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.
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.
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.
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.
Change is on its way
Theres not much we know for certain about what will happen to UK employment law in the wake of Brexit.
But what I can tell you is that things are likely to change.
The Prime Minister has made it clear that he cannot and will not guarantee that our regulations will remain closely aligned with those of the EU.
Indeed, the possibility of a guarantee was explicitly written out of the Withdrawal Agreement. Whilst an original draft contained clauses which guaranteed the protection of all EU derived workers rights, by the time the document gained parliamentary assent these had disappeared.
Have you heard of IR35 yet?
Chances are that if you havent, you soon will.
Thats because it comes into effect from April 6 and could have a major impact on all medium or large-sized private sector businesses which employ contractors.
From that date, responsibility for deciding the employment status of those contractors for tax purposes will switch to the employer doing the hiring and away from the contractor themselves.