The prospect of returning to the workplace following lockdown will no doubt be met by staff with mixed responses. While some employees may be raring to return, others are likely to face a range of barriers: from medical issues, fears for loved ones and workplace safety concerns, to travel-related and childcare obstacles.
Normal absence management policies are unlikely to be suitable in the context of Covid-19. So HR professionals need to think carefully about how to adjust those internal processes to fit the unusual nature of the post-lockdown return. They also need to be ready to respond to, and where necessary accommodate, individual employee’ circumstances on a case-by-case basis.
Take a moment to see if the characters below are familiar to you…
Shielding Shona… received a shielding letter, as she has severe respiratory problems, and has been self-isolating in accordance with government guidance since the start of lockdown.
Protective Pete… is fit and well but is concerned about returning to work as his partner is pregnant. He doesn’t want to risk picking up the virus at work and taking it home with him. He also cares for his elderly mother who is vulnerable.
Fearful Ffion… has expressed strong concerns about the risks of working on a production line as she does not feel that sufficient care is being taken to protect her health and safety at work. She is also worried about travelling by tube to get to work.
Struggling Stan… has three children of primary school age and is unable to return to the workplace until all of his children are back at school.
Symptomatic Steve… has been contacted by the NHS test and trace service and is required to self-isolate for the next 14 days.
Jet-set Josephine... booked a trip to New Zealand for a family wedding pre-lockdown. She will need to self-isolate for 14 days when she returns, in accordance with government quarantine rules.
Do the issues faced by the individuals above seem likely to arise in your organisation? If so, we recommend joining our webinar – “Reluctant Returners and Absence Management in the Context of Covid-19”.
Our upcoming webinar will explore:
- The 'new' types of absence you might see arising in your organisation as a result of Covid-19, given that some employees may be reluctant or unable to return.
- Whether your current policies are fit for purpose and adjustments you could make to your normal processes.
- How to implement changes to your existing policies, including communicating those changes to your staff.