I think this is the hot question this week in many conference or board rooms.
Now that the legal regulations have been removed in England, the responsibility of what to do shifts back to the individual and to their employer, so what’s next?
Whilst we are now learning to live with Covid, it is still a highly infectious disease, and the guidance is currently that people should still self-isolate if they test positive. It’s just that they won’t be fined if they don’t follow that advice.
From 1st April 2022, people are advised to use their own sense of personal responsibility. Hmm. Is anyone else seeing disaster written all over that situation?!
From an employer’s point of view a decision has to be made and this is where the HR headache may start – as a business you have to do the right thing and whilst it may seem easier to stick your head in the sand, decisions and plans made now will hopefully be the basis of your mid and long-term living and working with Covid plans.
Government advice is for people to still self-isolate so as an employer you need to follow that. Your company message needs to be that it’s ok and employees will not be penalised for self-isolating. After 2 long years of businesses being badly affected by Covid it is understandable that employers would want their company to go back to normal, whatever that is now. But realistically that isn’t going to happen, at least not yet so companies have to live with it too.
The aim is to control the number of workplace infection and keep it a slow as possible without the dramatic surges and spikes we have seen so regularly. This might mean encouraging vaccinations, supporting staff to work flexibly, promoting regular workplace testing and the practical steps such as improving ventilation and encouraging good hygiene.
What we don’t want to happen is that people especially with low incomes feel pressure to keep going to work while ill, as a support payment is also being removed. The TUC are therefore pushing for SSP to still be available from Day 1 for Covid cases which would help keep Covid cases low and hopefully allow business to keep going.
Contract tracing is also coming to an end so those who are fully vaccinated no longer have to test for 7 days and with some luck, we will no longer face the torture that has befallen so many businesses with staff being pinged over and over again as a close contract affecting staffing levels and forcing some businesses to temporarily close or reduce service.
One thing is for sure, Covid in some form is here to stay so we need to move on from the emergency plans put in place to deal with the pandemic. Plans for businesses to live with Covid need to be flexible and allow businesses to continue to function and grow again rather than stand still as many businesses have had to do over the last 2 year.