The past few months during the coronavirus outbreak have been difficult for everyone. Financial worries, anxiety about family members and emotional and relationship problems during lockdown have been taking their toll on many people. Find out how to support your colleagues, clients and – importantly – yourself when you reopen your salon or barbershop.
This blog post covers:
- What the law says
- Before returning to work
- Back in the workplace
- Spotting the signs of stress
- Employees coping with OCD
- Employees who cannot return to work yet
- Dealing with stress
- Supporting a grieving colleague
- Domestic abuse support
- Annual leave
- Further resources
The law says you have a legal duty to protect your salon or barbershop employees from stress at work. As part of this you should carry out a risk assessment.
This doesn’t apply to stress that isn’t related to work, but as a caring employer you will want to do your best to offer support to your employees, especially as this particularly difficult time.
Take the time to communicate with your salon/barbershop employees before reopening:
- Explain the health & safety measures you are taking to protect them and your clients.
- Ask if there are any additional health & safety measures they would like to see put in place.
- Ask if they have any specific concerns or worries about coming back to work. Try to put their mind at rest and ask if there is anything further you can do to help.
- Make sure they are clear about what is expected from them once they return to work.
- Ask if they have any worries about their new responsibilities, for example, in relation to keeping the workplace clean or needing to explain new rules to clients.
Always be honest and acknowledge that there is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety for everyone at the moment. If you don’t know the answer to a question say that you will do your best to find out as soon as possible.
Make it clear that your number one priority is the wellbeing of your salon/barbershop employees. Explain that you want to listen to their concerns as they arise and that you will do your best to address them.
Make time to have private meetings with employees in case they don’t feel confident enough to speak up in front of colleagues. This could be particularly important for younger staff and apprentices.
Always take concerns seriously, explain the steps you have already taken to protect staff and clients and, where possible, put in place extra measures that your employees feel may be necessary.
Signs of stress and other mental health problems can include:
- Performing less well at work.
- Taking more sick leave.
- Tiredness, irritability or mood changes.
- Becoming quiet and withdrawn.
- Being self-critical.
- Indecisiveness and poor judgement.
- Loss of sense of humour.
- Physical symptoms such as sleeping badly, weight loss or gain, headaches, nausea, aches and pains.
- Experimenting with drugs or alcohol.
Read our blog post to find out what to if you think an employee in your salon or barbershop may be experiencing stress, anxiety or depression.
OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) is a serious anxiety-related condition. These anxieties can relate to obsessive fears around germs and contamination and at the current time may lead to intrusive thoughts about passing the coronavirus on to loved ones and other related worries.
These are worries that most people will have, but for those with OCD they can cause additional anguish. (Although it’s important to note that not everyone with OCD will be affected in the same way.)
The national OCD charity has published some survival tips to help those with OCD cope with the coronavirus outbreak.
Do all you can to support your employees’ good mental health including those with mental health issues.
Don’t forget: it is against the Equality Act 2010 to treat employees less favourably because of a physical or mental disability.
The Mental Health Foundation also advises that anyone who feels they need urgent support with a mental health problem should go to their GP or A&E.
Stay in contact with employees who cannot yet return to your salon or barbershop and ensure they are receiving the pay and/or benefits they are entitled to.
The government says that those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact. This is called shielding. Find out more on the government website.
If your employees are shielding, are unwell or live with someone who is unwell, be supportive and make it clear that you understand they cannot return to work yet.
Shielding employees can remain on furlough until further government guidance is given.
If your employee is unwell or lives with someone who is unwell they should stay home and under the current rules will be entitled to any Statutory Sick Pay that is due to them.
You will want to do all you can to support an employee who is grieving for a close family or friend. Read our blog post for detailed information and advice on how to best help your colleague through such a difficult time.
From a practical point of view, make sure your hair/beauty salon or barbershop has a clear policy in place for compassionate leave and that all staff are aware of it. Remember that even if your employee was on furlough at the time of their bereavement, they may still need to take some compassionate leave when you reopen. Find out more about compassionate leave.
There have been many reports that domestic abuse has increased during lockdown. Stay alert to signs that any of your employees may have been experiencing domestic abuse.
The government is asking employers to reassure staff that they can still leave their home if they are experiencing domestic abuse and that there is still support available, including online, helplines, refuges and the police. You can download a domestic abuse employer pack from the government website.
Remember: anyone in immediate danger can call 999 and ask for the police. Silent calls will work if the person in danger cannot speak. Find more information about how this works.
Although furloughed staff have not been working, they may have been under considerable stress during lockdown.
Encourage your salon/barbershop employees to take the annual leave they are entitled to. They will have continued to build up their annual leave entitlement while on furlough.
Remember: the coronavirus outbreak led to a temporary relaxation of the rules about carrying over annual leave into subsequent years. Find out more in our blog post.
- Every Mind Matters offers ten tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus and advice about mental wellbeing while staying at home.
- The NHS offers a range of help and support for those who are stressed, anxious or depressed.
- The Mental Health Foundation lists a number of organisations that offer help and support and advice on how to look after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.
- You can access free ten-minute work outs from Public Health England to help stay fit and healthy.
- For those with existing mental health problems you can access comprehensive guidance provided by Mind.
- The government has published guidance on mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak.
- Understand what the law says about dealing with stress in the workplace
- Liaise with your employees before you reopen, discuss concerns and ensure they understand the H&S precautions you have put in place.
- Support your employees when they come back to work.
- Understand how to spot the signs of stress and how to deal with it.
- Remember that individuals with OCD may find it particularly difficult to cope at this time.
- Stay in contact with employees who cannot yet return to work.
- Make sure you understand how to support a grieving employee.
- Access government help for supporting employees experiencing domestic abuse.
- Encourage employees to take annual leave.
- Make the most of resources offered by the government and mental health charities.