Reopening your business after lockdown: FAQ’s

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Many businesses across England are now in the process of or looking forward to reopening as the lockdown begins to ease. Employers will be questioning how best to handle their reopening’s from a variety of perspectives including employee wellbeing and workplace health and safety. Below we look at the most commonly asked questions and give our advice on dealing with them.

How can we aid in ensuring the health, safety, and wellbeing of employees on return to the workplace?  
Harwood HR have previously compiled a ‘Returning Employee Checklist’ for employers use during workplace reopening’s. The document can be found here.  
How should we go about discussing workplace returns with employees?
It is important for employers to emphasise the importance of employee mental wellbeing during a return to the workplace. Therefore, open communication with staff regarding expected return dates, workplace safety policies etc is vital in building employee trust. Manager employee meetings would be a great way to discuss workplace returns prior to them happening, giving the employee a place to raise any concerns they may have and for the manager to reassure and take any concerns on board.
Can we require employees to take regular COVID-19 tests?
The government is now encouraging businesses to introduce frequent workplace testing through various channels (click here for more details). It is a voluntary decision for employers to run testing programmes, however an employer can make it mandatory for employees to participate in their programmes.
Should we conduct a risk assessment prior to reopening?
Yes – we would absolutely encourage workplaces to conduct a thorough risk assessment prior to reopening the workplace. Please see our useful template and advice here.
Can we use the flexible furlough scheme whilst we adjust and reopen?
Yes – the flexible furlough scheme allows employees to return to work on less than their contractual hours whilst claiming the remainder of hours from the government furlough support scheme. The scheme is intended to be used as an alternative to making redundancies and has proven especially useful for businesses adjusting to increased work levels again. We have created a flexible furlough letter for your use – see here.                       
Can we request all employees show proof of vaccination/accept their vaccination when offered?
In short – no. Whilst you can encourage employees to be vaccinated, you cannot force them and any concerns employees have regarding the vaccine should be sensitively discussed with managers. Employers can ask employees if they have been vaccinated, but they must have a good reason for needing to know as this information is sensitive personal health data. Please click here for more detail.
We have had to make several staff redundant due to COVID-19 and are now able to begin recruiting for those positions again. Can we do this?
Yes, you can – there is no time limit regarding recruiting for positions previously made redundant. If your company is in a position to begin recruiting again, Harwood HR has extensive experience in people and talent resourcing and would be happy to help with your recruitment needs. Do get in touch on
When does the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) now end?
The CJRS has now been extended until the end of September 2021. More detail regarding the scheme can be found here.

If you and your business need more support during the process of reopening, please do get in touch on 0117 439 0119 or email us at

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