Inspire Summer 2020

The latest health and wellbeing news from Towergate Health & Protection

Welcome to the latest edition of Inspire, our quarterly newsletter, designed to keep you informed about the issues that could be relevant to your business.

In this edition we look at how businesses are adjusting to the new normal, with many preparing to go back to work.  

You can also read about methods for engaging remote workers, ways to enjoy the summer, and how to protect your officers and directors in this time of uncertainty.

Adjusting to the new normal – what employers need to consider when planning a return to work

With the new government advice allowing more people to go back to work, it can be a complicated time for employers trying to balance the need to get back to business, with a duty to keep all employees and customers safe and well. The situation is made more challenging by the fact the rules are slightly different across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

We have compiled a quick checklist of the areas which all employers need to be considering at this challenging time:


1. Safety, extra measures and precautions

The government has issued clear guidance for businesses returning people to the workplace on the measures they need to take to be able to open safely so it’s important to be thinking about any changes that would be required to enable workers to return, with social distancing in place.

Physical elements like providing barriers, markers and PPE if appropriate, will need to be considered, along with desk positioning. Shared areas like coffee machines, kitchens and washrooms will also need new approaches to keep them safe.

Our partners Ellis Whittam have developed a new Coronavirus Advice Hub, which contains useful information and guidance relating to health and safety and employment law. To access the information simply register as a new user. When registering, please select “Towergate H&P” as your answer for the “Which Ellis Whittam partner or prospective partner are you currently a member of?” question. Once you’ve registered, you’ll be given access to Ellis Whittam's new Back to Business Premium Hub which contains:

  • A full Covid-19 Health & Safety Policy template that offers a framework for compliance and can be amended to suit your organisation; 
  • A Covid-19 Health & Safety Back to Business Workbook to guide you through the steps needed to resume your operations safely; and 
  • A Covid-19 Employment Law Pack covering ten key areas of a return to work, including expert guides and over 85 template resources.  

2. Employees' feelings of anxiety

With the incredibly strong stay at home message and the fact the virus is still around, there will understandably be a reluctance among many people to even consider coming back to work and this will need to be acknowledged and tackled sensitively by employers.

While people who have hated the isolation of working from home, or being furloughed, will be happy to come back in, others might be terrified by the idea, particularly if they travel by public transport normally.

3. Individual circumstances

While the return to work might be easy for some employees, there will be others who have more complicated situations at home, such as those with children who are still off school, those who care for family members who are vulnerable to Covid-19 and those who have their own underlying health conditions to think about.

Employers will need to look at the risks and solutions for all individual circumstances when planning a phased return to work.

4. Furlough scheme changing from August

With millions of jobs currently furloughed and the scheme set up due to change from August, employers need to think about how they will manage that and if staff can come back part-time or full-time from August onwards. Clear communication about any planned changes will be vital so people aren’t worrying about losing their income.

5. HR and legal issues

There is the potential for new HR and legal issues to arise around any return to work plan, perhaps with some people not willing to return to the office if they have been successfully working from home for months, or others who refuse to accept that it’s safe to do so.

Employers would be sensible to try to foresee some of the issues which could arise and to talk with HR and employment law specialists to make sure they know where they stand.  

Important not to rush the return

Returning to work after months of being away is a daunting prospect for many employees and there are many steps that employers need to take to ensure that can happen safely and effectively. With the HSE ramping up its teams to take on spot checks and tackle complaints it is important to take the time to get the safety measures right, before even thinking about bringing staff back in.

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Top 10 ways to continue to engage your team remotely - now and for the long-term

When lockdown first started, working from home for those who were able to, was a great option, providing the flexibility to keep working, earning and stay safe at the same time. For those with children at home it also helped with the need for childcare.

But now, months later and with the likelihood that many teams will need to continue working remotely for much longer term, the novelty is bound to be wearing off and could be having a negative effect on the workforce.


The stress of isolation and trying to juggle and separate family and working life, all in the same location, can start to get to people, so it’s more important than ever for employers to look at ways to keep remote workers engaged.

Here are ten quick and easy ways to continue to engage those working from home:

1. Encourage team social connections

One of the key issues with working from home is dealing with isolation and missing the chat and friendship of colleagues. However, as an employer you can encourage teams to use technology to interact on a social level, as well as using it for work purposes.

Virtual team quizzes, charity challenges, online gaming contests, set times when they can use message systems to chat to each other, can all be facilitated to help keep people engaged and feeling part of a team.

2. Set up chat options

While using instant messaging services might be a distraction in the office, it’s different when you are at home with no-one to talk to and no phones ringing. The business culture must adapt.

Encouraging teams to chat to each other, using platforms such as Skype, Zoom, Hangout or any of the other options available, will help remote workers to stay connected and support their mental health by giving them someone to talk to when they are having a bad day.

3. Provide good IT support

Employers that expect staff to work from home need to make sure they’re supported with adequate technology and good telephone support, enabling them to carry on with duties as seamlessly as possible and minimising causes of stress.

4. Maintain normal routines where possible

The rapid pace of recent changes to how we live and work can be a real source of stress and anxiety, and many people take comfort in the familiar, and in routine, so rather than cancelling regular office meetings just replace them with virtual ones, particularly where video-calling is available as it helps people to stay connected and to see a friendly face on a regular basis.

5. Recognise great work

Remote working can sometimes feel like no-one notices what you are doing half the time, so make sure that’s not the case. An employee reward scheme that acknowledges the work everyone is doing from home and provides a prize for outstanding achievement can be a great motivator.

Make sure regular communication includes acknowledgement from management that working from home can be difficult and that the company appreciates everything that is being done. These messages can make all the difference.

6. Schedule regular communication

In the office, meetings and briefings and one-to-ones take place all the time and it’s easy to keep up with everything that’s going on around the company. So, it’s important to keep in touch with those now working from home and to keep the communication lines open. Regular phone calls, video calls and online meetings will help to keep people connected.

It’s important that it’s not just the management team holding regular online meetings, but that people at all levels who are at home alone now are included in regular calls and kept connected for their mental wellbeing.

7. Measure employee engagement

Simply asking people how they are feeling with a short survey can make a big difference and if they are asked their opinions on ways to make things better then that’s an even bigger bonus – if those opinions are acted on and not just filed away.

8. Ask the team their opinions

Involving teams in efforts to improve communication, by asking what they’d like to see and how they’d like to be kept in touch with, can make a big difference rather than just telling them what you think they should hear. Giving them a voice can help people to feel part of the culture and more involved, rather than just sitting at home passively receiving company messages.

9. Understand the need for flexibility

Working remotely is a different culture to working in an office and it’s important to remember that. If the work is being produced, on time and to the quality required, then clock watching employees and telling them off for logging off their computer at 4.59pm is not going to help keep them motivated.

It might be that with children in the house, it’s easier for them to work in the evenings, or if they are a naturally early riser, with no commute, they might want to get all their work done at 5am and there is nothing wrong with that.

10. Be clear about what is expected

One of the issues with working remotely is that processes and ways of working must change so make sure people are very clear about what their job role entails and any processes which need to be followed. Clarity and goal setting help to keep people focussed on the tasks in hand.

It’s important for the company to keep employees updated with any news or plans so that they have time to adjust, so if you are making plans to reopen business premises and bring people back into the workplace, tell them what’s being done, share the plans and ask them how they are feeling.

One of the causes of anxiety is not feeling in control so by engaging with teams and telling them what’s happening at each stage, it could reassure them and ease some of that anxiety.

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How to enjoy your summer break

With the summer approaching thoughts will be turning to holidays and how to make the most of our time off under the current unusual conditions. Although the travel and hospitality sector is gradually opening up, many will be choosing to stay at home this summer instead.

While employees might be tempted to cancel their leave and store it up for a big holiday next year instead, companies should be encouraging people to continue to take time off work, for their own mental wellbeing.


The pandemic situation has put a lot of pressure on everyone with all the changes and uncertainty, so it’s important that businesses encourage those who are working to continue to take leave.

There are plenty of ways for people to still enjoy the summer without going abroad so here are some top ideas which you can share with your teams:

1. Spend time outside

We can now spend unlimited time outside with other people, with social distancing, so if you take a week off work you can go to the beach, or to a local country park or forest, to go for nice long walks and even enjoy a picnic in the sunshine. This is all now permitted within the lockdown rules.

Many zoos and wildlife parks are also open – just check the website of anywhere you are planning to visit to make sure it’s open and to find out the new rules as you might need to book in advance. There are now many places accessible to have fun outdoors with your family while still staying safe. If you prefer to stay at home then why not set up your own barbecue in the garden or even a tent with your own campsite to sleep out under the stars.

2. Play games together

As a family you can play games at home, whether they are traditional board games, computer games or competitive sports games. It’s about having fun and forgetting all about work for the time you are on holiday.

The internet is the saving grace for many of us working from home so switch off from work and use it to interact and play online games with friends or make new online friends around the world by engaging in some fun gaming activities.

3. Virtual parties with friends

While we can’t meet up for a big get together, there are plenty of platforms to host online parties with friends, whether it’s just to chat or compete in an online game, or to host a watch party where you all watch a film at the same time. It’s about being creative in finding fun things to do for your time off work.

4. DIY and garden projects

With the DIY stores and garden centres now open why not take time off from work to get out in the garden and sort out all those DIY projects which you’ve been meaning to get around to. It’s a great way to enjoy the sunshine, forget about work and worries and get things done and crossed off your personal to do list.

5. Learn a new skill

With so many online tutorial videos available it’s possible to learn new skills without going to college or leaving your home so maybe try learning to cook the dish of your dreams, or a new dance move or craft hobby. There are so many how-to videos online so take the time to learn something you’ve always wanted to do.

6. Kickstart a new fitness goal

While the gyms might not be fully open there are plenty of online classes being offered by leisure companies so why not take some time off work to kick start that fitness routine, get out and go running or walking and sign up to a new online fitness class to get yourself away from the computer and moving more.

Tennis and golf is now permitted in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and some gyms with sufficient outdoor space are even offering small group exercise classes.

7. Pubs and restaurants

With pubs and restaurants allowed to re-open on 4 July, as long as you follow the new guidance and rules for safety, you can also enjoy a meal out with your family or limited numbers of friends this summer.

While it might feel depressing to employees that they won’t have their normal relaxing two-week holiday in the sun this year, not having any time off at all is not going to help, so encourage people to take their time off and make the most of their time at home in the sun instead.

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Protecting your directors and officers

There is no doubt the current pandemic has had a major impact on the way we work, and the way organisations operate, which will be felt throughout the country for many years to come.

With some businesses closing all together, while others face up to what a new normal might look like and how to implement it, the pressure on directors and officers in companies has never been greater.


With so much responsibility, and emerging new risks and threats from the changes this virus has created in our work environments, it has never been more important for businesses to protect those in charge.

Here are some examples of the types of claims which businesses could find themselves facing:

  • Shareholder derivative claims: when it is deemed that senior management are in breach of their financial duties to their shareholders.
  • Investor claims: this will examine the effectiveness of a management response following a fall in share-prices or scrutiny of company disclosures.
  • Wrongful trading claims: this happens when a director is held liable when a company has gone into an insolvent liquidation or administration.

Our partners at Towergate Insurance Brokers are also anticipating businesses will start to face a significant number of Covid-19 related claims, which could include;

  • Allegations of discrimination, unfair or constructive dismissal
  • Failure to have adequate systems and technology in place
  • Failure to comply with legislation and regulation
  • Supply chain weakness
  • Lack of cyber resilience capabilities
  • Weak checks and/or preventative measures in relation to fraud
  • Inadequate arrangement of insurance

Fortunately, there are specific types of business protection insurance which can help to mitigate against some of these risks at the moment:

Directors and officers liability insurance

Directors and officers liability (D&O) insurance is to provide protection for directors and officers from investigations and claims arising from decisions taken by them in their capacity as a director or officer of the company. The policy will be triggered by allegations that a director or officer has committed a “wrongful act”.

In the case of Covid-19, if a director or officer faces a claim alleging their contingency planning was unsatisfactory or that inappropriate management decisions were made, any D&O policy in place might be triggered. The specific terms and conditions must be considered to determine whether a claim relating to decisions arising from Covid-19 may be covered.

Please note however, as D&O is a ‘claims made’ cover, not claims occurring, it only covers claims and/or circumstances notified to insurers during the ‘policy period’ but please note, the cover includes a retro-active date which is usually the inception of the policy. Therefore, the sooner cover is put in place the better as claims in respect of actions taken before the policy inception date could not be covered.

Employment practices liability insurance

Employment practices liability (EPL) insurance provides cover for claims alleging employer or third-party violations of employment law. This includes any type of discrimination, sexual harassment, wrongful termination or deprivation of a career opportunity brought by employees, former employees, or potential employees.

Corporate legal liability insurance

Corporate legal liability (CLL) covers the organisation against a wrongful act. Cover includes defence costs (and potentially awards) associated with events including breach of contract, the maladministration of a company pension or employee benefit claim, breach of data protection, corporate manslaughter, health and safety, taxation or other regulatory claims.

“Whether due to the current climate or a number of other contributory factors, there has never been a more important time to consider the protection management liability insurance provides. One thing is for sure, cover is only likely to become more restrictive and more expensive as time goes on and we see the true fallout from this crisis,” said Mark Brannon, Commercial Director, Towergate Insurance Brokers.

If you have any concerns about the best way to protect your company directors and officers then speak to your regular Towergate Health & Protection consultant.

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Electronic transfer of underwriting

The Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries (AMII) has announced that the UK PMI industry has reached a landmark agreement to adopt the electronic transfer of underwriting direct between insurers.

The move follows an industry-wide consultation led by AMII Executive Chairman Stuart Scullion who described the breakthrough as “an immensely proud moment.” .


Announcing the news, Mr. Scullion praised the “vision and determination” of insurers for enabling the change – which had previously been “deemed too difficult to achieve” by others but, led by AMII, has taken just 12 weeks to be agreed and implemented.

The new pan-industry arrangement will start on July 1, 2020, for business transferring between insurers for company schemes, both SME and corporate. It will involve a number of new protocols for intermediaries and insurers, irrespective of whether they are AMII members or not.

The processes being adopted, for which training of operational and customer-facing staff at a number of major health insurers is currently taking place, will involve the transfer of encrypted data files to nominated email addresses at each insurer as a secure data transfer.

For larger insurers, the process will be automated, with greater manual intervention for smaller firms. A five working day industry-wide service level has also been agreed.

Mr Scullion said: “I am immensely proud of what we have been able to achieve as an industry in adopting a digital process to exchange personal data and underwriting directly between insurers.

“It’s an agreement which has no doubt been accelerated by the once-in-a-lifetime circumstances created by the Coronavirus, and the challenges faced by the PMI industry driven by GDPR and the new Data Protection Act.

“There have been many challenges to overcome as we sought to agree a process and establish a protocol, and I want to extend my personal thanks to the representatives of all those insurers who have shown the vision and determination which has enabled this to happen.”

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Latest news from the insurers

Did you see the latest updates from the insurers?

Here's the latest from Aviva, AXA PPP, Bupa, Healix Health Services, Medicash, Simplyhealth and Vitality.



11 May 2020 – Seven ways to manage stress in lockdown

Feeling worried, stressed or anxious is an entirely normal reaction. For many people, routine is the cornerstone of their lives. Others may not realise just how much routine they have until it’s gone.

8 June 2020 – Seven facts about those caring for children and elderly relatives

Squished in between two layers of the family tree, this part of the population ends up having to care for ageing or sick parents on one side and hyper-active kids on the other. Sometimes referred to as the 'sandwich generation' - they really are ‘stuck in the middle’.


8 April 2020 – AXA launches new support measures during Covid-19

AXA PPP healthcare announces a suite of service enhancements across four key areas to support its UK members through the current coronavirus crisis.


9 June 2020 – Millions suffer sports injuries at home in pandemic

Newfound enthusiasm for exercise sees Brits upping their intake and trying new sports leading to seven million injuries, from sprains and strains to pulled muscles and back injuries – with men twice as likely to injure themselves than women. But only one in four (25%) has sought out medical help despite phone and video consultations being available to support people from home.

14 May – 11 million Brits working from home in pain

Brits have been slumping on sofas, lounging on beanbags and reclining on beds as they work from home amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but 11 million Brits are now in pain as a result of their home working environment. Bupa UK experts advise on how to prevent further ‘hurting from home’


5 May 2020 – Millennials feeling the Covid-19 workplace strain

During the Covid-19 crisis, millennials are more likely to report being new to remote work; less productive than usual; and feeling a decreased employer connectivity than typical when compared to their Generation X and baby boomer colleagues.

Best of the rest:


29th May 2020 – Latest Covid-19 Travel advice

The current Covid-19 pandemic is an evolving situation and Healix's advice is under regular review based on emerging information about the number of cases and spread of the infection from person to person. Healix is advising highly precautionary measures to limit the potential spread of infection.


9 June 2020 – Medicash launches skin cancer app

Available free of charge to all policyholders on a company-paid health cash plan, the SkinVision app can detect 95% of skin cancer. The SkinVision app is certified by the British Standards Institute (BSI) and across the globe it has nearly 1.3 million users.


26 May 2020 – PPE Support for denplan dentists announced

Simplyhealth has taken a significant step to show its long-term commitment to healthcare by announcing that it is investing £2 million in essential, fully-certified, personal protective equipment (PPE) to help its Denplan member dentists get safely back to work and protect and care for their patients.

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