What to think about if you’re an employee returning to work

Now that more businesses are planning to re-open, employees are starting to think about heading back to work.

For some, it’s an easy decision – as long as the workplace is safe and well-managed, it might be a relief to get out of the house and back into a routine.

For others, however, this is a stressful time, and it’s important that as well as looking after your finances and organising your household around a return to work, you also look after your own wellbeing. So ask yourself these simple questions:

How will I get to work?

If you normally travel to work by public transport, are you currently happy to travel that way? Have you checked that the routes you use are running as usual? Might you have to leave home earlier or later than usual in order to get to work safely? Are there any alternatives available to you, such as walking part or all of the way, cycling, or driving? If you can’t get to work any other way and you’re worried about using public transport, can you talk to your employer?

Can I still work from home?

At the moment, the Government’s advice is to work from home if you can. So if your job function can be carried out fully at home, you should remain working from home unless your employer specifically asks you to return. In that circumstance, you are entitled to ask to remain working from home, particularly if you are concerned about the health implications of going back.

How will I manage caring responsibilities?

Lots of employees are also caring for children or vulnerable people during this period. At the moment, only a select number of children have returned to school, and vulnerable people are still being asked to be cautious about going out. So you may be worried about a conflict between what your employer expects you to do and what you are able or comfortable to do. If this is the case, speak to your employer as soon as possible. Explain your situation and see if you can work together to come to a solution that works for everyone.

What if I’m just scared about returning to work?

This period of virus crisis and lockdown has had a significant effect on the way people view their personal safety. Some are not yet ready to spend lots of time with other people, or venture too far away from home. Again, if you are worried about getting back to work and the effect it might have on you and your family, talk to your employer to see if anything can be arranged to help.

Employers are required to help you return to work confidently and safely, and most are making incredible efforts to change working environments and processes so that everyone feels safe as and when they return to work. It’s always best to talk to your employer in advance so that they are aware of any potential issues, and to keep a note of when you spoke and what was said so that you have clear information to refer to should you need to.

Why not consider a phased return to work? This will help you to make the transition from being at home – whether furloughed or working remotely – back into your usual environment. We are working with a number of clients now who are introducing phased returns to support their employees and this is a great way to manage a safe return to work.

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