As businesses work towards a full or partial return to the workplace, the CIPD is urging that, in addition to meeting government guidelines and the latest restrictions, they ensure they meet three key tests before bringing people back to the workplace.

When restrictions begin to ease a key UK government objective is that 'employers ensure workplaces are safe whilst also enabling working from home'. It continues to update the Working safely during coronavirus guidance, and given the rapidly changing situation, employers should ensure they remain fully up to date with the latest guidance and plan in a way that protects their staff and allows flexibility to cope with the changing environment.  

When planning a return to the workplace (where homeworking is not possible), the guiding principle should be how to safeguard the health and wellbeing of their people. Where working from home is not possible the CIPD is urging businesses to ensure they can meet three key tests before bringing their people back to the workplace:

  • Is it essential?

    Employers should engage with their people to understand if returning to the workplace is essential for productivity or wellbeing. If a return is essential, the employer should give clear guidance. Where possible, in keeping with the latest government advice, the employer should continue to support working from home - in the short term while significant health risks and legitimate concerns for safety remain, and in the longer term as part of more flexible ways of working for the future.

  • Is it sufficiently safe?

    Employers have a duty of care to identify and manage risks to ensure that the workplace is sufficiently safe to return to. This could include reconfiguring workspaces and common areas to allow appropriate social distancing, possible changes to working hours, and increased workplace cleaning and sanitation measures. 

  • Is it mutually agreed?

    CIPD research found that four in ten people are anxious about returning to work. It’s vital that there is a clear dialogue between employers and employees so concerns can be raised and individual needs and worries taken into account. To manage some of these issues, there will need to be flexibility on both sides to accommodate different working times or schedules.

As well as following the latest government guidance and legal obligations regarding health and safety, using our Returning to the workplace planner employers can assess their readiness to meet these three key tests.

Region specific COVID-19 guidance is available on the region specific CIPD websites: CIPD Asia, CIPD Middle East, CIPD Ireland

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