What will ‘living with Covid’ mean for HR

By Caroline Gammon | 21st February 2022 | 3 min read

Despite the huge number of Covid infections this winter, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has just announced that all Covid restrictions are ending this Thursday.

“The country is ready to move to a new stage of its movement out of coronavirus restrictions,” stated Mr Johnson.

He explained that we’ve built up strong protections against this virus over the past two years through the vaccine rollouts, tests, new treatments and the best scientific understanding of what the virus can do.

With the restrictions coming to an end almost a month ahead of the original March deadline, numerous questions have been raised regarding the implications on businesses and their HR processes.

With Covid restrictions ending, what should HR do?

What will your business do if an employee tests positive for Covid?

The change to Covid restrictions means that businesses will need to urgently review and implement updated policies significantly earlier than initially thought.

These revised HR policies will need to accommodate the end of self-isolation and keep employees updated on the correct procedures moving forward.

Perhaps you’ll treat Covid like the common cold, allowing employees to determine whether they’re well enough to work, or you may request positive employees to work from home if possible.

How should you determine your new HR policies?

CIPD’s Head of Public Policy, Ben Willmott, said, “some workers may still be anxious about the risk of Covid, and it will be down to businesses and line managers to consult with people and understand their individual concerns and agree what adjustments can be made where appropriate.”

When deciding your new policies, I highly recommend that you take Mr Willmott’s advice and work with your employees to gauge people’s thoughts and address their concerns.

Another consideration you’ll need to make when changing your new HR policies is what sector you operate in.

Those in the retail and hospitality sectors require staff to be on the physical premises, so they’ll need to determine:

  • Do staff feel comfortable having positive employees in the workplace?
  • Could customer opinion be tarnished if they discover Covid-positive employees are working?  
  • Will you enforce face masks in the workplace?

What challenges could HR face?

To get new and updated policies in your business, you’ll require sign-off from the board or potentially a Covid-19 committee if you have one. 

As a result, time pressure may become an issue due to the now shorter deadline.

How can HR tackle these challenges?

What’s clear from the latest news is that businesses urgently need to have ‘frank’ conversations with their workforce, fast-tracking their decisions regarding policies.

I suggest you start by drafting your policy changes so that once the restrictions end, you’ll be ready to complete a final review for a quick sign-off. 

How can IRIS HR Software support?

The employee experience is evolving – our HR solutions offer high levels of customisation to match this.

If your company has a particular process, workflow or question form for employees to urgently complete, it can all be easily created within the software, giving your HR policies the flexibility to adapt to an ever-changing culture and fast-track decisions. 

Employee survey tools are also available directly within the HR software, enabling you to easily gather opinions to inform and guide decisions. 

What’s more, for a limited time, you can receive up to 50% off IRIS software – click here to find out more.