CIPD in the news: returning to the workplace, bereavement support and reducing hours

Read the latest on the CIPD’s voice and influence work with government, media and a global community of people professionals

As part of its purpose to champion better work and working lives, the CIPD has been raising the voice of the people profession through influencing government and gaining widespread media coverage on the crucial issues affecting work today. Here are some highlights from the last two weeks.

A gradual return to the workplace

New CIPD research shows that many employees are anxious about returning to the workplace and feel inadequately prepared by their employer. The mental wellbeing and physical safety of employees should be prioritised while considering a phased return to the workplace; but only once three conditions have been met: is it essential for them to be in the workplace to do their job, is it sufficiently safe and is it mutually agreed with workers?

In response to the Prime Minister’s announcement that returning to the workplace should be increasingly at the discretion of employers, the CIPD has highlighted the importance of staff consultation in bringing people back at the right time and in the right way.

Our response was publicised across national media, including the BBC, Metro, Independent and iNews. In an interview with talkRADIO, CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese spoke of the importance of people having a say in how and when they return to their usual workplace. Peter also spoke to BBC News Online and The Telegraph about home working.

Support for bereaving employees

Bereavement can have a significant impact on people and their work, so it’s vital employers support them with compassion and appropriate time off work. Jack’s Law was introduced in April 2020 and gives a legal right to paid bereavement leave for working parents who lose a child under 18 years old. In an open letter to Business Secretary Alok Sharma, the CIPD is calling on the Government to do more by introducing a right to bereavement leave and pay for all employees experiencing a close family bereavement. This is most needed now, when many have been touched by loss, unable to gather and grieve at funerals.

The CIPD is calling for organisations to develop policies which offer long-term support and equip line managers to support employees as they grieve. Newly published guidance on comprehensive bereavement support for employers and line managers is available on the CIPD website. Key recommendations from this guidance have been promoted across trade media, including HR Magazine, Office Insight, Working Mums and Personnel Today

Cutting hours rather than headcount

As the furlough scheme comes to an end, the CIPD would like employers to consider reducing hours as a viable alternative to creating redundancies. Research led by Cambridge University shows that leaving paid work is connected to poorer mental health but staff who’ve been furloughed or work reduced hours don’t experience the same decline. The CIPD’s Good Work Index revealed that three in ten employees had excessive workloads before the UK lockdown, and this remained consistent in April, May and June. However, an increasing number of employees feel that they have too little work (excluding those who have been furloughed). Both challenges can be addressed through better job design, reskilling and redeploying within organisations. Read our recommended solutions in Personnel Today.

Reducing bias in recruitment

It’s important that businesses assess job candidates fairly, on a level playing field. Recruitment, reward and promotion processes should all challenge biases and embrace people of different backgrounds and cultures. For more on blind recruitment, listen to our interview with Naga Munchetty on BBC Radio 5 Live (at 1 hour 25 mins).

While the UK Parliament is at recess throughout August we’ll continue to amplify the voice of the people profession with key stakeholders, policy-makers and business organisations to champion better work and working lives.

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