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Vaccinations buy employee confidence on return to office

Over three quarters (78%) of UK employees will formally complain or leave the workplace if COVID-19 safety regulations are ignored on their return to work, according to new research by digital health service Tested.me.

People who have been vaccinated are also less worried about returning to the office than those who have not been, the study found.

Young people in the UK and those in the age groups yet to be vaccinated were found to be most cautious about returning to work.

A large majority of Gen Z and millennial employees (80%) asked said they would consider making a formal complaint or leaving if their employer failed to ensure the health and safety of all employees.

Donald MacKinnon, group legal director at law specialists Law At Work, said businesses cannot afford to ignore the voices of their employees.

He said: “Employees have every right to require that their company has taken the necessary steps to ensure their safety upon returning to the workplace and failure to do so could not only have a detrimental impact on the employer and their staff, but also lead to claims being raised at Employment Tribunals.”

Employees working in sales, media and marketing industries are the most worried their employer will fail to follow COVID-safety guidelines, as 90% said they would complain or consider leaving their position for a new role.

Unsurprisingly, following a difficult year, 83% of healthcare workers would also raise a formal complaint or consider leaving their role.

This is followed by 87% of those working in architecture, engineering and building; 78% in travel and transport; and 74% in retail.

Wendy Beazley, head of HR and strategic customer experience at communications company 2Circles, said it is important HR teams take employees health and safety seriously.

She told HR magazine: “As HR lead it is my duty to ensure our staff have a safe return to the workplace and feel comfortable in the environment that they are coming back to.

“Our team has successfully implemented regular COVID-19 testing for employees and are focused on facilitating the return to the workplace.”

Beazley said it is vital HR teams make time to deal with in-person issues, such as monitoring social distancing, rather than getting engrossed by administrative tasks. The company is using a digital health pass and management dashboard and associated app to reduce its administrative workload.

Beazley said: “We found using the dashboard considerably reduces the administrative burden of collating and checking the tests which our employees upload.

“The app and dashboard have helped to reassure our staff that the return to the office is safe and secure.”

Tested.me surveyed 1,144 UK employees in April 2021.

How HR can make employees feel safe post-pandemic:

COVID-19, HR and the workplace: three lasting changes

Employees afraid to return to workplace due to COVID-19 safety

Keeping staff safe when reintroducing them back into the workplace