As employers welcome back staff in the coming weeks, Fiona Hamor catches up with People Management magazine to talk about what employers need to be aware of from a HR and employment law perspective.

While remote working has thrown up significant challenges for employers, a return to the office will equally create newfound problems generated by COVID-19. Recent employment tribunal rulings have highlighted some of the issues that have arisen from the pandemic, which have led to unfair dismissal claims being made.

Fiona says: “COVID-19 has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the workplace and businesses have had to adjust to new ways of operating. The return of workers over the coming months will continue to pose unprecedented challenges to employers. The need to understand, assess and act on potential risk is clear, if businesses are to remain operational and to protect against any potential future claims.”

Read the full article on the People Management website. https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/experts/legal/what-to%20consider-employees-return-to-workplace

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Pressure is clearly mounting on the Government to classify long-COVID as a disability. The aim is to provide thousands of employees with legal protection against any potential discrimination in the workplace.

Interestingly, a recent survey commissioned by the TUC revealed that just over half of people with symptoms, which typically include extreme tiredness, brain fog and dizziness, have experienced some form of discrimination or disadvantage at work.

The online poll of 3,500 people found that long-COVID sufferers are frequently met with disbelief and suspicion, with 19% of respondents saying that managers questioned the impact of the condition.

With calls for long-COVID to be given ‘occupational disease’ status for healthcare workers, there is clearly growing momentum for the condition to be given greater precedence in the workplace. While long-COVID is something that is entirely new, the Equality Act 2010 talks about disability as a physical or mental impairment that affects you day-to-day. The Act doesn’t contain a long list of conditions; it’s all about how it impacts your daily life. As such, there is a strong case for the emerging condition to be classed as such.

If long-COVID is categorised as a disability, employers will have to be very cautious about how they deal with the condition moving forward, to avoid any potential discrimination claims. However, from a HR perspective, the motivation shouldn’t be about avoiding employee action. Rather, it should be about what the long-term effects are going to be on workers, so that employers can put appropriate measures in place to support staff. The problem is, we don’t know a huge amount about the condition, which seems to differ enormously from one person to another.

As we wait to see how long-COVID is treated from a legal perspective, there are a number of key things that HR Directors and business owners should consider to ensure they are dealing with the condition in the most appropriate way – now and in the future.

If you would like to discuss how to implement an effective strategy to help manage occupational health, please contact Adam Pavey on 07980949525 or email Adam.Pavey@pannonecorporate.com

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Before the coronavirus pandemic began, it was estimated that around 4.6 million people in the UK worked from home. Despite being in the millions, this represented just 14% of the country’s 32.6 million workforce.

Figures from market and consumer data analyst, Statista, show a steady rise in home working over the last few years, growing by 1.69 million since 1998. Fast-forward to 2021 and the ‘WFH’ landscape has changed exponentially, with a reported 60% of the UK’s adult population working remotely. 

COVID-19 has undoubtedly left an indelible mark on the workplace and, despite positive steps being made towards opening up the economy and a return to ‘normal’ working life, businesses have had to adapt to new ways of operating and, importantly, new ways of managing their employees in a remote world.

Technology has clearly played a crucial part in the transition from the office to home, but performance management still remains a ‘hands-on’ task – whether that’s appraisals, reviews with underperforming workers, or rewarding high performing individuals. 

While remote performance can be harder to observe online, or over the phone, the argument for effective feedback, regular conversations about performance – good or bad – and setting clearly defined goals, has never been stronger. These are all fundamentals of good performance management, regardless of the current climate. 

Performance management is both complex and crucial in equal measures, made more so by the experiences of the last 12 months. Many factors need to be taken into consideration to ensure it is delivered effectively, particularly online. In a remote world, it’s all too easy for employees to misinterpret actions, emails and comments, which can result in them believing they are being bullied or discriminated against. What is clear is that the fundamentals of performance management remain important cornerstones of creating an effective, happy and well-run team – whether in the office or at home. 

If you would like to discuss any employment-related concerns within your workforce, contact Katie Kennedy on Katie.Kennedy@pannonecorporate.com or call 07711 767099.

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No one quite envisaged a year like 2020. It threw up a plethora of obstacles and challenges – the likes of which have not been experienced before by many businesses. Bill Dunkerley speaks to First Voice magazine about one particular issue that’s been grabbing the headlines in recent months – business interruption insurance.

So, why has it been dominating the front pages? At the end of last year the Supreme Court heard the appeal of a case initially brought by The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), concerning the correct interpretation of business interruption insurance policies – with the judgement ruling in favour of businesses on 15th January. Bill Dunkerley, Director in the Regulatory team, considers that it’s a potentially contentious issue and one that many businesses will now be eagerly watching, to see whether the ruling obliges insurers to pay out on claims relating to trade lost during the coronavirus.

“While the most scrupulous of business owners will pore over the finer details, few would have paid close attention to the inclusion, or exclusion, of specific diseases in their business interruption insurance policy. Yet, for many, this particular detail has left them potentially out of pocket and exposed, as a result of Covid -19.”

Read the full article on the First Voice website.

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