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HR professionals staying relatively safe from COVID-19

The UK's HR profession has suffered a comparatively small number of COVID-related deaths, new data has found.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), between 9 March and 28 December 2020, 7,961 deaths involving COVID-19 were recorded in the working age population (aged 20 to 64 years old).

In a sample of around 52,000 people – and where occupation data was available – only seven COVID-related deaths of HRDs and managers were recorded.

Eight HR and industrial relations officers were documented as having died of the virus, whereas there were zero HR administrative occupations deaths related to COVID-19 recorded.

The professions with the highest recorded death rates connected to COVID-19 were taxi drivers and chauffeurs at 209 and care workers and home carers at 107.

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Speaking to HR magazine, Mark Hendy, founder of HR consultancy Hendy HR, said the ONS data is another tragic reminder of the severe impact COVID-19 is having on the UK.

He said: “This harrowing information reinforces the importance the role HR plays in every organisation's fight against the virus, through keeping our colleagues as safe as possible.

“We absolutely must continue to keep this at the top of our agenda.”

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has previously warned that many workplaces are not taking adequate measures to protect employees from coronavirus.

While it is a legal requirement to carry out a risk assessment and share it with staff, a TUC survey found that just two-fifths (38%) of workers said they know their employers have carried out COVID-secure risk assessments.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said making sure workplaces are safe is key to preventing the spread of the virus.

She said: “Rather than trying to bully people back into offices, ministers should change the law to require all employers to publish their risk assessments, and make sure workplaces are safe.

In July last year a clothes factory in Leicester was thought to have contributed to the spread of the virus, as it continued to make staff work throughout the lockdown.

“The government should crack down on bad bosses who risk their workers’ lives. As we saw with Leicester, it only takes one bad boss playing fast and loose with workers’ safety to shut down an entire city,” said O’Grady.