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Michael Jenkins considers the challenges facing employers as we return to the office.

Government advice to “work from home where possible” officially comes to an end this week (w/c 19th July) and for many, the chance to return to a semblance of normality after a difficult, and often isolating eighteen months will be gladly welcomed. However, employers must not forget that this will be a time of immense anxiety for many of their employees and they may meet resistance, stress and struggles as they try and regenerate office life.

In an exclusive blog written for Insurance Post magazine, our Head of Legal Advice, Michael Jenkins explores the challenges of a return to the office.

“We are now getting calls from employers who have employees who refuse to return to the office whether through ill health, or personal choice, and we’d always advise our customers to check their contract first.”

An employers’ first port of call when considering a return to the office is the contract. Most contracts state a usual place of work, and this will have been agreed with the employee on commencement of their employment.

In normal circumstances any material change to a contract (such as place of work) will be drafted and signed, but uncertainty of events during the past year have made this impractical.

Employers will have to take into account a huge number of factors when deciding on their approach to post-pandemic working, including:

  • Whether it is economically and financially viable
  • Whether employees are more productive in the office or home
  • What their competitors and peers are doing
  • Whether workers have the equipment they need to continue working from home or will they need to upgrade equipment and furniture if the change becomes permanent
  • What the business needs to do to get the best out of its employees
  • The health, wellbeing and safety implications

Ultimately whatever approach is taken by the business must be supported by clear communication and guidance, it is going to be a difficult time for many and employees need to work hard to ensure their teams feel supported and confident in a return to the office.

Read Michael’s article in full here (subscription required).

Michael Jenkins, Head of Legal Advice, Arc Legal Assistance

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