Returning back to work from COVID-19 isolation

06 May 2020


In March 2020 the Government introduced the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) which allowed employers to furlough employees.  The aim of the CJRS is to avoid mass job losses and help prevent the spread of COVID19. Much of the public were uncertain of what this meant and how it would apply to businesses.

We are now well in the midst of furlough and being on lockdown has almost become the norm in our lives. However recent Government briefings have suggested the possibility of easing the lockdown restrictions and to start bringing communities and businesses back to some normality but with caution.

The effect of COVID19 has brought many businesses to a grinding halt; with the exception of key workers; many of the workforce are forced to stay at home for their own safety.  As the Government now enters into talks of lifting the lockdown restrictions, businesses are now having to look at ways to bring back staff on a staggered approach.

Return to work 

Communicating with your staff is key. Employers must write to inform furloughed staff of a date of when they will be required to return back to work.  This may not be a smooth process as many will still be in fear of COVID-19.  It is useful to have written guidance and conduct an induction in the workplace to inform employees of all the appropriate health and safety measures that have been implemented to support the return back to work process. Businesses may need to consider new ways of working by introducing a staged return or to encourage more home working where they can.  Remote meetings via electronic tools such as Zoom or Teams will be encouraged to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

There will, undoubtedly, be some uncertainty and hesitancy from staff; people managers must listen to staff concerns and reassure them that health and safety measures have been put into place. Companies must do all they can do protect the staff and the business.  Government guidelines which include social distancing, use of face masks, 2 meters distancing, hand sanitizers/gloves and temperature checks and so on must continue to be adhered to. 

Some staff may not want to or be able to return to work during the COVID-19 period.  They may be worried about being exposed to the virus or are living with a vulnerable person who is shielding.  In these circumstances you should explore other options available; for example home working, unpaid leave, take holidays or to continue to furlough until the end of June (within the Government guidelines). Should the employee continue to refuse to return back to work, the employer may need to investigate the situation further which may lead to disciplinary action.   

The current crisis affects all companies and industries in different ways.  Companies must ensure they comply with legislation, the guidelines and meet the needs of their staff and the business.  This is not an easy task and can lead to complications.  At Quest we can offer further advice and guidance in all these areas.  Please contact the advice line for further advice and guidance on 01455852028.

Meet the Quest Experts

Hema Mistry

Head of Operations

With over 20 years experience in HR, Hema draws her expert specialist knowledge from a broad range of industries, including employment advisory and consultancy services, retail, manufacturing and leisure. Being MCIPD qualified enables her to quickly understand how organisations operate, how to interact with their business leaders and to deliver effective commercial and practical solutions.

Andy Hooke

Health, Safety & Training Business Partner

Andy is NEBOSH trained and a technical member of the Institution of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH). Andy is often found studying the latest updates to legislation to keep his knowledge up to date and provide the best advice. With a passion for health and safety and experience in a range of environments from large corporates to small business, Andy is well placed to support you in all your health and safety needs.

Jill Colston

HR and Training Business Partner

Jill has over 14 years’ experience in HR & Training. Having started a career as a police officer; she changed careers to HR & Training dealing with Equality & Diversity in the workplace. Jill is passionate about Diversity, Inclusion and HR and has supported companies in managing their HR and training needs. She has a wealth of expertise across HR, dealing with challenging casework, company restructure projects, mediation, training, organisational development systems; equality and diversity.

Arti Patel

HR Business Partner

Arti has a strong background in HR and is a fully qualified CIPD member. She has worked with challenging casework and has a good understanding of how to deal with workplace matters as they arise.

Jatinder Tara

Advice Line Team Leader

Jatinder is qualified non-practising Solicitor, he has over 22 years advisory experience in Employment law, HR matters and Employment Tribunal litigation. He manages the legal and HR advice line team ensuring the delivery of advice is effective verbally and in correspondence. He has experience in training and coaching work colleagues in all aspects of legal and employment matters. With his sound understanding of issues arising with in the workplace environment, Jatinder aims to deliver clear and concise client focussed advice.

Anoop Sodhi

HR Employment Relations Advisor

Anoop is an experienced HR Advisor and is part of the Telephone Advice Line Team. Anoop has worked in both the public and private sector, providing Employment Law advice ranging from grievances, disciplinaries, performance management, attendance management and mediation. Anoop is a trained mediator and provides down to earth, pragmatic, commercial advice. Outside of work, Anoop actively participates as a CIPD Board Member of East Midlands.

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