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Covid-19: The Return to Work

Robert Maddocks

Robert Maddocks

This article outlines the ramifications, in terms of employment law, of a return to the office workplace and offers some practical steps that can be taken.

The main issues that we plan to cover are employer considerations in preparing for the return of workers to the workplace, communicating information about new working procedures to staff and employee rights on the return to the workplace.  There are some tips on employees travelling to and from work and the issues this may cause. We will also provide details of the Governments latest Furlough advice, including the Flexible Furlough Scheme and how this can be implemented.

Key tips

1. Work from home

  • Employers should continue to allow employees work from home if possible
  • Employers should ensure employees have the correct equipment to work from home

2. Risk assessment

  • Ideally completed prior to employees returning to the office
  • Consult with employees to help draw up the risk assessment
  • All employers with at least 5 employees must record the risk assessment in writing
  • Those employers with at least 50 employees should consider displaying risk assessment results on the company website, although this isn’t compulsory

3. Measures to make workplace safe

Maintain 2m distancing wherever possible:

  • Ensure signs in place reminding staff of employer measures and hygiene requirements
  • Arrange one way system through the office, if possible. Employer may want to consider opening up areas to assist with flow of movement
  • Ensure shared facilities have adequate social distancing e.g. boardroom and kitchen
  • Arrange staggered start and finish times
  • Avoid face-to-face working and consider side to side or back to back working
  • Use plexiglass screens to separate people

4. Hygiene in the workplace

  • Provide handwashing facilities with soap, water and drying facilities
  • Increase availability of hand sanitisers at strategic locations in the workspace
  • Increase frequency of cleaning of offices and record cleaning by service companies
  • Clean office equipment and work areas between shifts on a regular basis

5. Travel to work

  • Avoid public transport wherever possible and encourage private travel
  • Avoid joint occupancy of company vehicles where possible

6. Returning employees

  • Bring back those who have access to private travel and those who want to return to the office
  • For clinically vulnerable employees, consider Furlough Leave until end of October 2020, work from home, part time work or safest available place within the office
  • Consider arranging private travel/parking if appropriate/affordable

7. Employee refusing to work

  • Talk to staff, explain measures taken to make workplace safe and seek to allay any fears
  • Offer other options of Furlough Leave, home working, flexible working, consider subsidising private travel
  • Keep records of all communications with staff especially with there is the potential for a dispute

8. Flexible Furlough Scheme

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until end of October 2020
  • When implementing FFS arrangements record a new written agreement with the employee
  • From 1 July 2020 employers can only Furlough employees who have previously been furloughed for at least 3 weeks between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 other than those employees returning from family leave although conditions apply
  • From 1 July, there is no minimum Furlough period and employees can be brought back part-time for any hours or shift patterns agreed between employer and employee, providing this is recorded in writing
  • Employees can now be rotated on and off Furlough to accommodate hours worked by the employee

Contact Us

We held a Zoom webinar event on Tuesday 30th June 2020 on “The Return to Work” and we will consider re-running this event if you can confirm if you would be interested.  Please contact

Should you have any issues around HR/Employment law at the moment please get in contact with Robert Maddocks


Robert Maddocks, Associate

t: 0161 827 4604