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Employers would jeopardise good ‘lockdown-will’ of workers with retrospective contract changes

Patrick Lonwegan, Director of Patrick Lonergan Recruitment

Responding to reports that the UK Government is considering changes to labour laws in a post-Brexit shake up, Patrick Lonergan, director of North East-based Patrick Lonergan Recruitment Ltd., has issued a stark warning to employers that they risk losing the goodwill of their workforce built up during the pandemic by making retrospective contract changes.

Reports that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has begun consulting on making changes to the EU’s working time directive, which limits working hours to 48 per week, over a 17-week average, have led Mr Lonergan to issue a warning to business owners that enforcing any changes could cost them the goodwill of their staff.
Mr Lonergan said, “Throughout the last nine months, since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and the first lockdown, business have been blessed by the positivity of their employees, who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to maintain operations through one of the most trying periods for the global economy.

“Any efforts to dilute workers’ rights and retrospectively impose new conditions on their employment, would seriously undermine the loyalty which has really delivered for companies over the last year.”

An expert in the field of recruitment, Mr Lonergan further highlighted that the risk was not just to existing staff but to firms’ abilities to attract the right candidates. He also pointed to a report by the New Economics Foundation in 2019, which showed that better pay and increased leisure time were closely linked with increased productivity.*

He continued: “Over the past ten or twenty years, it has become increasingly common for employers to put in place generous packages in order to recruit and retain the right people. This has included flexible working, significant holiday allowances and an array of other perks. All this work and these packages could be undone and companies could really struggle to recruit the right people, if the government makes changes to this legislation and companies make unreasonable requests of their valued staff.

“Research has clearly demonstrated that there is a direct correlation between leisure time and workplace productivity. Now is not the time to regress to demand ‘all work, no play’.”