On the 10th of December, Partner Samantha Grimes, together with Senior Associate Danielle Victor, and Associate Matthew Smith, presented a webinar tackling health and safety issues related to working from home, employee engagement in light of remote working, and employee registration and related issues.
Danielle Victor kicked off the webinar with an insightful introduction to the evolution of the virus and how this has impacted employers’ advice throughout the different stages of the pandemic. Danielle revealed that the employment team has received numerous requests for advice on this topic, namely about what legislation is in place and how this impacts the relevant duties of employers’ duties in respect of their employees’ health, safety and welfare in the context of the pandemic.
Limited health and safety law, meant that in the early stages of the pandemic, there was a heavy reliance on the evolving contingency measures legislation and public health guidance.
As the pandemic has shown some degree of unexpected longevity, employees have now had to consider longer-term contingency plans, which has raised some new questions for the team, involving: working from home policies, mental health policies, tax implications, and risk assessments.
Samantha Grimes explored what the key aspects are to ensuring successful home-working. Whilst some may have struggled with less control over their workforce, many managers have reported an increase in productivity since working from home measures were introduced. Sam posits that this may be due to new opportunities for flexibility; employees have been able to manage their time in the way they wanted to.
One of the biggest issues managers have faced is how to keep work teams feeling connected. The webinar discussed how this might be achieved and the practical steps which may be taken.
Sam noted that not everyone is fortunate enough to have the appropriate environment at home that is conducive to work – such as those with young children at home. Additionally, without that daily face-to-face interaction with colleagues, people may start to feel disengaged, risking a drop in productivity as a result. Sam look at what mitigating steps could be taken.
Sam emphasised the importance of encouraging workers to emulate, as much as is possible, normal intracompany relationships, even though this now has to be conducted in a slightly different manner.
Matthew Smith posed some key questions regarding registration queries in particular relating to detached workers. Matthew also considered that some companies now face having employees working remotely from other jurisdictions and what the implications of this are.
Many thanks to all who attended the webinar. If you have any questions related to the topics covered, or on any other employment issues, please contact Samantha.Grimes@isolas.gi, Danielle.Victor@isolas.gi, or Matthew.Smith@isolas.gi.