Those of us who work and have children of school age already know, only too well, the critical importance of schools remaining open if we are to work productively either from home or in the office. The government’s recent announcement on 12 October that everything is being done to keep schools safe, open and operational therefore provided a degree of comfort.
However, as talk now moves to ‘circuit breaks’ and a possible extension to half term holidays, our message to employers is to ensure you have your contingency plans up to date and in place for a possible return not only to lockdown, but also local school closures. The latter is of course particularly important if a sizeable proportion of your workforce have young children.
Even if schools do not close, the ‘bubble’ system which most schools have put in place to minimise exposure between children and teachers, means that all children within a specific bubble may be sent home even if they are not unwell themselves. We have already seen multiple cases across the country of whole classes and even year groups having to self-isolate. This in turn puts pressure on the parents who may need to home school, creates stress and pulls them away from their work. With the likelihood of this continuing for at least six months, are you prepared as an employer to support your staff and do you have clear guidelines in place so employees know what is expected of them? For more detailed guidance on supporting your staff working remotely, click here.
The further consideration, as we approach half term, is that of travel. I touched upon how best employers should convey expectations to staff regarding foreign travel in my last blog. Those same principles are transferrable when it comes to UK travel which is where most people are likely to take a break now.
The added dimension, however, is that of the three ‘tiers’. The government is discouraging travel to or from high risk areas except when absolutely essential. As an employer, we recommend you communicate with your employees that they are expected to both familiarise themselves and comply with appropriate government guidance. It’s important these expectations are clearly stated and we are helping clients in all sectors develop a Covid policy that sets out the appropriate guidelines.
If you would like to talk about the implications of the recent government announcement or how we can help your business be Covid secure, please get in touch.