Return to work must be gradual and meet three key tests, says HR body the CIPD
Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, has commented in response to the Prime Minister’s press conference on the return to work:
“Today’s announcement signalled that the return to work will increasingly be at the employer’s discretion, but consultation with employees is essential to ensure they have a say in how and when they return.
“It’s vital that organisations consider the physical safety and mental wellbeing of their people before returning them to the existing workplace. They should first consider if they can meet three conditions: 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. Even with those measures in place the return to workplaces must still be gradual so that social distancing can be maintained.
“A return to work doesn’t necessarily mean a return to the old workplace. A recent survey from CIPD shows employers, overall, report home workers are at least as productive as other workers and plan to double the proportion of staff who work from home regularly once the crisis is over compared to pre-pandemic levels. We have a long road ahead to get Britain back to work, but by engaging with staff and taking the time to think through workplace protections, businesses will be in a much better position to bring people back at the right time and in the right way.”
New CIPD research suggests many workers are anxious about returning to their normal place of work. The survey of 1080 employees by YouGov found:
- One in four (26%) people who’ve been attending their workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic say their employer is putting pressure on them to do so
- One in five (21%) people who’ve been attending their workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic also say they aren’t satisfied with the health and safety measures put in place by their employer.
- Nearly half (49%) of people that are not currently attending their workplace are anxious about returning, rising to 57% of people with a non-physical health condition and 48% of people with a physical health condition.
- One in ten (12%) workers don’t trust their employer to provide a safe environment when they do return to the workplace.
- Commuting is another worry – over a third (35%) of all workers who were surveyed saying they feel anxious about travelling to work. This increased to 60% for those who live in London.
- Lack of information is also an issue highlighted by the survey. Just over half (55%) of all workers said their employer had given adequate information about changes regarding a return to the workplace. While less than half (44%) said their employer has adequately consulted with them about returning to their normal workplace. This falls to 28% of people with a disability.