SCOTLAND’S employers are being urged to ensure their workers are being put first as they handle the challenges of returning to the workplace now that restrictions are being eased.

Trade unions have been monitoring how workers have been handling the return to their jobs and have found mixed results.

Dave Moxham, deputy general secretary of the STUC, warned: “With hospitality especially beginning to re-open there has been quite a lot of stress being reported to us.

“There is a quite a degree of uncertainty over levels of pay and hours.

“We’re like everyone else – when it’s safe we want re-opening, but we want it to take place gradually and most of all we want employers to treat staff, many of whom have been off for months and months and months, with a kind of sensitivity which we think they deserve.

“For the last couple of weekends, we’ve had campaigners out talking to workers in some of the big cities about how they’re finding it.

“The number one thing for them in hospitality is the stress of working in completely full environments in terms of tables that are fully occupied.

“Experience is vastly different. Some people were hoping to get more hours and haven’t got them back yet. Some people have found themselves in fairly stressful conditions, with employers expecting them to work very long hours.

“I wouldn’t say that there is one single picture out there, and I certainly wouldn’t say all the employers are doing the wrong thing, but there are significant stresses and strains for anyone who has spent most of the last year unemployed, on furlough but at least with the expectation of some income.

“But now that is changing in very different ways for a whole range of people.”

FOR office workers, their daily routines have been vastly different over the year of Covid and will continue to be so.

And Moxham is stressing the importance of communication between employer and employee to find a healthy compromise.

He added: “Many offices over the next three or four months will begin to re-open, but they won’t necessarily be expected, or allowed, to fully re-open and obviously we would support that. We’re talking about a blended return, one presumes, where some people will return full time to work, some will do blended work, and some will remain working from home.

“And that obviously is a difficult situation to manage because we know that people have got very different views about their own safety but also their future working patterns.

“So, I think it’s very easy to say that there will be a blended return and some people will do some from home and some from the office, but how you actually manage that to ensure that employers do that in full consultation with the staff and that it’s done on a voluntary basis will provide some problems.”

Workers’ groups believe that the months ahead will be challenging, particularly when the extended furlough scheme finishes in September, and they are hoping that government job schemes will help allay some of the effects of the Covid downturn.

But Moxham added: “They will have to begin to kick in quite seriously when the furlough period ends because that’s when we will begin to see a fairly sharp increase in unemployment.

“We’re talking tens and tens of thousands of jobs. We’re probably talking 100,000 jobs which in one form or another won’t come back.

“And we’re concerned about the quality of jobs that will come out of these schemes and that is something that we are really going to have to keep our eye on.”