Managers have a significant impact on the successful come – back to the workplace of the employees, their actions and behavior being able to influence the employees` capacity of returning to work, points out an ONV LAW analysis over a series of recommendations of the European Union (EU) made via the European Agency for Safety & Health at Work
One of the highlighted aspects in the EU recommendations is the distinction between the « acute Covid-19 » stage, in which the most severe disease symptoms manifest and which can take 2 up to 4 weeks and the « long evolution Covid-19 » stage or « permanent symptomatic Covid-19», with symptoms lasting 4-12 weeks and the « post-Covid-19 syndrome», with symptoms lasting at least 12 weeks.
“The European Union shows that the long-lasting symptoms are usually ignored, although they have a significant impact on the employees` work capacity, thus most of the ones who report persistent symptoms will need workplace adaptations and a slow come back,” states Lorena Ciobanu, ONV LAW Partner.
The 5 main EU recommendations for managers:
- Keep permanent contact with the employees in their work absence period
- Prepare for the employee`s return to the workplace
- Have a conversation with the employee about coming back to the office
- Offer support in the first days after return
- Offer permanent support and organize regular meetings with the employee
The ONV LAW analysis also shows that it may be necessary to apply temporary policies regarding Covid-19, especially regarding absence due to disease and necessity to support versus sanction those who need a prolonged absence period or adjusted tasks. The absence or the diminishing of work capacity for a considerable number of employees can cause pressure on continuing activities or on the employees who remained at work.
EU recommends supplementary work volume at the lowest possible level for employees affected by Covid-19
The EU recommendations also include maintaining the extra work volume at the lowest possible level, as well as limiting supplementary work as much as possible. Direct managers have an important role in monitoring the situation and avoiding employees` overload, thus it is recommended to respect the rules and agreements regarding the work schedule and rest periods; also employers are recommended to allow employees to relax when they are not at work.
Regardless of the vaccination or the return to office rate of the recovered employees, the EU recommends maintaining sanitary measures, including physical distancing, hygiene, using protection masks to prevent virus spread. These measures remain important, even if the vaccination rate increases.
There are numerous actions that can help the returning employees to manage their health and work, thus the telemedicine professionals remark that the best results are registered when the manager and employees collaborate in this regard.
“In conclusion, we can notice that due to the duration and the impact of the post-Covid-19, people may need a slow come back to work, also known as <progressive> return. It is less probable that a standard, instant come back to be adequate for those affected by long evolution Covid-19. Progressive returns can be adapted in time and may last weeks or even months. For employees with fatigue symptoms, remote work and diminishing the work rhythm, meaning working with rest pauses depending on symptoms are important according to the EU recommendations,” concludes the ONV LAW specialist.
A study by Ipsos Romania quoted by ONV LAW shows that almost half (48%) of the employees who worked from home wish very much to come back to their workplace.