Use our COVID-19 resources to better manage the crisis and feel like you are on the front foot View Resources

Managing Employees' Emotions when we go back to Work

Managing Employees' Emotions when we go back to Work

Prepare Your Mangers for likely questions and managing the emotional ups and downs of the team upon returning to work during COVID-19. It would be a mistake to expect employees to return back to normal as soon as lockdown restrictions are lifted. It’s important to recognise that we are going through a crisis and for some, it may be traumatic. It will require your managers to reassure employees. Help them be prepared to do so. 

Here are some likely questions that you and your managers will be faced with, along with our guidance on how to answer them: 

My employer has requested that I can come back to work, can they ask me to do this?

Yes, your employer is under no obligation to furlough employees, they can request you return to work at any point during the furlough period. Your employer has a duty of care towards all employees and they will have to ensure that all their sites are practicing social distancing practices as reiterated by the government.

I don’t feel comfortable about returning to work, can my employer make me return?

Your employer cannot make you return, if you have received a letter from the NHS advising you to remain home you should provide a copy of this to your employer and request you remain a furloughed employee. If you have a child of school age that is not at school you can request that you remain a furloughed employee to care for your child. If you simply do not want to return to work because you have anxieties, discuss these with your employer, they may be able to put your mind at rest, if after discussing with your employer you still do not want to return to work at the current time you will be unpaid for the period of time you remain absent.

I thought the government had instructed all businesses to close, why am I being asked to return to work?

The government have insisted some sectors of business close to try and prevent the spread of coronavirus, they however, have advised that businesses can continue to operate as long as they are following the social distancing obligations and are limiting the spread of coronavirus as much as possible.

I have symptoms of COVID-19 and I have been asked to return to work, what do I do?

If you think you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 and you have been asked to return to work you should inform you employer you are not available for work and are either self-isolating for the required period and or following the guidance on testing, as you may be eligible to receive a test.

Once you have completed your isolation period successfully or received test results, assuming you have been tested, you can inform your employer and either safely return to work or confirm you are still unavailable for work and state the reasons why.

I have a letter from the NHS advising me to remain at home, can my employer insist I return to work?

If you, or a member of your household has received a letter from the NHS you can continue to shield for the relevant period advised, you can request that you remain furloughed for this period of time. By receiving a letter from the NHS your condition means you are in the highly vulnerable group.
Highly vulnerable includes:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients.
    • People with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
    • people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
    • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
    • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
    • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
    • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
  • People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
  • People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

I have a health condition which I believe puts me at high risk of coronavirus – can my employer insist I return to work?

There are some health conditions that fall into the vulnerable group but are not classed as highly vulnerable. Vulnerable employees are able to continue working, or their partner continuing to work, as long as they follow the social distancing guidance. Some people will need to undergo an additional health and safety risk assessment to ensure it is safe to continue to work in the same role/area, pregnancy will class an employee as vulnerable, and will be one of those areas where an additional risk assessment should be conducted.
Vulnerable includes:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (i.e. anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
  • chronic (long-term) respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
  • chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
  • chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
  • diabetes
  • problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
  • a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
  • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
  • those who are pregnant

Share this information with your team. You can download a PDF of these FAQs here.

Back to News Listing

Need help quickly?

There's a great deal to manage right now - the Furlough Scheme, returning to work safely. Lean on us for helpful guidance. Book a call (it's free) with one of our HR or health & safety experts.

We will process your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy. You may withdraw this consent at any time by updating your preferences.  We make this easy for you by placing a link to your preferences in the footer of every email we send you.

COVID-19 Resources

How to Apply for a grant through the Kickstart Scheme Latest Updates for Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19) COVID Outbreak Management Policy Fair Redundancy Process Checklist Guide to Creating a COVID Secure Workplace How to manage the holiday season and reduce the risk of losing staff to self-quarantine Cleaning regimes required for a COVID-19 secure workplace Guidance on Face Coverings in Retail and Shops JULY 24TH Summary of Recent Government Updates Kick Start the Economy Government Announcement Updated guidance for outdoor pools indoor gyms, pools and leisure centres Guidance for the Re-opening of businesses and venues from 11 and 13 July Updated Guidance for Working Safely

Five steps to working safely - display the poster to demonstrate you have followed the guidance Changes To Social Distancing At Work from 4th July 2020 Updated Advice: Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Step By Step Guide for Employers 7 Traps to Avoid When Making Redundancies During Furlough Redundancy During Furlough Easing of Lockdown for Business but does it apply to you? Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - 10th June 2020 Return to Work Safely FAQs Planning Your Return to Work Top Tips to Prepare your Managers Legionella Risks During the Coronavirus Pandemic Coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme A List of Helpful Returning to Work Safely Resources Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended to end of October 2020 VAT on PPE is now ZERO Managers Top Ten Health & Safety Tips Return to Work Safely Toolkit Managing Emotions when we go back to Work Communications Matrix Top Tips for Mental Wellness Keeping in Touch With Furloughed Workers Manager's Guide to Furlough Leave and Wellbeing Staff Survey - Winning on Furlough Webinar: Working from Home and Winning Social Distancing in the Construction Industry Is your PPE Legal and does it do what it claims? Extension of First Aid qualifications 8 Helpful Tips To Promote Home Worker Wellbeing Free Staff Survey: Working From Home and Winning Maintain Safe Working Conditions COVID-19 HR and H&S Management Checklist COVID-19 Staff Announcement Building Entrance COVID-19 Sign Coronavirus and Home Working Guide
Park City Call Back

We will respond to your call back within 24 hours during business working hours

Please enter your name
Ask a question and get FREE advice

Juliet Price is the Managing Director here at Park City and has extensive, specialist knowledge in HR, Health & Safety and staff development. Enter your question below and we'll be back in touch soon with an answer!

Please enter your name
Please enter your telephone number
Please enter your question
Discover how your people truly feel

Dig deeper into underlying issues, spot opportunities, take action and track progress. Listen , review and take action with real-time reports. Download information about the WeThrive product toolbox, our recommended employee engagement solution.

Please enter your first name
Please enter your surname
Please enter your company name
Please enter your email address
Please enter your telephone number