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Acas updates coronavirus guidance to cover how to handle returning to work

Makbool Javaid, Partner - Simons Muirhead & Burton

Acas has updated its coronavirus guidance to cover best practice around how to handle returning to work. Covid19 has caused a lot of uncertainty in the workplace and Acas’s helpline has seen a record increase in calls from employers and employees wanting advice on how to handle changes to their work situation. Acas’s advice is for employers and their staff to have early discussions about any plans to return to work and try to come to an agreement. These talks can take place with trade union or employee representatives and health and safety representatives, but all staff should be kept informed of plans and be able to feed into discussions.

The Issues to address are: (i) how staff will travel to and from work; (ii) how health and safety is being reviewed and managed, including sharing the latest risk assessment; (iii) planned adjustments to the workplace, e.g. hand sanitisation facilities, social distancing measures; (iv) possible phased return of the workforce, e.g. some staff returning before others; (v) staff feeling they are not able to return to work due to worries around catching the virus, childcare/caring responsibilities, or they could be an extremely vulnerable person or living with someone who is. Where the latter is concerned, Acas  highlight that some practical options to consider are arranging for the person to work different hours temporarily to avoid peak time travel or keep someone on furlough if they are temporarily unable to work.

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