Many businesses have been in survival mode during lockdown. It’s understandable that during this stressful and intense phase, some HR fundamentals may have been overlooked.

As businesses begin to return to the workplace, or consider moving to longer-term options for their team structures and working arrangements, it’s vital that these fundamentals are now addressed. At Reality HR we call this the RESET phase – a time to stop, take stock and make sure that strong foundations are in place to give your organisation the best conditions to thrive in the future.

Our free RESET downloadable includes 10 steps that we’ve identified to take you through this process. Among the most important are the legislative basics – vital to ensure that your organisation is compliant and resilient against possible legal challenges.

Here are some that you should consider:

Risk Assessments

Comprehensive risk assessments are a must at any time – but especially ahead of a return to the workplace after lockdown. They are a requirement to help protect your employees but will also strengthen your business’s legal position if an accident or incident did occur.

Before any return to the workplace, you will need to carry out a workplace risk assessment to ensure you are taking appropriate safety measures in line with government advice. These will vary from business to business – and you may need to take advice to ensure that your intended measures are adequate.

In the rush around lockdown, you may not have taken the correct steps to assess the safety of those working from home. If the plan is to continue asking staff to work from home some or all of the time, now is the time to get those steps in place. You should ensure that anyone using computers, laptops, tablets or any type of screen for their work completes a DSE (Display Screen Equipment) Assessment. For home or remote workers, an additional Working from Home H&S Audit) should be carried out to check they have a safe place in which to work.

Company Policies

A lot may have changed over the last few months. Staff may have been on furlough, you might need them to change shift patterns to minimise the number of people in a building at the same time, and roles may have altered.

Now is the time to make sure that any changes in working practices have been communicated clearly and introduced in line with the correct legislation. Policies for Holidays, Pay procedure, Disciplinary and Redundancy may need updating at this time.

Staff may now make formal requests for flexible or homeworking. You should have a clear policy outlining the basis on which decisions to grant or refuse these requests are made. You must be scrupulous in applying this policy fairly across the board, and in having justifiable reasons for refusing requests.

Staff contracts

Comprehensive contracts are essential – not just for legal compliance but also to ensure employer and employee alike understand what is required of them  If working arrangements have changed, or are likely to, it’s important to make sure your staff contracts are up to date. This may include the addition of a Homeworking agreement if an employee is designated a homeworker. Poorly-drafted employment contracts are a huge risk to a business, storing up potential problems for the future – particularly if a disciplinary issue or grievance arises.

Getting the HR fundamentals right now will set the conditions for your people, and your organisation, to prosper in the future. A list of HR essentials and checklist of back to work considerations in the RESET phase can be found in our 10-point guide. Find this and other resources to get your business in a stronger position at www.realityhr.co.uk/reset.