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What Are Staggered Working Hours? Policies & Examples

May 26, 2020

Talk has now turned to the return to work and how this can be managed once control of the Coronavirus outbreak is gained. Recent government advice has also confirmed that those who are unable to work from home should start to return to work.

But as we are all aware, we are likely to be heading to a ‘new normal’ in many areas of our lives. Work being one of them.

There has been discussion about staggered working hours being introduced to ease the number of people travelling. A potential change to the 9-5 that many workers are used to.

What are staggered working hours and how may they impact the way that people work?

What are staggered working hours?

According to the flexible working information listed on the gov.uk website staggered hours are defined as ‘The employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.’

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps mentioned the concept of introducing staggered working hours as a response to Covid-19. It is thought introducing more flexible working patterns may avoid peak rush hour travel journeys and help control and suppress transmission of the virus once people do start to make the return to work.

Having large numbers of people on public transport, where space is already limited, makes social distancing and the need to keep 2m apart impossible.

Staggered working times, where not everyone has a 9am start for example, could help reduce the number of people not only looking to use transport, but also stagger the arrival of people into office buildings. Something which could cause a bottleneck and crowds of people.

There are also very real issues around having all of your employees arriving at roughly the same time – how do you get people safely into your building whilst maintaining social distancing, how do you operate lifts with the 2m distancing required?

As well as staggered working hours, there is likely to be a staggered return to work. As we are already seeing, those who cannot work from home are being encouraged to return to work. Those who can work from home are being encouraged to continue to do so for what could be the foreseeable future.

This may continue across the workforce and when it is felt that other people can return to work, we may see this staggered. For example, those with the highest need of going into an office being prioritised. Or people working only certain days in the workplace rather than Monday – Friday

Offices and other places of work for example could find that:

  • They are unlikely to be able to run at full capacity with the 2m social distancing requirements
  • Hot desking may be a thing of the past
  • Meetings could be limited to a certain number of people.

What could staggered working hours look like in practice?

Theoretically it could see a longer working period across the course of the day to enable staggered arrival and departure times. Will the standard 9-5 remain? Some workplaces may look to set up two working patterns. For example, having some staff who work a morning shift. And others who work an afternoon shift.

Or you may see staggered hours of arrival and departure throughout the day.

It is very likely that flexible working and working from home will be here to stay for the time being as employers look to protect the health and safety of their employees as well as adhere to government guidance.

Government advice around workforce management during coronavirus also includes:

  • Staggering arrival and departure times at work to reduce crowding into and out of the workplace, taking account of the impact on those with protected characteristics.
  • As far as possible, where staff are split into teams or shift groups, fixing these teams or shift groups so that where contact is unavoidable, this happens between the same people.
  • Staggering break times to reduce pressure on break rooms or canteens.
  • Carrying out Covid-19 risk assessments
  • Reinforcing cleaning processes

For full guidance on working safely during the coronavirus refer to the gov.uk website.

How can staggered working hours be rolled out to the workforce?

If you plan to roll out staggered working hours, then some areas to consider include:

  • Giving consideration to employees’ rights with regards to their working patterns
  • Ensuring that you adhere to social distancing and hygiene guidelines
  • Communicating with staff and disclosing the reasons for needing to change working patterns
  • Considering personal circumstances when making changes to working patterns
  • Reviewing working patterns in line with government advice

At the time of writing, government guidance states that those who can work from home should. But now may be the time to start to think about how you will manage the return to work as a business. And for those who run businesses where staff cannot work from home, then refer to, follow and adhere to government guidance.

At Anthony Jones, we work closely with all of our clients to help them understand  not only their insurance requirements but also their risk management strategies and exposure to certain risks.  If you have any questions about any elements of your business insurance at this time, or are looking to review your cover then do get in touch with us.

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