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Employment-related support for ESA and UC claimants

Employment relations during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the world of work. From furloughing to flexible working, employers have had to transform their everyday practices, with impacts on employers and employees alike. This survey, by Acas and NatCen, aims to understand how small-and-medium sized employers have navigated these challenges and to hear about what lies ahead. The results will be used to inform the strategies put in place to support employers as we emerge from COVID-19. We want to hear from a range of employers, so your views are very important to us.

This research is being carried out by NatCen Social Research, Britain’s largest independent research organisation, in partnership with Acas – the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Acas is an independent, government-funded public body that provides support and advice on employment rights, workplace best practice and resolving conflict to employers and employees in Britain.

Who would we like to speak to?

We’d like to speak to the most senior person responsible for dealing with employment relations issues like pay, working hours, staff contracts, recruitment, and disciplinary matters.

What will taking part involve?

We will be conducting interviews over the phone, at a time that suits you, and it should take no longer than 20 minutes. You will be able to skip any questions which you do not wish to answer, or which are not relevant to you. In the telephone conversation, we will be collecting some basic information about your organisation like how many staff work there and what types of contracts they are on, and asking about:

  • How your organisation has responded to the pandemic, including use of the furlough scheme, making cutbacks and consulting with staff
  • How this has affected employment relations, including any sources of workplace conflict or disputes
  • Your experience of managing employee health and wellbeing
  • Your plans for the future, including plans for any flexible working options introduced during the pandemic permanent

Do I have to take part?

Taking part is completely voluntary.

There will be no consequences if you decide not to take part.

What happens next?

At some point in May or June, one of NatCen’s interviewers will give you a call to check when you are free to take part. You don’t need to do anything now, unless you don’t want to be contacted. If you would prefer not to take part, please contact us by phone on 0800 652 4569 or email at

How will the information I provide be used?

The research team at NatCen will use the information you and many others provide to write a report for the Acas. This report will help them identify areas in which more support for workplaces is needed.

Contact us

If you have any further questions or would like to discuss the research, please contact us using the details below.

0800 652 4569