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Preparing to Return to Work: HR in a Post-Lockdown World

Preparing to Return to Work: HR in a Post-Lockdown World

We are living in very strange times and it is not the first time I have said that…

Who would ever have thought 3 months ago that we would all be cooped up in our own homes for days at a time, let out for an hour, having to queue for our shopping, fretting about toilet roll and tinned tomatoes, baking banana bread and relying on a thing called Zoom we had barely even heard of? Some days, I feel like we’re trapped in some weird apocalyptic Netflix drama – but maybe that’s just because I’ve spent a while watching that too – Tiger King and White Lines anyone?


Moving Forward – HR in a Post-Lockdown World

However, lockdown didn’t keep us down for long. We adapted surprisingly quickly, kept going and it’s starting to feel like we’re finally coming out on the other side.

That’s the reason for this blog to be honest…

My raison d’etre is to help small businesses navigate the intricacies and plain madness that comes from employing staff, so I decided to make things easier for you all and put together a pack with all the common questions I am being asked by you about the ‘BIG RETURN’ – along with some guidance, information and resources that should help ease your concerns.

The amazing Helen Fleet will also be contributing from a financial standpoint (we are all in this together).


So, you want to open up and start the BIG RETURN, what should you do?

Firstly, you need to think about what your organisation needs to look like; i.e. will it be the same or will you need to pivot and change?

  • Do you need to bring people back into the office or keep them working from home for a while or for the foreseeable future?
  • Have you furloughed staff you need to bring back or are you keeping them on furlough or a bit of both?
  • Will some staff be returning at all?


Bringing People Back

What should you be considering before you bring people back? Making these considerations is a great place to start…

1. The big first tranche of returnees will occur in July where the furlough rules are changing to allow employees to be furloughed on a part-time basis. If you need to take employees off furlough, it is advisable to write to them to have it confirmed. In our COVID support kit, we’ve crafted a brief returning from furlough letter template to make this an easy task.

2. You need to do a Risk Assessment for each returning employee.  Unfortunately, the only COVID specific risk assessment I could find is from the Northern Ireland HSE but its great and I highly recommend you use this as a basis for your risk assessments. You can view it within the risk assessment pack of our toolkit here.

3. You need to get your offices ready so that the appropriate level of social distancing can occur. It’s also a good idea to deep clean the office if you can and provide plenty of hand sanitiser, soap and notices from the HSE around hygiene and safe practice. Encouraging good hygiene practice will help to keep to kill the virus.

4. You also need to think about your employees’ journeys to work. Does this put them at risk?

5. It may be worth considering staggering and extending hours, and whether working more flexibly could help your business get back quicker. Check out our Flexible Working Policy within our pack for more information on this.

6. Do you even want your employees in the office at all – or would you prefer they worked from home? If so, we’ve also created a Working from Home Policy to help you formalise and control this agreement.

7. You may want to restructure.

8. You may need to consider redundancies.

These are just some of the considerations you may want to make before rushing back to work.


When They Return

Mental health, divorce, feelings of anxiety and displacement, pure joy and relief – these are just some of the things you must prepare to face on your return.

But don’t worry, CrosseHR are here to help and we have you covered. Our comprehensive Return to Work Toolkit has been drawn up by experts and our team. It’s designed to help provide you with everything you need to get started, including:

  • Introduction
  • Information on Ending Furlough
  • Return to Work Letter Template
  • Information for Directors
  • Health and Wellbeing Policy
  • Sickness and Isolation Support
  • Health and Safety Guidance
  • Changing Terms and Conditions
  • Childcare and Returning to Work
  • Maternity Issues
  • Conducting Return to Work Interviews
  • Flexible Working Policy
  • Flexible Working Request Form
  • Flexible Working Methods
  • Homeworking Policy
  • Stress Awareness Template
  • Supporting Employees – Debt
  • Energise – Tackle Business Finances with Helen Fleet
  • Supporting Employees – Divorce

So feel free to download it, it’s on us! And, if you want to chat further, we are always delighted to help.

Olga Crosse, on behalf of the team at Crosse HR.



10 tips to help you tackle discipline in the work place

10 tips to help you tackle discipline in the work place

Disciplinary in the workplace can be the most difficult part of managing your relationship with your employees. If you reach the point of no return and need to terminate the contract of an employee, the stressful nature of the situation can often fill employers with dread. Here’s our top 10 tips to help you deal with discipline in your business and ensure you are protected from any future employment tribunal claims.

1. Notify the employee of their misconduct in writing and invite them to a disciplinary meeting to discuss the consequences and next steps. Hold the meeting early in the week in a private and neutral location.

2. Ensure you have two other impartial employees present at the meeting to act as witnesses. This will help you avoid any ‘he said, she said’ disputes arising in the future or any misunderstanding of what occurred or what was said during the meeting.

3. Anticipate reactions. From what you know about the employee, try to anticipate how they will react to the disciplinary and pre-empt their questions and response. By taking time to prepare for all eventualities in advance you will be able to stay calm, control the meeting and be best placed to lead it to a successful conclusion.

4. Keep the meeting short and stick to the facts. It needn’t take any longer than 10 to 15 minutes. Simply cover the reasons for discipline or termination and focus on how the employees conduct contravened the company’s policies. Provide a short, clear statement about the decision, next steps and how logistical details will be handled.

5. Avoid getting into an argument or debate over the misconduct, this will only lead to a more stressful situation for you and your employee. Keep the meeting formal and professional and avoid getting upset, angry, raising your voice or using forceful words or behaviour.

6. Avoid any misunderstandings. Be firm and clearly communicate your policies on the poor conduct you are dealing with. Focus on the consequences of the conduct and the actions you will take next. By making sure you provide a written notice to the employee, and requiring their signature to confirm they understand the situation, you will avoid any misunderstandings or confusion in the future.

7. A written paper trail will help cover your back in the event of any disputes in the future. Ensure you document everything in the employee’s personnel file, including:

  • The nature of the misconduct and date it occurred
  • The nature of discipline imposed and date it was communicated to the employee
  • The invitation to a disciplinary meeting
  • Attendance of everyone present at the meeting
  • The minutes of the meeting
  • Supporting evidence of the misconduct
  • Written notification of the disciplinary procedure, signed by the employee to confirm their understanding of the situation.

8. Answer any questions. During the disciplinary or termination meeting, invite any questions from the employee to ensure they leave with all the information they require and understand the next steps of the procedure.

9. It’s unwise to terminate employment on the spot. Consult an HR specialist or employment law solicitor to ensure you have all the documentation and evidence required to avoid any future legal action for unfair dismissal.

10. Be dignified. Treat the employee with empathy and respect, this will tend to deliver a more positive reaction from the employee. Give the employee time to gather their thoughts. If they’re being suspended or terminated, escort them from the premises in a dignified manner. Offer information regarding the next steps or what happens post termination.
For an informal conversation about any concerns you have with your firm’s disciplinary procedures, Crosse HR are here to help. Give us a call on 0330 555 1139 or email us at hello@crossehr.co.uk.