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Why we need to step up to provide legal support

Posted on: Friday November 13, 2020

The impact of Covid-19 goes far beyond the obvious threat to physical health. People’s mental, social and financial wellbeing have been affected in a multitude of ways.

One issue which has been somewhat overlooked is the rise of legal challenges, which can have a significant strain on all areas of employee wellbeing. If individuals are unable to get good legal advice, they could find themselves with unnecessary relationship issues and money problems.

By helping workers address any legal concerns or queries, employers could be getting to the root cause of the problem. This could save the individual from long-term stress – helping them to perform well at work.

The rise of legal challenges

The strain of the pandemic on family life has been taking its toll. As far back as June, Citizens Advice reported that visits to its divorce webpages had grown by 25%. Some police forces have also reported a 196% increase in neighbourhood disputes, which could create personal distress and be an added distraction to those working from home.

At work, employees are grappling with a host of new legal challenges, including health & safety, holiday allowances, self-isolation guidance, homeworking, furlough and redundancy rights.

The world, and the rules and regulations we adhere to are changing at frantic pace. There are significant changes happening at work and in the workplace – yet few can afford expensive lawyers to get critical advice and support. Many have been left feeling confused and unprotected.

Employees are turning to their workplace to get the guidance they need. In fact, Personal Group recently witnessed a 65% increase in calls to Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) for legal concerns.

Supporting the whole person

It shouldn’t matter if someone is getting advice on a personal family issue, or one directly related to their employment at the company. Providing access to confidential, unbiased advice builds trust with the employee. It shows there is nothing to hide in your working practices. You are happy to be held to account and you are doing everything you can to protect them – both inside and outside of work.

Employers shouldn’t be worried about workers seeking employment law advice. In this changing world, when employers are doing things they may not normally, for an employee to have it confirmed by a professional that what they is doing is totally above board can build trust and prevent issues - even if the employee doesn’t particularly like what’s happening. 

This approach should extend to any other issues employees (and their families) are facing, with financial guidance, health and mental health services provided as standard. Supporting the whole person and their extended network will enhance an individual’s overall wellbeing – with a happy home life helping employees to be more productive at work.

Preparing for the second wave

As we better understand the damage caused by the first wave of Covid-19 cases, employers need to prepare for the impacts of the autumn’s second wave. While businesses are under significant pressure, they should ensure that they do everything possible to protect their biggest asset — their workforces. As people look for support, providing access to confidential, unbiased advice is the right thing to do.

Article published in HR Zone on 13th November 2020


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