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Preparing for coming out of lockdown

We may not have an indication of exactly when we will come out of lockdown or what that will look like but undoubtedly, we will come out on the other side and we need to be looking ahead to see what can be done now, in preparation.

A lot of you reading this will have already been planning what you can and need to do to prepare your business and employees for coming out of lockdown. Your business may have been completely closed with all of your employees furloughed or you may have been able to continue your business operations with staff working from home or every other possible scenario in between.

Hopefully, you have been keeping in touch with your employees during this period and keeping them up to date with how the company is doing so there are no big surprises on either side when lockdown is lifted.

Preparation

You may have been thinking about how to prepare for when the government announces the next steps. So, what do we need to think about?

  • What restrictions will remain?
  • What social distancing rules will continue or be relaxed?
  • Will we all be wearing masks and other protective equipment?

We can only speculate on the answers to those questions at this point, but one thing is for sure, it won’t be a quick flick of the switch and we all return to what used to be ‘normal’ and it will differ between industries and business’ operational models.

Your employees

Think about how your employees feel. It is likely that they;

  • Will be nervous coming back to work for a variety of reasons
  • Will have concerns about social distancing measures and travelling to work
  • May have been re-thinking their life goals and career aspirations during lockdown
  • May want a career change
  • May want a simpler life

A return to work discussion with each employee – before they return, is a good idea to support them and allay any fears they may have.

If you are proposing temporary changes to their working hours, working patterns etc. you will need to consult with them and seek agreement.

Your workplace

Will we have to re-design our workplaces? Possibly, if your business must have staff coming into the workplace then you will need to think carefully of the design and layout to ensure your staff can safely adhere to social distancing measures.

You will also have to consider deep cleaning your premises and having tighter cleaning instructions. Think about guidelines for communal areas of your workplace, such as kitchens and toilets.

Flexible working/shift patterns. If there is no way you can change your workplace then you will need to consider whether you need everybody in at the same time or could you implement a temporary change to normal working hours.

Working from home. For a lot of businesses who may have been a little old school when it comes to working from home, this pandemic has certainly shown us that working from home is possible and can be as productive if not more so than being in the workplace. In the short term, if your employees can continue working from home effectively then that should continue.

What if the CJRS is not extended?

If the current job retention scheme is not extended beyond June this could pose a problem for your business, leaving a gap between getting up and running again, generating income and paying your staff. You may not have enough work for all of your staff initially, and you may need to consider the following temporary options:

  • Reduced hours
  • Restructure
  • Lay offs

Whatever you are planning to do, always seek advice on the options, ensure your contracts have the relevant short time working/layoff clauses and always follow due process to meet employment legislation.

If all alternatives have been explored but you have no choice but to consider a permanent option such as redundancy, make sure you follow the ACAS code of practice and guidelines for consultation and selection. This virus has not provided businesses with a short cut to deal with these situations and normal employment legislation continues to apply.

If we can help to guide your business through these testing times, please do get in touch for a no-obligation chat.

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