How Covid-19 has impacted the employment relationships in the Care Sector


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Covid-19 has clearly brought significant challenges to the care sector. However, not only has it affected the running of care services and the provision of care, but has also had a considerable psychological impact on employee wellbeing. 

Care is one of the sectors where, due to the nature of the services provided, operations have to continue working throughout this pandemic and this has brought many challenges. Workplace policies and procedures have had to change rapidly in a short period of time to ensure the safety of employees, service users and their loved ones. As well as the physical and operational considerations, the significant psychological impact of the pandemic – particularly of those people working within the care sector – should be handled carefully. 

The Challenges

Challenges could include employees feeling frightened and refusing to attend work or walking out for fear of their own safety.  Employers are urged to act with caution and seek HR advice when handling these events due to the legal risks that can arise.   Under the Employment Rights Act (ERA), employees have protection from being subjected to any detriment or unfair dismissal where they believe the danger, to their own or others’ safety, to be so serious and imminent.   Covid-19 has the potential to being viewed by an Employment Tribunal as “serious and imminent danger”.  

Employees who blow the whistle and make a protected disclosure on health and safety grounds are also protected from dismissal, selection for redundancy, or being subjected to a detriment under the ERA. 

There is also a challenge around the health and wellbeing of those employees who are shielding or have the personal challenge of home schooling or other caring responsibilities.  For some workplaces, the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been available enabling some employees to be furloughed.  However, this has not been available to all those who operate within the care sector as one of the eligibility rules for the scheme is that the business cannot be publicly funded.  There are exceptions though where the business is not fully funded by public grants. 

Day-to-day people processes, such as disciplinary, grievance and absence management have also had to adapt with the challenges of Covid-19. The importance of social distancing has been essential to how these processes are handled in the safest way possible whilst also being able to conduct a fair process in line with existing employment legislation.  

The current climate requires us to all work differently and adjusting to a ‘new normal’ will take time but will be necessary to ensure we keep our employees and service users safe as we continue to navigate through these difficult times. 

Howden Insurance Brokers

Looking after your employees’ pastoral needs and professional development within their role through robust HR management and staff training, can help create a positive culture and, in turn, can contribute to claims mitigation. It is essential that this risk management goes hand in hand with the right insurance protection should an allegation be made against your business. Howden can advise you on covers you should consider to ensure you are adequately protected. 

HR Solutions

HR Solutions can provide you with guidance and support tailored to your care business.  We understand the challenges of keeping up to date with the ever-changing guidance relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and that many businesses need additional support to discuss options in relation to the resource planning of their requirements going forward.  We can carry out an audit and produce a report to help you plan your way forward, as well as provide day to day support and guidance as situations unfold.

As a Howden Care client, you can get discounted access to the HR Knowledge Base, which is the go-to resource for thousands of business owners and managers across the UK. The HR Knowledge Base includes HR documents, templates, legal updates, news and hot topic articles as well as access to free webinars and HR seminars. To find out more call 0844 324 5840 or visit