Following the Prime Minister’s speech on Tuesday 23 June it may be reasonable to feel optimistic about emerging from the other side of lockdown. There has been a shift from legislation to regulation which suggests a more flexible and practical approach to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and while social distancing will remain with us for some time to come, it is recognised that a one metre rule can be used if two metres cannot. 

With these changes, many businesses can now put their recovery plans into action. No doubt however, their turnovers and profit margins will still be affected, not least by the gradual nature of the unwinding of the lockdown but also because of the increased cost of employing staff on furlough. It would be naive to expect all furloughed staff to return to work by October and we have already seen an increase in the number of businesses seeking our advice on the way to manage ad hoc and collective redundancies.

Despite the general feeling that the restrictions are easing across the board, staff should still be working from home where possible. Only where this is not possible should staff be required to return to their workplaces which ought to have been risk assessed and appropriate PPE must be provided.

Individual members of staff will have views on their ability and/or the necessity to return to work. Employers who are able to communicate with their staff and get a ‘measure of the mood’ will be better placed to manage a more effective transition back to work for those who need to return. An uncoordinated or insensitive relaxation of the rules will give opportunities for rule-breakers and complainers to create distractions from the day job and there can be serious legal repercussions if a valid protected disclosure is made (whistleblowing) or if someone was forced to leave their job on the grounds of health and safety.

The employment team at TSP works closely with the corporate and commercial teams and delivers sensible advice designed to help your business do what is necessary.  If you have any concerns about managing your staff at this difficult time, please do not hesitate contact Jolyon Berry at jolyon.berry@tsplegal.com or 07771 542740. Jolyon leads the TSP Employment Law team and is a Legal 500 “Leading Individual”.