As non-essential retailers get the go-ahead to reopen this month, many UK businesses face the task of reopening safely and efficiently. We all know that the return to work will be difficult for many individuals and companies. There are new practices and procedures to be put in place, along with the potential for new issues to arise. Therefore, you must review the circumstances and know the facts before making any decisions on reopening your business.

‘How you manage a return to the workplace will depend on the type of closure arrangements you have been operating. The 3 most prevalent types are:

  • Business not trading at all (all staff furloughed)
  • Business trading on a limited basis (some staff furloughed, some working from home or in company premises) or where only ‘essential’ workers are currently in work
  • Business trading fully but all staff working from home.’ – cipd.co.uk

Whilst we advise that you to follow all up-to-date government guidance for your specific sector; Triple Three Solutions has complied some of the main HR Issues to think about when reopening your business during (and after) the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speak to employees:

Before preparing to reopen your workplace, the very first thing to access is if you need to. Whether or not staff have been able to work from home, and could continue to do so, should be taken into account. Whilst employees should be available to return to work on short notice, flexibility from employers is critical. Discuss plans for the return to work with staff as early as possible, considering any concerns before making a final decision. Consult with trade unions and employee representatives along with your Health & Safety representatives.

Continuing to work from home, scattered hours or a phased return are just some of the ways you can help your workforce to readjust. Bear in mind that every employee may have different needs, e.g. pre-existing health conditions that need to be accounted for. Keep everyone as informed as possible, so that they can return to work with confidence and knowledge that their wellbeing is prioritised.

Perform risk assessments:

‘As an employer, you’re required by law to protect your employees, and others, from harm.‘ – hse.gov.uk

Depending on the nature and size of your business, there are health and safety measures to take before reopening. Be sure to stick to the latest social distancing advice, cleaning and hygiene practices and all other government guidance specific to your business sector. For a detailed list on what your sector needs to consider, please refer to these eight guides from gov.uk.

Consider mental health:

Emma Mamo, head of workplace wellbeing at mental health charity Mind, said the coronavirus outbreak had caused “large and sudden changes to our lives, including the way we work”, and that adjustments can present “challenges to our mental health and wellbeing”.-peoplemanagement.co.uk.

In our last blog, we discussed the importance of supporting your employee’s mental health while they’re working from home. As we create a “new normal”, employers must be mindful of employee’s mental health along with their physical health.

Ensure that employees are aware of any support that is available in your organisation. This may be an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), a mental health ‘champion’, or any other help that can be provided.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you should do all you reasonably can to encourage positive mental health. For example, it might be helpful to:

  • arrange mental health training for managers and staff
  • appoint mental health ‘champions’ who staff can talk to
  • promote existing wellbeing support, such as counselling

You should also remind managers to communicate regularly with their team and support them if they need to have sensitive conversations with team members.’ – acas.org.uk.

333 Can Help:

A lot to think about? Your businesses approach to COVID-19 safety measurements is crucial for reopening successfully and safely, however, we are here to help. Please bear in mind the above just is the basics of reopening once UK lockdown restrictions allow.

For more detailed advice on reopening your business, or for any other HR Issues, please get in touch. Call us on 0333 050 3330 or contact us via email at lisa@triplethreesolutions.co.uk.