Looking after employees post-pandemic

As businesses return to a post-pandemic ‘new normal’, there have been clear challenges in sectors hit hardest by the pandemic to attract and recruit workers.

But what has been given less coverage and consideration, is what support is offered to workers that remained employed during the pandemic – often working longer hours, burdened with more responsibility to cover staff shortages, and not taking annual leave.

When it comes to working longer hours, employers should be mindful of the rules set out in the Working Time Regulations 1998 (WTR 1998).

Each worker's average working time (including overtime) should not exceed 48 hours per week. However, many of the rights granted by the WTR 1998 can be waived.

Most workers in the UK are also legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday a year. During the pandemic, the government introduced a new law allowing employees to carry over up to four weeks' statutory paid annual leave into their next two ‘holiday leave’ years.

Employers should do everything reasonably possible to ensure workers take as much leave as feasible in the relevant year. Workers need a break to relax and unwind, it is beneficial to both the employees and the employer.

UK health and safety legislation requires employers to be aware of and protect the health, safety and wellbeing of workers. As part of the risk assessment to ensure a workplace is ‘Covid-secure’, this should include ‘psychosocial’ risks.

Other ways to help workers is to introduce support mechanisms to create a culture where workers feel equipped to take on the challenges that Covid-19 has created.

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