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Returning to work post lockdown – the new normal for employers?

The spotlight is very much on businesses to ensure public safety more than ever before.

In the short term;

  • Whether it is to allow employees to work for other employers, either to supplement an income or contribute to the care sector, or encourage more volunteering, employers will need to evolve to be attractive for candidates and to retain their staff.
  • Flexibility around working hours, places of work and ways of working is inevitable.
  • Developing your online presence and communications for customers, suppliers and colleagues will be essential.
  • Ensure you have a grip on data security with home or remote working to ensure compliance with your data related obligations.

In the long term;

  • Employees might be looking for employers who offer pandemic insurance. This might include a change to the company sick pay scheme.
  • Flexible working is a glaringly obvious change. It is likely that rejecting applications where work can be carried out remotely will be far tougher to justify.
  • Reputation and handling of staff, customer and supplier wellbeing will stick – comparing the press and public response to Timpsons’ decision to top up their staff’s furlough pay at a cost to them of £500 million a week, versus the criticism aimed at Liverpool FC for initially claiming the furlough grant or for Virgin Atlantic seeking a government bail out, will have an impact on share prices, public confidence and customer footfall.

Redundancies

  • It is likely that redundancies will continue to be necessary and more so when the furlough grant ceases. Certain industry sectors are likely to be more affected than others.
  • Redundancy is a potentially fair reason for dismissal and where there has been a closure of a business, or a diminished requirement to carry out work of a particular kind, dismissals may be common.
  • There are particular requirements to consider around notifications and consultation when proposing to dismiss more than 20 people and there is always a requirement to engage in meaningful consultation with trade unions, representatives and individuals in order to try to avoid redundancies.
  • Any employee with at least two complete, continuous years’ service has the right to be paid a redundancy payment if dismissed by reason of redundancy.
  • Reduced hours, alternative roles and lay off may be considered as alternatives to dismissal through consultation, as would furlough in the short term.
  • Where a business is no longer solvent, a worker may be able to recover contractual payments and statutory redundancy payments from the national insurance fund, although these amounts are limited.

There is a sense of national optimism, despite the gloomy, fiscal landscape. Tens of millions of workers have lost their jobs in the USA since March. Global trading and post-Brexit trading relationships will significantly impact the UK’s recovery.

It is only through ensuring a smooth and continuous easing of the lockdown restrictions and a sustainable re-opening of the economy, with workers’ rights and health at the very centre of that, will the UK be able to lead the way in recovering and setting the foundations for the post-coronavirus generations.

For further information and advice, please contact Employment Law Partner Joe Nicholls on 0117 943 4820 or email joe.nicholls@wards.uk.com  

 

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UPDATE

Wards Solicitors LLP are working and available for existing cases as well as for new business and new clients.  Our eleven branches remain closed to the public but our lawyers are still working away to ensure that we continue to provide excellent client service. While we are currently unable to offer face to face client meetings, this is under regular review.  Our prime concern is the safety of our clients and our staff.

For enquiries:

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We look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you.

Wards Solicitors LLP