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The challenge for business and HR continues

View profile for Julie Temple
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The challenge for business and HR continues

It was unusual for me to listen to the Prime Minister’s address on 10 May 2020 as it happened. I have made the deliberate and conscious decision to stay away from as much of the news around Covid-19 as possible. The conjecture and speculation are endless and unhelpful to business leaders and HR who are trying to find a path forward.

In relation to the position on work, which is what I am professionally interested in and my team will be advising on in the coming days and weeks, there was a shift from “you should work from home if you can, and only go to work if you must” to “work from home if you can, but .. go to work if you can’t”. Not only that, but it also went further and the Prime Minister said: “anyone who can’t work from home … should be actively encouraged to go to work”.

This return to the workplace will not be across the board; it can’t be. Some businesses have been required to close (see here for up to date details) and are likely to remain so. There was a suggestion, conditional of course, that hospitality and public places might start to reopen in July (but no earlier).

It is also clear it will not apply to all employees who currently can’t work from home whether their workplace is required to be closed or not. Businesses must ensure the workplace is safe (with guidance to follow) and employees should avoid “public transport if at all possible – because we must and will maintain social distancing, and capacity will, therefore, be limited”.

I say without criticism that it is a shame, knowing this announcement was to be made on 10 May 2020, that the guidance wasn’t already in place (although there has been enough rumour and conjecture about it) as inevitably employers and employees alike will now be clambering about what this means for them. 

  • Should I encourage employees back to work?
  • How far can I go with my encouragement?
  • What arrangements must be in place?

We will be considering the guidance when it is released and providing further comment as soon as we can. In the meantime, please get in touch.

If you need advice, please call our specialist BLHR and Employment team. I am based in our Colchester office and can be contacted on 01206 217318 or