How Employers can Prepare for Employees’ Return to Work

Learn how employers can make a return to the office, after a long period of work from home, easier for employees.

As lockdown ease around the world and businesses start to operate as normal, employers ought to be discretionary. Many employees are experiencing mental breakdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of the workforce is afraid to go to work amid the pandemic and are worried about their health and risk of getting the infection. In the wake of this situation, employees want to know their rights to return to work and whether they have the right to work on-site as their company might require.

Here are some tips from HR leadership on how to manage the whole safe return to work protocol  

Communicate clearly

Return-to-work will soon be implemented across many industries. This requires HR leaders and business leaders to stay in contact with their workforce. An effective approach to handle this situation is to create a day-to-day preventive protocol and circulate it to employees. Further, businesses need to stay on top of positive cases in the workplace, points out Stephen Michell, Managing Partner, Fisher Phillips, Columbia. 

Business leaders should prepare themselves before employees return to work. Employees must understand how their employers will protect them. As employers, you need to ensure that employees know you have a plan and you will execute as per the plan as time continues. This will help employers allay anxieties and mentally prepare employees to return to work. 

Continue work from home wherever possible

Global enterprises like Adobe, Twitter, Facebook, and many others have announced work from home for their employees for the rest of 2020. Small- and medium- companies that have operated successfully during the lockdown have extended work from home until next year. Traveling –to and working from the office increases the risk of infection. As long as companies are almost as productive as at the office, employers should continue the WFH protocol

For businesses where operations are suitable for remote working, this will minimize employee contact. Employers should prohibit the congregation and stop offering in-house meals for some time and ask employees to from group lunch. This will reduce employee contact. 

Stay informed about employment law changes 

Governments around the world have enacted changes to employment law due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The law puts more emphasis on protecting employees and granting sick leaves to certain employees. As a measure to focus on workplace safety and make return-to-work effective. 

The U.S government has introduced Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. According to the new act, employers with fewer than 500 employees must allow a maximum of two weeks (80 hrs) of paid leaves to employees under the following situation:

  • Subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine order
  • Have been directed to self-quarantine by a healthcare provider 
  • Are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis 
  • Are caring for someone who is quarantined 
  • Are caring for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19

Similarly, the Singapore government has introduced measures for employers to ensure workplace safety and distance. Plus, provide support to help businesses and self-employed persons who are affected by Leave of Absence and Stay-Home Notice requirements due to COVID-19.


All in all, as lockdowns around the world relax and people return to work-from-office routine, it will be the responsibility of employers to keep employees safe. People spend a major part of their day at office and commute. Things are hard for them already, the task for employers is to make them easy and keep them safe.

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