Whether it spreads or not, the coronavirus ‘bug’ is already everywhere and, irrespective of whether you consider it mass hysteria or sensible precaution, the challenges it presents are real. If an employee is advised to self-isolate, they will not be coming into work.
Whilst two weeks sitting at home might initially seem appealing, it is unlikely to be a lucrative option for anyone concerned. Clearly it is bad news for business productivity and profits. For employees, even with statutory sick pay (SSP) becoming payable from day one of isolation, SSP is not the most sizeable of income streams. It means at least two weeks of reduced earnings (unless they are entitled to contractual sick pay or take annual leave instead). By far the most favourable option is for the employee to work from home, which begs the question: Can your staff work remotely?
Although COVID-19 (hopefully) will not be with us forever, the tide is shifting towards accommodating flexible working. Research recently revealed that 87% of employees would like to work flexibly if they could and there is growing political support for flexible working becoming the default position.
Now is seemingly an opportune time to establish if you can make flexible working work for you.
- Set ground rules – Explain what you expect when staff are working from home; schedule check-ins such as conference calls or skype meetings; consider amendments to employment contracts and a home-working policy.
- Check your tech – In an era of cloud technology and ever-increasing data storage capacity on mobile devices, remote working can be accommodated with increasing ease. However, remote systems are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Ensure that your systems are secure and sufficient to protect and track data.
- Don’t forget the small print – Check insurance policies and mortgage terms; consider tax and health and safety implications and conduct risk assessments.
If you can make it work, the benefits include: Increased productivity, motivation and skills retention in addition to the ability to withstand disruptions like adverse weather and epidemics!
If you would like more information on the content of this article or employment law generally, please contact Melanie Rowe on 01872 227006 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org