In planning for employees returning to work, managers should consider the following:
- When and how will employees return to work? e.g. is the return to work essential, is it safe for the employee to physically attend work or will the employee be required to work from home? Has adequate notice been given of their required return?
- Who will return to work? e.g. are all staff required to work, or will there be a phased approach? How will this be determined?
- How staff will travel to and from work?
- If employees are returning to a workplace have all appropriate Health & Safety measures been put in place? e.g. additional hand washing facilities, staggering start and finish times to avoid overcrowding, floor markings to help people keep 2 meters apart.
- If employees are working from home again have all appropriate Health & Safety measures been put in place? e.g. IT equipment, suitable furniture, home working assessment.
- Does the employee have any childcare issues?
- Does the employee have other caring responsibilities?
- Is the employee concerned/anxious about returning to work?
- Does the employee have an underlying health condition?
- It is essential that managers consider all of the above and discuss on a one to one basis with the employee before a date for a return to work is agreed.
Managers must ensure that during these discussions there is a key focus on the employees’ health, safety and wellbeing and employees understand the reason they are being asked to return to work (in some cases before others) and that they feel included in any decisions. This will help alleviate employees concerns and facilitate an effective return to work.
As well as the key areas, managers should also discuss any operational changes that have been introduced such as new procedures, how specific customer queries or issues are being addressed, changes in supply arrangements, and crucially changes to the employee’s duties or tasks that are necessary to accommodate the operational changes.