The coronavirus pandemic will no doubt continue to create issues for employers this year. However, for many organisations, 2022 will be about settling into and refining new ways of working and, importantly, taking heed of the current sentiment amongst employees and responding appropriately.
Indeed, our ‘Mind the Gap’ report evidences a divide between employer and employees across a host of employment and HR matters. Organisations who continue with ‘business as usual’ will inevitably face mounting concern.
According to our research, only half of employers are confident that office-based and home-based employees will be treated evenly and fairly in the next 12 months, making this a key area of focus for those exploring a hybrid model who wish to avoid grievances and possible discrimination claims.
Additionally, our findings indicate that bosses are more optimistic than their workers about the future of work (for instance, 64% believe staff are now more loyal to the company than they were pre-pandemic, whereas 23% of employees say they feel less loyal as a consequence of their employer’s COVID response); employers must therefore make efforts to rebuild relationships and trust to avoid falling victim to the Great Resignation. We may also see an increase in Employment Tribunal claims, as almost a third of employees say the pandemic has made them more likely to take action against their employer on a work issue.
In terms of legislation, some of the plans laid out by the government in 2019 to significantly alter some aspects of UK employment law may come to fruition this year. Unfortunately, timescales are still unclear; however, proposals include making flexible working the default, imposing a statutory duty on employers to prevent workplace sexual harassment, and introducing a week’s unpaid carer’s leave.
Employers should also prepare for changes to the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage, which will increase this April along with other statutory pay rates (e.g. maternity pay).
Finally, our research suggests that health and safety will remain a priority, with over half of employers saying the pandemic has fundamentally changed how the organisation views workplace health and safety. Over half of employees (51%) agreed that health and safety standards will be maintained over the next 12 months. Despite this optimism, 36% of employees and 35% of employers would describe their organisation’s health and safety culture as ‘reactive’. As such, taking a more proactive approach to risk management, whereby systems are in place to prevent incidents before they can occur, is a resolution all employers would benefit from setting themselves in 2022.
About the author
Simon Broome SIIRSM Tech IOSH has over 25 years' experience around risk management, honed through his industry background and working on operating software and management systems. He is a Specialist Member of the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management and a Technical Member of IOSH, and also holds the NEBOSH National Certificate in Fire Safety and Risk Management.
Read risk management articles by Simon
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The information contained in this bulletin is based on sources that we believe are reliable and should be understood as general risk management and insurance information only. It is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any specific or individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such. If you wish to discuss your specific requirements, please do not hesitate to contact your usual Towergate Insurance Brokers adviser.