Supporting your policyholders: Getting SME's back to work

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put a lot of pressure on small businesses, with many having to adjust to the impact on their business through re-valuating how they do business, and taking advantage of the Job Retention Scheme to furlough their staff.

The recent announcements by the Prime Minister (10th May) have seen many UK businesses trying to get back to a sense of normality and have their staff return to work.  However a lot of those  businesses are not 100% clear on what the guidance meant, and how to safely enable their staff to return to work.

Your policyholders may be turning to you for advice on what they should and should not do at this time. It is important they get it right, as making mistakes could lead to employees bringing a claim against them in the future – something to be avoided if possible! Do you know how to advise them?

Business HR Solutions have produced a very useful guide for SME’s with practical advice on how to navigate the process of facilitating employees returning to work, as well as providing guidance as to what to consider during this process. You may even find it useful for your own business. Some Hiscox policyholders have access to their full range of services at a discounted rate, but we have negotiated to make this guide available to all our policyholders and brokers free-of-charge.

Resource Requirements

Business should be thinking about their current and future resource requirements, and to have a plan as to how they manage this. Some areas that your clients should be thinking about include:

  • Does your operating model remain the same or do you need to make changes to it?
  • What roles do you need in the structure moving forward? Has the company diversified and therefore needs to consider up-skilling or recruiting staff with different skills?
  • Are any roles currently furloughed, in which case which roles do you need to bring back?
  • When do you need the roles back at work?
  • Are you able to utilise the furlough scheme to enable you to operate for longer? Could the extra financial support and time help you to keep operating that bit longer? This would ultimately mean either delaying redundancies, or perhaps even avoiding them.
  • Can you support all your employees coming back? For example, is there enough work and can you afford to pay all employees?

Business HR Solutions’ Guide outlines answers to these questions including:

  • Utilising the Job Retention Scheme (furloughing of staff)
  • Laying off staff
  • Introducing Short Time Working
  • Making redundancies

Each option requires a degree of planning, as well as ensuring that correct procedures are followed to reduce the risk for your  client.

Your clients may also be looking at starting to ‘unfurlough’ staff and bring them back to work.  This also requires planning to  ensure that this is handled correctly and doesn’t present your client with any claims of unfair treatment, or discrimination.

Return to work

Whether employees are ‘unfurloughed’ or can now come to work (instead of working from home) there will also need to be careful consideration as to how this is managed.

A thorough risk assessment of the working environment will be required.

This risk assessment should include how to maintain the two metre social distancing rules, as well as other aspects such as the provision of hand sanitisers.

Having conducted a risk assessment may put the employees’ mind at ease about their return to work, but inevitably there are still likely to be some employees who do not want to return to work, as they don’t feel safe. A business is going to have to consider each employee’s circumstances as it could be that they still have children who have not returned to  nursery or school, or they are living with someone who needs to continue to be shielded.

Policyholder support

Hiscox policyholders can choose to have access to Business HR Solutions services at a discounted rate. Business HR Solutions helps organisations stay on top of human resources and health and safety legislation.

HR Knowledge Base
Existing Business HR Solutions subscribers can access advice and guidance from the HR Knowledge Base.

They will need to have their policy number to hand when first registering.

Advice Line
Existing Business HR Solutions subscribers are also entitled to one free call, which they might wish to use to discuss their options in relation to resource planning and having their employees return to work.

Webinar Support
Business HR Solutions have been running webinars throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to support policy holders, by providing advice and guidance. These have all been recorded and can be found in their webinar library (external link).

Business HR Solutions

If you have clients who would benefit from access to Business HR Solutions, you can  add this service to their policy, find out more here