Two years ago today, on 23rd March 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a televised address to the public, telling them to ‘stay at home’.

What percentage of our workforce have since had their lives changed by COVID-19?


Health and wellbeing support

In response to the pandemic, 86 percent of employers believe their employees would like more support for their health and wellbeing, according to a survey by Towergate Health & Protection.

Distribution Director at Towergate Health & Protection, Bret Hill, explains: “The pandemic has altered the way we live and work and has changed our outlook and expectations. Employees need greater health and wellbeing support now than ever before and employers need to look at new ways to assist their staff that matches with the change in circumstances and growth in need.”

“Two years on, the country thankfully seems to be emerging from the pandemic, but it has irreversibly changed many lives,” adds Hill.


Working from home

In April 2020, 46.6 percent of people in employment worked from home, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Of those who did work from home, 86 percent did so because of the pandemic.

This effect was felt globally, with a dramatic increase in those working from home in America. According to the Pew Research Centre, 20 percent of Americans worked from home before the coronavirus outbreak.

This has increased dramatically, with over 70 percent working from home currently.

Perhaps the most obvious impact of COVID-19 on the labour force is this dramatic increase in employees working remotely.


COVID-19’s hit on hospitality

Consumer spending remains less then 70 percent of pre-pandemic levels, according to the ONS.

Similarly, hospitality’s turnover in May remained one-quarter lower then 2019 levels.

The hospitality sector has suffered immensely because of the pandemic, with hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs all taking a hit as a result of the longevity of the UK’S lockdown periods.

In April 2020, just under 1,650,000 employees in the hospitality sector were on furlough, this fell to just under 590,000 employees furloughed at the end of May 2021, according to data from HM Revenue and Customs.

This represents a quarter (25%) of all furloughed employees.

However, confidence of business survival in the hospitality sector has started to increase in May 2021, says ONS, but nonetheless remains below the all-sector level.

It is encouraging to note that job vacancies in the hospitality sector have increased to a level higher than pre-pandemic.



There was a fall in employment levels throughout 2020 following the start of the pandemic, with levels dropping down to 32.11 million in November 2020- January 2021, according to a report by the House of Commons.

Since then, employment levels have begun to recover, although in November 2021-January 2022 employment levels decreased on the quarter by 12,000 and remained 519,000 below pre-pandemic levels.

Also, the pandemic’s impact on the labour market has not affected all age groups in the same way.

Older workers (aged 65+) have experienced the highest level of unemployment levels, falling by 8 percent.

The level of employment of young people (aged 16-24) has fallen by 3 percent, according to the report by the House of Commons.

However, recently there has been an increase of young people in employment, with 63,000 more in employment in November 2021-January 2022 than in the previous quarter.

This is an increase of 2 percent.

With COVID-19 restrictions now lifted in the UK, navigating the new labour market is a focus for HR professionals as businesses continue to transition out of the pandemic.






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.