Working safely as Covid restrictions are lifted

Staffing your business this summer

Summer staffing can be a conundrum and this summer brings even more obstacles than usual. The HR Dept have shared the following advice with AIM members to help you manage staff absences.

Alongside the usual staff absences caused by summer holidays, employers are navigating pandemic and Brexit related shortages.

The vaccine rollout and reopening of businesses has seen many people return to work and their usual activities. However, warnings that COVID-19 is still in circulation mean that there is still a risk of disruption.

Meanwhile, businesses gearing up for a busy period, some hoping to profit from fewer Brits travelling abroad, have reported difficulties in filling vacancies. Whether down to receiving too many CVs from inexperienced applicants, or none at all due to economic uncertainty, recruitment is taking up increasing amounts of time and energy.

After a year and a half of pandemic related issues, customers are beginning to express fatigue with COVID excuses for longer wait times, late deliveries and reduced services. Businesses hoping for a successful post-lockdown summer season will need to make staffing with adequate cover a top priority.

There is always a chance that someone may go off sick when someone else is on holiday, but this is an even higher eventuality now with summer being prime time for vacations, even staycations, and sick leave involving self-isolation or quarantine.

A helpful way to stay on top of absences is through absence management software, like The HR Dept toolkit. Your team can see availability for holiday before sending through a request, whilst you can manage staffing levels to make sure that you have adequate cover.

If need be, you can determine when employees take their holiday, providing you give them the right amount of notice – double the length of the holiday. Keep in mind that paid leave is for maintaining good health and well-being, and so an even distribution of holiday throughout the year is best.

This also applies to furloughed employees. Flexible furlough is still available this summer and can be helpful for keeping your business staffed during the busiest times of the week.

Having enough people to staff your business is vital, but remember, good people management is more than just a numbers game. If you’re approaching a busy time and need your team on top form, talk to them to make sure that they have what they need in order to excel. A supportive and approachable leadership team is an important component for successful absence management.

If you need specialist advice, The HR Dept offer all AIM members a free 15 minute telephone consultation. Find out more and make an appointment here>>

Working Safely during COVID-19: further along the road map

As the United Kingdom  proceed with their roadmaps out of lockdown. The Government have released guidance for businesses to keep people safe. Here, The H&S Dept summarise what the key changes mean for AIM members, particularly those in England.

Key points from the latest government publications are available for six sectors:

This new guidance published on 14 July has replaced the current guidance (from Monday 19 July).

The key changes in England

From Monday 19 July the government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can, so employers can start to plan a return to workplaces. During this period of high prevalence, the government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer.

New guidance on risk assessment

As “rules” have now been largely replaced by “guidance” the emphasis on risk assessment has now changed. The three areas that are focussed on now relate to the risk of the virus spreading through aerosols, droplets and through contaminated surfaces. Businesses are advised to consider the following when assessing the risk to their staff and visitors:

  • Providing adequate ventilation
  • Identifying any poorly ventilated spaces*
  • Encouraging use of outside space where practical
  • Putting in place measures to reduce contact between people
  • Encouraging the use of face coverings by workers or customers in enclosed and crowded spaces, although in Scotland this remains mandatory.
  • Advising customers and workers to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser frequently
  • Maintaining regular cleaning of surfaces

*It is being suggested that CO2 monitors could be used to identify poorly ventilated areas.

Communication with your workers

Having completed the risk assessment in consultation with the workforce this should be shared. It is expected that all employers with over 50 workers should publish the results on their website. All businesses should show their workers and visitors they have properly assessed their risk and taken appropriate steps to mitigate this.

If you need any support or assistance completing your risk assessments, please get in touch with The HR Dept. Click here to find out more about the free 15 minute consultation available to AIM members>>