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about 1 month ago by Thea Fraser

Returning to Work: The Employer To-Do-List

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In the second instalment of our Beyond Furlough webinar series, we welcomed back Helen Dyke and Joanne Moseley of Irwin Mitchell to discuss the latest COVID-19 updates affecting employment best practice. As lockdown restrictions are gradually easing, many employers are preparing to welcome staff back to work. As discussed in our Beyond Furlough Webinar, here are the five top tasks employers must complete in preparation.

1.        Conduct a 'COVID secure' H&S risk assessment.

All businesses must be 'COVID secure' before re-opening. That means that all employers must complete the minimum requirements: carry out thorough risk assessments, follow government guidance and consult with representatives and staff. Employers must identify which work activities or situations might cause transmission of the virus; think about who could be at risk; decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed; and
act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn't possible, control the risk.

2.        Consider the impact of returning to work on those who are vulnerable.

Ask all members of staff to complete an individual risk assessment to identify those who may fall into one of the at-risk groups. Employees that fall into any of the groups should have a follow-up risk assessment by their Manager or HR to ensure that it is safe for them to return to work. Anyone on the shielding list "clinically extremely vulnerable" will shortly be able to leave their homes provided they maintain strict social distancing measures. From 1 August 2020, shielding in England will be suspended, meaning that these individuals along with those who fall into the "clinically vulnerable" group may be able to return to work, provided that it is safe for them to do so and you have considered reasonable adjustments. Pregnant women must be suspended on full pay if they can’t work from home, and it's not safe to allow them to return to work.

3.        Give notice of return to work.

Talk to anyone who has concerns about returning and, if these are valid, make adjustments where you can.

4.        Prepare short term plan regarding furlough.

From 1 July until 31 October a more flexible furlough scheme will become available; workers will be able to return to work on a part-time basis. 
Only people that were furloughed for a full three weeks before the end of June can return to work using the new scheme. However, this requirement does not apply to individuals who are being furloughed after returning from statutory family leave (e.g. maternity leave). Employers can't furlough more people than they have previously claimed for in any one month.

If employers wish to adopt the flexible furlough scheme, they will have to seek agreement from affected employees. 

5.        Factor in enough time to collectively consult if you need to change terms and conditions or impose redundancies.

If you are likely to make redundancies, you will need to factor in the time required for collective consultation; which is 30 days if it affects 20 or more employees in a 90-day period and 45 days if it affects 100 or more employees in a 90 day period. You should also be considering the logistics of consulting, especially if your workforce is currently remote or on furlough.


This Employer Checklist was provided by Irwin Mithcell. To stay up to date with legal developments around Coronavirus, head over to their portal: 
https://www.irwinmitchell.com/news-and-insights/in-focus/coronavirus