. It is important to have a safe space for employees to raise any concerns they have.
- Flexible Working
The ‘normal’ way of working has been subject to significant changes since the start of the pandemic, with an increase in home-working/hybrid working. Where employers are asking employees to return to the office or change their current working patterns, they should also expect to see a rise in flexible working requests.
How can we help?
We can draft a policy to reflect any changes to your expected working arrangements and assist you through any flexible working requests. We can also advise on processes to follow, should you have a staff member who is reluctant to return to work.
If you have a question or would like further information regarding the possible Covid restrictions being lifted and how this may impact your business… Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558. Our Employment team is on hand to assist you with all you need to know. We’re here for you.