1. Extension of furlough scheme
- Consult to seek agreement for continuation of furlough arrangements
- Agree terms of furlough (e.g. top up pay, intended length of furlough period)
- Confirm in writing
2. Options for staff you cannot furlough
- Redeployment to other duties
- Cost cutting measures (e.g. suspend overtime, reduce or suspend discretionary benefits)
- Temporary lay-off without pay
- Reduced hours / short-term working
- Reduced pay
- Unpaid leave
But be careful! Check the contract of employment, follow best practice and be sure to comply with your legal duties, in particular the need to consult and seek agreement before imposing any contractual changes. Seek expert HR advice if in doubt.
3. Recalling staff to work
- Consider who to bring out of furlough (or any other agreed period of leave related to the crisis) and give reasonable notice
- Consult, discuss and agree working arrangements (location, working patterns and working practices). Do this individually where possible, or via employee or Trade Union representatives where relevant
- Above all, sense check your decisions by applying the following three key tests
- Is it safe?
- Is it essential?
- Is it mutually acceptable?
4. Workplace compliance and risk assessments
- There are 8 government guides – follow the one(s) applicable to your business
- Carry out your risk assessment, in consultation with your employees, or their representatives where applicable
- <5 employees – no need to write up your risk assessment
- >5 employees – share your risk assessment with your employees
- >50 employees – publish your risk assessment on your website
- Identify any employees who are ‘extremely vulnerable’, ‘vulnerable’ or particularly at risk
- Implement your health & safety measures: deep cleaning & sanitisation; implement social distancing measures; ongoing management
- Display HSE COVID-19 Safety poster visibly around the premises
5. How to bring staff back to work
- Take a people-first approach
- open communication – listen, address concerns, discuss
- be fair, sensitive and inclusive
- use common sense and contextual judgement
- Consult and consider options
- flexible arrangements
- phased approach
- Communicate changes
6. Your duty of care for employee wellbeing
- Consider the 8 dimensions of wellbeing and how you can support your employees in each area: social, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, environmental, financial, physical, occupational
- Train and support your line managers to spot the signs of any mental health issues and to handle sensitive conversations confidently
- Where necessary provide employees with access to external professional support or counselling
Business Clan have provided an invaluable source of HR advice for all members of our Business Improvement District during the COVID-19 crisis, providing them with regular, crucial and timely support in interpreting and implementing government guidance surrounding furlough arrangements.
Nicola Grant, Positively Putney BID
If you have any questions or concerns about how to bring your employees back to work safely then please get in touch with our HR team.
Further reading: Return to work: Safeguard your employees and workplace
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