Employment law in a pandemic workplace

Covid-19 has been the ultimate workplace disruptor. Business priorities continue to change at a rapid pace, with ‘business as usual’ superseded by the need to respond urgently to a range of issues, a lot of these employment law related.

In practice I have seen a wide variety of HR and employment matters facing businesses, with common themes throughout 2021, and expect many to continue as we roll into 2022.

Along with actions to consider for the new year, these include:

Workplace disputes – the continued disruption for some has resulted in increased grievances, disciplinaries and tribunal claims. If your business is concerned about a situation with an employee, take early advice so this can be managed lawfully.

Restructuring – analyse your existing staffing structure. Promote and reward key personnel, succession plan, merge roles and departments, recruit, and exit employees that hold the company back and are not going to benefit its future.

Employee exits – evaluate your staff and act, whether this is termination of employment for poor performance, redundancy, misconduct or ill-health; or expedited by way of protected conversations and settlement agreements.

Recruitment – new skill sets can bring great benefits to your company. Don’t forget to issue contracts of employment and focus on probationary/notice periods, or even consider fixed-term arrangements.

Contracts of employment – Review contracts of employment and director service agreements. Update or issue new ones that you are confident will protect your business.

Variation of terms of employment – the continued hybrid working model requires a cautious approach for employers.

It’s important to remember that when varying any fundamental terms of an employment contract, you are obliged to consult the employee and obtain their consent.

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