For Employers

Can I insist staff return to work?
Can I insist staff return to work?

You will know by now that the Governments official advice to employees about returning to work changed from the start of this month.

Previously, it had been the Governments position that everyone who could work from home should do so to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

But from August 1, Boris Johnson says that employers can have more discretion in the matter meaning that homeworking could continue, or workplaces could be made safe by following the Governments guidelines and staff could be allowed back.

This slow return to the workplace will inevitably bring with it some anxiety on the part of employees. How will they know their workplace is safe? What if they live with someone who is shielding? What if they have to use public transport to get to work?

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Return to work  what employers need to know
Return to work what employers need to know

The relaxation of the lockdown from July 4 means that many businesses are now preparing to open for the first time in more than 100 days.

The three-month lockdown has been an incredibly frustrating period for very many companies particularly those in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors and it is understandable that they will want to get up and running again as soon as possible.

But there is much work which needs to be done to be certain that the workplace can be reopened safely and protect the employer from possible legal action by staff and customers in the event of a coronavirus outbreak.

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Women at work  what Coronavirus has shown us
Women at work what Coronavirus has shown us

A new report has painted a pretty bleak picture of life for working women during the lockdown.

Those forced to work from home even when alongside a male partner have often found their working day interrupted by the need to care for children or carry out domestic chores.

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that in mixed-sex households where both partners work, women have picked up a disproportionate amount of the household management tasks, often at the expense of their own work.

And the IFS warns that this is no short-term event. The institute says there is likely to be a long-lasting impact on womens professional lives as a result of the pandemic including slowing down the progress made over the past few years in narrowing the gender pay gap.

The Government effectively made gender pay gap reporting optional earlier this year as the coronavirus took hold and the number of companies doing so has fallen by half as a result. Worryingly, early indications are that the gap has risen over the last 12 months. Analysis by the Financial Times found the average pay gap increased from 11.9 per cent to 12.9 per cent in the year to April.

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Reopening your company  what you need to do
Reopening your company what you need to do

The coronavirus pandemic has affected every business in the country. Most have been shut, others have continued trading in a reduced capacity and some have reallocated all their staff to work from home or taken advantage of the Governments furlough scheme.
But we are now entering a period where a managed, staged return to work for many businesses is likely.

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Furlough
Furlough

It is a truth probably worth remembering at this most difficult of times that nobody goes into business to lay people off.

For the very great majority of employers, letting people go is the very last thing they want to do.

But, as these last few weeks have shown us, sometimes even the best-run business is forced to take difficult decisions.

As more and more companies have shut down in the face of the coronavirus, more and more businesses have faced the prospect of laying people off, or at best putting them on furlough.

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For Employees

Slavery not just a matter for the history books
Slavery not just a matter for the history books

The public conversation over Britains colonial past and our links to the slave trade has dominated headlines for much of the summer.

The removal or not of statues of people who had links to slavery, or profited from it, has been an ongoing theme in towns and cities across the country.

But the issue of slavery is not just a matter for historians or philosophical debate.

Modern day slavery is, unfortunately, all too common and continuing to exploit and destroy lives on a huge scale.

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Coronavirus: Do I have to return to the workplace?
Coronavirus: Do I have to return to the workplace?

The start of this month sees the biggest relaxation of the coronavirus restrictions since the lockdown was imposed three months ago.

Shops, restaurants, museums, hairdressers and pubs are all being allowed to reopen in one form or another meaning tens of thousands of us are being asked to go back to our workplace for the first time in more than 100 days.

For many of us, this will be an anxious time.

We have got used to isolating and the thought of mingling with people again certainly whilst the virus is still at large in the population can be worrying.

But we all have rights which will help protect us in the workplace or even if we can continue to work from home and help keep us safe from the threat of Covid.

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The hidden cost of coronavirus for working women
The hidden cost of coronavirus for working women

We like to think that we live in a hugely civilised, modern society.

But when something happens which upsets our way of life such as coronavirus - it doesnt take long for some old stereotypes to emerge.

With lots of us forced to work from home, the kids being unable to go to school, and a state of national emergency reducing us to lockdown, youd have thought that wed have all pulled together to share the burden of domestic chores and home educating.

But if you look at the latest figures, Im afraid they paint an entirely different story.

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that in mixed-sex households where both partners work, its the women who have been picking up the extra burden of housework and looking after the kids during lockdown.

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Coronavirus  why employees need support over mental health
Coronavirus why employees need support over mental health

There has never been a more important time for employers to look after their staff.

As we start to think about a return to work, all employers will need to recognise they owe a duty of care to their workforce with regards to the impact of this unprecedented situation.

And mental health will be a key issue as people come to terms with a changed world, face all-too natural anxieties about mixing with people again as we start to return to work and adapt to the uncertainties which are certain to exist for many months to come.

Existing mental health issues, particularly anxieties are likely to be exaggerated during this situation. The worry, stress and uncertainty caused by living through an international crisis should not be underestimated and will test the coping strategies of a good many people.

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Homeworking
Homeworking

I suspect that if somebody had told us this time last year that most of us would be working from home by now, wed have given them a bit of an old-fashioned look.

And I daresay for many of us the thought of not having to go to the office, factory or workplace for our jobs would have seemed rather appealing.

Now that its happened, of course, things are somewhat different.

Partly, that's because we are not just working from home, we are in a state of lockdown at the same time. We cant go out, cant meet our friends, cant get to the gym or the shops or do any of the hundreds of things we do in more normal times to keep balance, perspective and context in our lives.

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Fighting back against the bullies
Fighting back against the bullies

Fighting back against the bullies

You cannot help but have noticed that the issue of workplace bullying has risen to the top of the agenda in recent weeks.

When Sir Philip Rutnam resigned his post as the top civil servant in the Home Office he spoke of a vicious and orchestrated campaign against him and also made a number of allegations about Home Secretary Priti Patels management style.

We cant know the specific facts of the case, but if nothing else it illustrates that bullying can have an impact on anyone at work, regardless of the seniority of their position.

So, what should you do if you think you have been the victim of bullying?

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