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Back in February, the Government set out a step-by-step plan on how we would move forward regarding Coronavirus in England. Since 19 July 2021, we have moved to another phase of the plan. This does not mean the pandemic is over, although many of the legal restrictions are lifted, we are still not in a situation of returning to normal. 

Moving to the next phase means: 

🟒 There is no requirement to stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with. 
🟒 No limits on the number of people you can meet, although trying to keep close contact to a minimum and meeting outdoors where possible, 
🟒 No longer instructing people to work from home if they can and recommending a gradual return over the summer 
🟒 No longer a requirement to wear face coverings, only a recommendation to wear them in crowded areas such as public transport 
🟒 No longer limits on the number of people attending life events 
🟒 No longer limits on attending communal worship 

Returning to the workplace - communication  

A good starting point is to start communicating with your employees, explaining your plans to them with your reasons. Each employee may have a different view, with some eager to return to the workplace and others more reluctant. As the current government advice is a gradual return, businesses should move forward with caution. The following are five steps to follow if employees are reluctant: 
1) Invite the employee to a meeting to do discuss the situation and listen to their concerns, especially if they are vulnerable or have a disability. 
2) Consider their concerns or proposals and see if you can accommodate it. 
3) Consider if a compromise is possible in the short to medium term. 
4) Explain your reasons for why a return to the office is required. 
5) Keep a record of any decisions made. 

Other considerations 

🟒 Comply with all health and safety requirements and ensure that you have taken all practicable steps to control the risk. 
🟒 Consider the risk of whistleblowing claims if specific safety concerns are raised. 
🟒Carry out an individual risk assessment with vulnerable employees and consider if you need to involve occupational health. 

Keeping up to date 

It is important to keep up to date with the guidance provided by the government, explaining your plans on why a return to the workplace is important and explaining the measures you have taken to reduce the risk within the workplace. Keeping regular contact with your employees and understanding if they have any concerns to see if you are able to resolve them. If after the above informal approach, employees are still reluctant then a formal process should be followed.  


Only after everything has been fully explored should an employer consider a disciplinary process, noting that there are risks involved if this is a route that is taken, especially as the government is only recommending a gradual return to the workplace.  
Please do not hesitate to contact if you would like to discuss the plan you would like to put in place. Taking HR from 'TO DO' to 'DONE'. 
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