Last reviewed 19 May 2020

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) says businesses should pass three tests before bringing their people back to work, in order to ensure employees feel safe in the workplace.

The UK professional body for human resources and staff development says that businesses will need to be able to answer “yes” to the following three questions before bringing their workforce back in the coronavirus pandemic.

  1. Is it essential? If people can continue to work from home, they must continue to do that for the foreseeable future. If they cannot work from home, is their work deemed essential?

  2. Is it safe? Employers have a duty of care to identify and manage risks to ensure that the workplace is sufficiently safe to return to. This will involve social distancing measures, potentially reconfiguring workspaces and common areas, possible changes to working hours to reduce risk of exposure, and increased workplace cleaning and sanitation measures.

  3. Is it mutually agreed? Research by the CIPD found that 4 in 10 people are anxious about returning to work and there are concerns people could be forced back. The CIPD says it’s vital that there is a clear dialogue between employers and their people so concerns, such as commuting by public transport, can be raised and individual’s needs and worries taken into account.

CIPD Chief Executive Peter Cheese says, “The return to work is a massive undertaking for employers and is likely to prove much harder than the original lockdown as there are so many variables. As the ongoing health threat continues, no employer should be rushing to get their people back to work until they can meet three conditions:

  • is it essential

  • is it safe

  • is it mutually agreed with the workforce?

Even with those measures in place the return to work must still be gradual so that social distancing can be maintained.”