Building Back paper from ACAS calls for more inclusive and flexible workplaces

Take Care of Each Other text sign on building
Image Credit: 
Pavel Nekoranec via Unsplash
29 July, 2020


A new policy paper from Sir Brendan Barber, ACAS Chair from 2014-2020, calls for fairer, more inclusive and flexible workplaces and a new workplace contract as the nation recovers from coronavirus.

Building back: Making working lives better uses insight from long before coronavirus, as well as knowledge gathered during the pandemic. The paper recognises that:

  • Although the furlough scheme has protected many jobs and benefitted employers, mass unemployment is on the horizon for some, and already a reality that ACAS members face.
  • Mental health issues are an increasing concern – as well as employees with pre-existing mental health conditions now exacerbated by coronavirus, many employees with no mental health history are now dealing with anxiety, stress and depression. Returning to the workplace after furlough or after working from home can understandably cause anxiety.
  • Inequality needs to be tackled. People in insecure and low-paid work, such as zero-hours contracts, have been hit particularly hard by coronavirus: losing their job, being furloughed, and possibly unaware of their basic employment rights.
  • Some previously undervalued jobs have become more valued due to COVID-19. Public appreciation for workers in these (often low-paid) roles will lead to new debates on fair pay. 
  • Some employers are making rushed decisions that may go against the Equality Act 2010, by not providing enough support to pregnant or disabled employees.
  • The ability to work from home has benefitted many employers and employees; some have found a better work-life balance. For others, it has been harder to balance work with caregiving or unsuitable conditions for working at home. Flexibility is key. The report asks: ‘Can we make flexible work arrangements the norm?’.

This policy paper isn’t official ACAS guidance but, whatever the size and focus of your organisation, it raises useful points for your management team to discuss. It also gives some insight into the work-related issues that may affect people of all ages in your community.    

If you are interested in learning more about mental wellbeing and stress management in the workplace, why not sign up to our Time Management, Stress Management and Reflective Practice online course? This is a half-day afternoon course, on Wednesday 16 September 2020, which will help you manage your time and monitor your stress levels more effectively.