HR 11 January 2021

What HR lessons did businesses learn in 2020?

Laura Kearsley from Nelsons Law

Laura Kearsley - Partner and Head of Employment at Nelsons
“Remote working will remain a significant feature – even after the pandemic.”

Name: Laura Kearsley

Job title: Partner and Head of Employment at Nelsons Law

Bio: Laura has a strong reputation in all aspects of employment law and has particular experience of developing HR support services for businesses. She has advised on employment law matters since qualifying as a solicitor in 2005.

How did businesses navigate the furlough fiasco?

The furlough scheme was well received by employers in principle, but some did find it difficult to navigate the details and administrative requirements in terms of applying for the scheme and getting employees to agree in writing to be furloughed. In the early days, there was frustration with perceived shifting of goalposts when the requirements changed.

During this time, some employees were dismissed who could have been furloughed if the scheme had been announced sooner. And some employees were told they were eligible for furlough and it later transpired they were not.

“Some employers did not want to furlough staff as they still had work for them to do or their industry was operating. They also had to navigate resistance from employees who would have preferred to be furloughed.”

What should business be doing to ensure they continue to work within legal HR structures when their workforce remains remote?

Many businesses who were previously reluctant have had to embrace remote working. Some employers will have seen advantages of this including reduced overheads and increased productivity and some employees will have, at least, enjoyed a better work/life balance through remote working.

This means that for many businesses, remote working will remain a significant feature – even after the pandemic. These employers need to invest in their systems to make sure they are secure and robust enough. Alongside this, they need to make sure they have the right HR policy framework to cover issues such as supervision, information and data security, and health and safety.

They will also need a framework for communicating with staff working remotely, remote line management, and for checking the mental health and wellbeing of staff, which can be more difficult when done remotely.

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