On 10 May 2020 the Government began to outline its plans to enable certain sectors in England to return to work, while the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have continued the period of lockdown.
While employees who can operate from home are advised to continue to do so, official guidance on the Government’s plans for returning to the workplace continue to emerge, including eight sets of guidance. This sector specific guidance covers construction and other outdoor work, warehouses, labs and research facilities, offices and contact centres and similar indoor environments. The remaining guidance addresses working in other people’s homes, restaurants offering takeaway or delivery, shops and similar environments and people who work in or from vehicles, including couriers and lorry drivers. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.
Given that the timing and nature of any further relaxation of restrictions is uncertain it would be sensible for businesses to consider all the options and have the capability to move quickly from one scenario to another. In addition, while the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (commonly known as the furlough scheme) has been extended beyond the original end date to October 2020, employers need to plan now for what is likely to be staged return to the workplace over what could be prolonged periods.
Their guiding principle should be how they take care of their people and safeguard their health and well-being. Many people will be concerned and anxious about being in workplaces or travelling to workplaces. They will want to know that their employer is retaining their support for physical and mental health and its current thinking about flexible and remote working. This should be at the heart of any decisions and plans that you make.
To support this process, we have created a return to work flowchart and checklist that serves as a helpful reminder as you prepare your plans.