Organisations that fail to recognise the importance of Employee Relations (ER), could create much deeper workforce issues for themselves – far beyond the coronavirus crisis – warns a senior employment solicitor.
During the pandemic, Charlotte Ashton joined Surrey-based ESPHR – a new model, SRA-regulated employment law firm and ER technology business – and has quickly got to work providing guidance to HR professionals on the complex matters that they continue to face.
And for the companies with a robust ER strategy in place – which helps to maintain a positive employer-employee relationship – ESPHR’s latest recruit believes business leaders can put themselves in a stronger position post-Lockdown 2.0.
“This crisis has impacted all organisations and their people. It greatly highlights exactly why ER is so vital when addressing workforce safety, productivity, infrastructure, happiness and motivation,” said Charlotte, previously an employment and immigration lawyer with Farleys Solicitors.
“The immediate focus will be on saving jobs and protecting businesses, but when things improve, there is a risk that employees – who have not felt fairly treated throughout the crisis – will lack trust in their employer.”
Commenting on the potential impact to firms, Charlotte warned it could damage employee engagement and lead to unresolved issues and employment tribunal claims, further down the line.
“The requirement for excellent ER support will be one which lasts far longer than the global Covid-19 crisis,” she added.
Helping support many of ESPHR’s 200 customer organisations – some of which have tens of thousands of employees, representing sectors including hospitality, retail and property – Charlotte and her six-strong ESP Law colleagues are providing advice on matters including restructure, furlough, and extension of the Job Retention Scheme, alongside redundancy and employee sickness absence.
She said: “It is an unsettling time for many firms but it has been heartening to see teams try to adapt in order to battle on and retain as many people as possible so they can plan for a better future.”
Alongside the extensive Covid-19 support, Charlotte has an established background in immigration law and has advised companies and individuals on the Tier 2 working visa process.
The former Ward Hadaway solicitor has settled into her new work surroundings which – even before the pandemic – sees ESP Law’s team operate exclusively from home, with Charlotte based in Glossop, Derbyshire.
On her appointment, she commented: “It is a really exciting time to join such a skilled team and a business with incredible customers. I want to continue to build strong relationships with companies to ensure I keep delivering the very best ER advice for HR leaders and their colleagues.”
Speaking about ESPHR’s new addition and the business’s focus, founder Pete Byrne added: “I am thrilled to welcome Charlotte to ESP Law. She is a fantastic, experienced addition and has come in at a crucial time as we continue to help customers transform their ER capabilities.
“Her knowledge of immigration will be vital throughout the Covid-19 crisis and beyond. And she’s part of a specialist, forward-thinking team that goes the extra mile to support enterprises when tackling truly complex ER matters.”
Commenting on the rise in ER cases following the pandemic, Pete added: “Enquiries have ramped up. More organisations are demanding quality, commercial, business-critical HR and employment law advice – integrated with ER technology solutions – to make their workforces more efficient, skilled and engaged.”