How will this affect your business
It is important to consider how the virus impacts your business:
- Check your insurance policy (or with your broker) whether your insurance policy covers you for an interruption in your business, or a temporary business closure, caused by Coronavirus.
- Are you adequately insured to cover potential financial losses?
- What local agencies are in a position to support you should your business require support?
- Consider how a business decision will be made as to whether or not the closure is necessary. Who will make the decision and more importantly, how will this decision be communicated to employees?
- Are the contact details for all of your employees up to date?
- Can employees be issued with equipment that facilitates remote working from home? If so ISME has a policy on remote working available in the Members area here.
- How will the company respond with regard to payment in the event of a closure?
The measures SMEs should take are:
- Gather information on pandemic influenza and assign responsibilities for planning. Government advice is available here and advice from DBEI is available here.
- You will be asked about payment for workers self-isolating. This issue is dictated by issues such as the employee’s contract of employment, whether they are symptomatic, whether they have travelled from an at-risk area, or whether they have been in contact with such a person. You can get current information on entitlements here.
- Consult within your staff, customers and suppliers. If you have Asian suppliers, you need to talk to them immediately about their production and export plans.
- Understand what are the ‘high level’ impacts pandemic could have on your business, and prioritise the most impactful ones.
- Nominate deputies for the key personnel in all roles.
- Consider where you would be in a position to access contractors if your own workforce was to be significantly impacted.
- Develop a business continuity plan, brief your staff on that plan, and test it in exercises. Maximise the use of remote and flexible working. The DBEI provides a template here.
- Discuss contingencies with your accountant and your bank should there be significant impacts on your suppliers or your customers.
HSE Health Protection Surveillance Centre has the following information for the Business and Retail Sector. It is available HERE and they update it regularly.