Joanne Frew, National Head of Employment at global legal services business DWF, provides commentary on the Prime Minister’s announcement in the reduction of the 2-metre distance rule and what this means for employers.
“The Recruitment & Employment Confederation has reported that business confidence in the UK has improved 17 percentage points between early May and June. With the government firmly committed to reopening the economy and lockdown measures gradually easing, it is encouraging to see the subsequent impact on business confidence. Government guidance was published on 11 May 2020 to help Britain get back to work safely. Since then the government has steadily reopened more sectors, allowing businesses to return to the “new normal”.
“With the Chancellor’s announcement on 29 May 2020 that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“CJRS”) will operate on a flexible basis from 1 July 2020 until 31 October 2020, businesses were given the additional support needed to take a considered approach to return to work, boosting confidence and facilitating an economic turn. With the Recruitment & Employment Confederation further reporting that hiring intentions have improved in June, and the latest JobsOutlook conducted between 2-16 June finding that more employers are planning to expand their workforce than reduce it in the next three months, it would appear that the CJRS is giving the necessary reassurance.
“As employers have been working diligently to ensure the workplace is “COVID-secure”, the Prime Minister has announced a reduction in the 2-metre distance rule, easing the burden on many businesses. With non-essential retailers already permitted to reopen, the hospitality sector has received the much anticipated green light that businesses can reopen from 4 July. A key message for employers is to communicate with their workforce. Employees need to be assured that their health and safety is a priority and should be informed of the measures taken to keep the workforce safe. The COVID journey so far has taken many turns and undoubtedly will continue to do so. Having a flexible and engaged workforce will help businesses to stay 1-metre ahead.”