Are your HR policies protecting your people in a pandemic?

Health-Check your HR policies

Are your HR policies protecting your people in a pandemic?

We look at why it’s necessary to carry out regular checks on your HR policies and processes.

In June 2020, HR Manager Bal Dhesi highlighted some key questions employers should consider before making decisions surrounding their staff during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our lives continue to be unsettled by the changing landscape of the coronavirus. Bal revisits these questions in light of our current position and reflects on what employers should be looking at in their HR policies and practices.

Have you had to restructure or reduce your work? How has this impacted on the internal processes you include in the employee handbook? Does it need to be updated?

Particular roles may no longer exist or, positions may have been re-defined, which could equal new working practises within your business.

But are these changes reflected in your policies?

For example, who are the go-to people for certain things?

Do you still have a (mental) first aider or, do you need to consider outsourcing HR services? Have you had to change your travel arrangements policy or, have you introduced flexible-working practices?

You need to ensure your policies reflect how you operate your business now.

Since March, have you had to utilise the furlough scheme for your employees? Are the correct staff agreements in place?

Due to the third national lockdown in January 2021, the furlough scheme is currently in place until the end of April 2021. Many employers have placed their staff onto the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Therefore, you may now want to review and check that you have the correct agreement letters in place.

Have you carried out home-working risk assessments with your staff? Have you documented these and, what reasonable steps did you take to address any issues?

There is a range of resources available online that explains the best practices for protecting your workers at home. Be aware that you will need to keep up to date records of the home-working assessment for each employee and the follow-up action points and, review each time a team member moves home. Please consider other relevant policies such as expenses (relating to equipment), GDPR and IT equipment best practice.

Do your HR policies and procedures reflect the current COVID-19 environment?

Perhaps you need to consider whether you need to have interim policies in place. Speak with an HR professional to ensure that you are meeting your statutory obligations.

Have you seen a surge in flexible working requests? What approach have you taken when dealing with flexible working practices?

You must have a correct process in place to maintain consistency when dealing with individual requests. Every business is different, so get in touch if you have any questions on best practices for implementing flexible working.

But, as a side note, it’s worthwhile exploring other options such as the furlough scheme, or flex-furlough.

With restrictions on travel, how have you managed the barrage of requests to change/cancel pre-booked annual leave requests?

We took a look at this particular matter previously, which you can read in more detail here.

Remind staff of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) guidance on travel. Also, advise your team not to book any holiday until annual leave plans are approved.

If you’re using an online HR system, ask your staff to note down the location of their annual leave (and let them know why you are asking for this information).  These simple steps may help to manage holiday changes/requests.

What systems are in place to manage your staff’s annual leave? How are you encouraging them to take their holiday entitlement and not build up their allowance?

If you have an HR system, you could set up reminders or generate regular reports to monitor your team’s annual leave. Take a look to see if you can send reminders from within the system or, email or chat with your team and encourage them to take their annual leave.  Remind them of the value of taking the time to be “offline”.

With these thoughts in mind, do you need to examine your existing practices? We offer a free HR health check for your company, which will pick out any pain points for your business and suggestions to what you can do to make improvements.

With many factors to consider, and government measures changing, your business must stay healthy so you can look after your people compliantly and with compassion.

To arrange your free HR health check, please pop your details here and, Bal will be in touch.

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Bal Dhesi
HR Manager at Wilder Coe
Bal recognises that effective people management is key to any successful organisation. With a number of years’ experience gained in the field of HR, Bal provides a bespoke and tailored service to her clients whilst delivering practical yet simple people orientated solutions.