Freedom Day – more headaches for HR managers?

Joan Pettingill Joan Pettingill 20 July 2021

Freedom Day brought even more considerations for a busy HR manager to contend with.

The lifting of restrictions yesterday meant the end of nearly all remaining COVID-19 restrictions in England including social distancing and mandatory masks.

All businesses can reopen for the first time since March 2020, the limits on the numbers meeting indoors and outdoors have now been scrapped and the instruction to work from home has been waived.

Joan Pettingill, Director - Head of Employment Law & HR Services at Wake Smith Solicitors, said: “Many of the previous measures have been made voluntary by the Government, so much of the responsibility has been shifted onto individuals and employers.

“Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers must ensure, as much as reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all their employees at work. However, now employees, must take reasonable care for their health and safety and that of anyone who may be affected by their acts while at work.

“The steps taken by businesses will really depend on how they operate, the risks to employees and staff and commercial considerations.”

Employers should:

  • Perform a fresh risk assessment as per the new rules
  • Take reasonable steps to protect the health and safety of those entering the workplace - visitors and customers/clients
  • Review employees’ return to the workplace full-time, consider remote working or flexible working
  • Communicate new policies and procedures with employees and customers/clients
  • Monitor risks within the business eg infection rates
  • Offer support to staff working from home
  • Support staff returning from home working or furlough with additional training if needed

Joan added: “Businesses should focus on these points to ensure they meet their legal obligations. This can be another minefield for anyone in management and who is unfamiliar with employment law. For anyone in doubt our latest HR Lunch Club this week can discuss concerns and offer advice.”

The next free monthly HR Lunch Club takes place on Thursday July 22 from 12:30-1:30pm on Zoom and is open to all HR professionals and anyone with significant responsibility for people management.

Places are limited to allow a chance for friendly discussion of the group’s hot topics of the day. For further information or to book your place please contact Bridie Mulgrew at [email protected]

Click here to subscribe to our WorkSense database to receive all HR & Employment Law updates and event invitations, including HR Lunch Clubs, Peer Group sessions and management training.

For further advice on any employment law and HR matters contact Joan Pettingill at Wake Smith Solicitors on 0114 266 6660. 

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