Any length of absence can be disruptive to employers, but there are particular extra considerations...
As it was National HR Day on 20th May, we thought it might be interesting to reflect on how HR in General Practice has changed over the past year and what issues employers may be facing in the coming months.
Practices have had to battle with huge staff resourcing issues in light of the pandemic. With some staff having to shield following government guidance and many employees having to self isolate due to COVID symptoms and not to mention the challenges faced with resourcing the vaccine programme. This has presented many challenges for Managers in terms of delivering day to day services in Practice. Not only that, employers and staff have had to adapt overnight to maintaining a COVID Secure workplace. With issues of gaining access to a continuous supply of appropriate PPE for all the team and what to do if an employee states they are unable to wear a face covering. This year has really thrown us into a world of unknown, where we have had to think on our feet and adapt to ever changing guidance.
We have now entered a phase where we feel we are in some sort of limbo. It has now become the new ‘norm’ to wear a face covering where ever we go and to ensure our hands are always sanitised and to maintain our distance from colleagues and patients. But what does the future hold for HR in General Practice. A lot of it is unknown and we are still keeping ourselves informed in terms of government guidance, especially in the light of the new Indian variant. However there are some topics that are hot on everyone’s radar, one of the main ones being hybrid working.
All HR professionals are focusing on understanding what hybrid working may look like for their organisation. The question here is what will hybrid working look like in General Practice? What do employers have to consider when looking at this possible new way of working?
To be clear, this is not a way of working that is going to suit all roles, and it does not have to be an approach that is offered to all employees. The CIPD have established some guidance for employers to determine if there are any roles in their organisation that would suit this new way of working. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself to assist in your determination:
· What type of the role activity is most effective where?
· What is the balance of activity within the role
· How much of the work must be undertaken face to face with other people?
· Which work location best supports productivity and why?
· What are the employee’s personal preferences about how they work?
· What percentage of the work is ‘time flexible’ – e.g. how much of it can be undertaken at any time and how much of it is ‘location flexible’ – it can be undertaken anywhere?
· How is the work currently structured, and can it be structured in a different way to support remote working?
· How much supervision or support does the role require?
There are going to be some clear issues present when considering this for General Practice, mainly issues around patient confidentiality and the handling of patient data. For this reason there are certain roles that wont lend themselves to working from home, however you may have discovered over the past year that some roles have functioned effectively whilst being conducted at a distance from the Practice.
What do employers need to consider
If this is a new strategic approach you are considering, then there are a number of things you will need to put in place:
1. How it will work in your Practice
The first task will be determine what hybrid working will look like in your Practice. There aren’t any hard and fast rules about what hybrid working is, this is down to employers to decide how it will work for them.
A policy will need to be developed, which outlines and explains a few key details to employees. When developing the policy you may want to consider the following:
· Setting out who (or which role types) is eligible for hybrid working.
· Explaining how to request hybrid working.
· Clarifying roles and responsibilities for hybrid workers and line managers.
· How hybrid working intersects with other forms of flexible working.
· Reviewing other related policies including, for example, expenses, IT usage, homeworking and data protection.
3. Legal Implications
It is important to make it clear to employees as well as line managers that if a request for hybrid working is made via a flexible working request, this will in effect change an employees terms and conditions. However hybrid working as well as other forms of flexible working can be agreed on a more informal basis.
There are many more factors that will have to be considered such as maintaining communication with employees who a hybrid working, taking care of their health and wellbeing whilst working away from the Practice, the simple fact of managing an employee at a distance can be a challenge and an approach for this should be considered.
This hopefully provides you with a taster of what to consider if hybrid working is something you are considering in your Practice, or indeed what questions you may need to ask yourself if an employee in fact requests the ability to work in this new way. Like always, if you have any questions on this topic, or indeed any other HR matters, the team at Avon LMC are always happy to help. Please feel free to contact us on 0117 970 2755 or email email@example.com