As England prepares to reduce Covid restrictions on 19th July (with other Home countries likely to follow suit), employers are likely to be left wondering “What Next?”
We are expecting to see regulations rolled back, being replaced with “self and corporate” responsibility. There are no clear definitions as to what these new “responsibilities” mean in practice and knowing the variation in human nature, confusion is a distinct possibility.
The main issue that has been raised during 2021 is the notion that people need to get jabbed – but what happens if they refuse? In healthcare settings there may be some pressure that can be brought to bear, but in most workplaces, employees cannot be forced to get a Covid jab – not even the Government can require that! The simple truth is that unless getting jabbed has been made a condition of employment and included in a contract of employment, employers are unlikely to be able to insist.
The distribution of vaccinations in any work force will be key. Initially, younger employees are less likely to be vaccinated than their colleagues who are over 40, whilst employees over 40 who are vaccinated may view younger unvaccinated colleagues are potentially hazardous.
With the easing of regulations, face mask wearing becomes a matter of self and corporate responsibility, then how do employers enforce a consensus amongst their work force? Some employees may wear masks willingly, others may be thankfully that the regulations have gone and look forward to “normal” life returning. Employers may therefore be faced with resolving conflicts between employees.
Faced with these situations, what does the employer do? Segregation of different face mask wearing factions maybe necessary, either within the work place or forcing dissenters (whichever group they are) to work from home, if that is possible. A business may determine a corporate approach but will have to deal with those who wont follow in house rules.
A potential nightmare scenario may develop in some organisations – to which there is no easy way out. A horrible halfway house – like the England football team, we hoped Boris would do better!