The government guidelines at the moment are incredibly difficult to navigate; “Only go out for food, health reasons or work “(if you cannot work from home). The government has not asked all businesses to shut and even state that it is important for business to carry on. How do we get the staff back to work?
These uncertain times have forced many of us to change the way we work. Some companies have had to stop due to government instruction and others such as manufacturing companies, construction and other types of organisations have had to completely close because either the order book has diminished or due to the way that they operate, means that it was not possible for staff to observe the social distancing guidelines issued by the government. Of course, employers have an obligation to provide safe working environments for their staff, so have had to take drastic measures by closing their workplaces. I am pleased to say that some of those who I am speaking to now have been able to put measures in place to ensure safe working and are beginning to re-open their operations. This is great news for the staff, the future of the company and as a whole, the economy. However, this is now creating a new problem. How do we get the staff back to work?
Employees have, for the last five weeks or so, been paid 80% of their salary or a maximum of £2500 per month and for some of those who are lucky, 100% of their pay, for, let’s face it, doing nothing.
The government guidelines at the moment are incredibly difficult to navigate; “Only go out for food, health reasons or work “(if you cannot work from home). The government has not asked all businesses to shut and even state that it is important for business to carry on.
So, for those businesses who have not been asked to close but did so due to the impact of covid-19, what do they do when it is time to re-open? Quite rightly, people are nervous, there is a pandemic going on and they do not want to catch the virus or spread the virus. The government guidelines state that employers should support their staff if they reluctant. However, they have jobs that can be performed whilst minimising the risk and so are being asked to return to work. People are refusing to retun but are they right to?
Well, they are right to refuse if, they have officially been classified as high risk, or are shielding, showing symptoms, caring for someone who is showing symptoms or have children at home with no other childcare available. In these cases, either Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or the job retention scheme is applicable and companies receive financial support (until end of June at the moment) to assist with this. However, what if none of the above applies to the individual? Well, if the work is available, and the workplace is observing the guidelines then they should be attending work. The other option at the moment, is that if an employee does not attend work, then it is unpaid leave.
Some of you may be thinking that this is harsh and unfair but let’s remember that the governments’ job retention scheme is in place to support companies who are affected by Coronavirus. The Furlough process is for those employees who are unable to work as a result of the company not having any work for them to do due to Coronavirus, or the employee is unwell or has shielding or caring responsibilities due to Coronavirus. Companies are unable to claim for employees that this does not apply to and in these uncertain times, where a majority of organisations are experiencing financial hardship, the money is not available to pay those who do not want to work.
The government are announcing their guidance over the coming days and weeks and I will be following this very closely, analysing and providing you advice to get your business back up and running and your staff back to work.
Employers need their staff to ensure the company can get through these extremely tough times. The alternative is far worse.