Government pressed to consider coronavirus’ long-term impact on employee health

More research into the coronavirus pandemic’s long-term impact on employees' health and career development is needed, according to The Employment Lawyers Association (ELA).

The ELA has submitted written evidence to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee’s inquiry into employment and COVID-19, which will be analysing the pandemic’s impact on the UK workforce and advise what urgent measures should be taken to protect and create jobs.

It has recommended the government investigate the impact on the mental health of workers and whether there is a long-term negative impact on employees’ physical health when working away from the employer’s premises.

Speaking to HR magazine Clare Fletcher, professional support lawyer at Slaughter and May said: “Within ELA, we represent the whole spectrum of employers, employees and trade unions. We have witnessed the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the employment market since the start of the pandemic, and wanted to use our collective experience to inform the work of the Lords’ Committee."

As remote working has become the new normal, the ELA has also questioned if the pandemic has had a negative impact on training, particularly for new and/or inexperienced members of staff.

How the pandemic is affecting vulnerable parts of the workforce, potentially deepening issues like gender, disability and ethnicity pay gaps, has also been recommended as a key area of focus.

Lorrelee Traynor, employment solicitor at NHS Wales Shared Services Partnership, said she believes the government must understand what impact the pandemic could have on employees’ futures.

“It’s paramount that the government understands what impact this could all have, and if it has detrimentally affected their career development,” she said.

Traynor added: “It’s also important to analyse whether this has hampered efforts to close the gender, disability and ethnicity pay gaps.

“With this information, the government may be able to mitigate the negative consequences on employees and protect more vulnerable parts of the workforce.”

The committee's inquiry will be running until December after which point it will make its recommendations to government.