The Pandemic – How Do You Really Feel – Part One

The Coronavirus pandemic has caused complete upheaval in all our lives. Not only have most of us been confined to the home for months, but many have also not even been able to work or have been working from home.

We recently carried out a survey at Blue Tree HR Solutions to find out more about how people feel about the pandemic and returning to work after lockdown. We wanted to get a better understanding of the concern’s employees have and whether they feel their employers have done enough to support them. We will discuss the responses, as well as any helpful tips we can offer as experienced HR professionals.

Returning to Work

According to our survey, 95% of respondents were not on furlough, suggesting that most were working from home. There was a very mixed response to the prospect of returning to the workplace, with an equal proportion (35%) stating that they were either dreading it or weren’t bothered either way, and 30% stating that they ‘couldn’t wait to return to the workplace.’

We get a lot of questions from both employees and employers about returning to work after covid and returning to work after furlough. Employers are concerned with how they should approach it and employees want to know what their rights are if they do not want to return. Many feel anxious about the possibility of being subjected to the virus or are just used to their ‘bubble’ and don’t particularly want to come out it. We hope this advice can give you some reassurance.

Advice for Employees

Firstly, the government guidelines, according to returning to work after covid, are to work from home until at least June 21st , so according to the law, your employer cannot force you to return before this date. If you are on furlough and are concerned about childcare or other concerns about returning in June, the scheme has been extended until September, so you should speak to your employer and request an extension.

If you are being asked to return to the office as your job cannot be undertaken at home and it is after June 21st, your employer has the right to expect you to return to your place of work, and disciplinary action may be taken if you refuse. If you simply don’t want to work from the office as you are enjoying working from home, and your work can be undertaken at home, we suggest speaking to your employer and reaching a mutual agreement. Talk to them about how you’re feeling and try to reach an arrangement, such as working from the office two days a week with the remainder at home or only attending meetings, as required.

Advice for Employers

You must not force employees to go into the office until after June 21st. The government messaging remains to work from home. After this period, we would suggest doing your upmost to try and be flexible with your employees, as it is extremely difficult to return to work full time after getting used to working from home. If they can work from home, our advice would be to offer them some flexibility, even if they must attend the office a couple of days a week. You must ensure that precautions are taken and that your employees are safe. Take a look at the government advice on making your workplace covid safe when your employees are returning to work after lockdown.

If you need some advice on this, whether as a concerned employee or employer, get in touch with us on info@bluetreehr.uk or 01787 695084. We will be happy to take through your options.

Next week we will be discussing the general feeling about lockdown and we will offer some tips on how to deal with your mental and physical wellbeing.

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