Report finds employers failing to consider wellbeing in office returns

Research by law firm Schofield Sweeney has found employers have yet to start making important health and wellbeing adjustments to their workplaces to help staff return to the office.

The survey discovered only 39% of businesses had amended or introduced new health and safety policies specifically to deal with the likely increased mental health issues of their employees.

This is despite the fact the same study found one-in-seven employers (69%) admitted they thought their workforce’s mental wellbeing will have been negatively impacted by the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

The research also revealed that more than half of organisations (55%) did not even know if they had any employees who were unable to have a Coronavirus vaccination on medical grounds.

According to Craig Burman partner, Schofield Sweeney, the results showed a worrying lack of preparation by employers to consider their employees’ mental health, or to accommodate those who may have any underlying health issues.

He said: “Employers will have to keep clinically vulnerable staff safe as we return to normal and social distancing measures are relaxed. Those unvaccinated staff who remain at a high risk from the virus will need all reasonably practicable measures to keep them safe, and this will also extend to staff who live with clinically vulnerable family members.”

The research further found that more than 60% of employers either had not made or did not intend to make any adjustments for unvaccinated staff or those unwilling to return to the office.

Almost one-in-six respondents (16%) said they expected some of their employees to refuse to return to the workplace after the pandemic, compared to almost two-thirds (63%) who did not expect this to happen and 22% who didn’t know. But 90% of those polled said they had not yet developed any policies to deal with this.

Burman added: “A health, safety and wellbeing policy sat on a shelf in an office and never looked at is not an effective policy. To protect themselves, employers need to show they have an active, dynamic and visible policy to address these issues.”