Coronavirus shifting sands see unprecedented change in the workplace
25th February 2021
Whilst coronavirus continues to have a damaging effect on job losses, with record numbers of redundancies in the three months to December 2020, the pandemic has also resulted in several other changes.
With unemployment levels now reaching 5.1%, it has been a period like no other, altering the landscape of Britain’s employment market. In the future, there are likely to be considerable changes to the way people work. Flexible working, working from home and even the different types of work available may change. Standard and existing contracts of employment will undoubtedly need amending to reflect the new landscape.
Kerry Hudson, head of the employment department at solicitors Brindley Twist, Tafft & James (BTTJ) said it was important employers had a clear vision of how to accommodate the effects. They should aim to sustain and protect their business, or accept a potential stark reality it sadly cannot be sustained, and take the required steps. Kerry said it was also imperative employees understood their rights in both situations.
“We have never been so busy giving advice to employers and employees and the addition of BTTJ’s new offices in Southam, Warwick and Balsall Common have added to this,” said Kerry. “It is an unprecedented period, but it is vital people are clear on the decisions being made and their impact.”
Kerry attributes the widespread job losses, which continue to grow despite the government extending the furlough scheme until the end of April, to a range of factors.
“Certain types of work are diminishing, businesses are closing down, or some are moving sites or undergoing a restructure to adjust to the realities of significant swatches of their workforce working from home,” she said.
Kerry said employees also faced a variety of challenges.
“Employees are worried about what happens if they become ill with COVID, or if their child is ill, and what they may be entitled to in terms of benefits such as sick pay,” she said.
“Plus a lot are having to contend with a deeply altered working arrangement, with some employers encouraging staff to work from home, this can present associated technological and wellbeing issues.
“While some employees welcome this new arrangement others are struggling.
“Another issue is roles in a workplace are changing to accommodate the evolving needs of a business.”
Kerry said the continued option to be furloughed offered reassurance for some employees in the way of short-term job security and it was hoped the end of the lockdown in June would see their jobs return to normal. But for others the landscape may have changed permanently.