Update regarding Covid-19 (Coronavirus)
This is a clearly a fast moving situation for us all. Understandably all businesses are concerned and we await further guidance from Government and Health authorities.
In the meantime, we felt that sharing some broad principles and options about how to manage the impact of Covid-19 for your workforce would be helpful. It feels like we’re in unchartered territory so I will stay across the latest Government advice and keep you all informed accordingly in what is a fluid situation.
Whilst every business is different, we would encourage you to keep the following in mind with any decision you make.
- The first bit of advice we would give is to be honest and open with your teams about the scale of the challenge facing your business. This is not about scaring people, but it is about being clear about any steps the business will need to take to ensure financial sustainability during a very difficult and challenging period;
- One of the first considerations of business is how to reduce costs, especially if the order book or work is drying up; there can be a temptation to lay staff off, but do keep in mind that whilst we do not know the full timescales we do know this situation is temporary. We must be responsible and plan for the here and now, we do also need to consider the future and the retention of valuable skilled people within our business;
- Let’s always keep in mind the human impact of all of this. Yes there are some challenging decisions ahead, but how you address them will have a big impact on people’s commitment to your organisation. If you address them in an honest, open and compassionate way, you’re far more likely to secure people’s co-operation.
Specific options available to you:
A] you may wish to put a temporary halt on any new recruitment activity
B] if you have any agency workers you may wish to bring their current assignments to an end
C] remember to include any team members who may be off for various reasons e.g. due to sickness or maternity leave, in the flow of communication
D] If team members have outstanding holiday to use, then it might be a good idea to request that they take some paid leave short term, especially if orders and work-flow demand on businesses are reducing;
E] if team members do not have enough holiday, you can make special provision to draw some holiday early from the next year’s entitlement due to these exceptional circumstances;
F] as senior managers in the business, there is a real opportunity to lead from the front here. Adopting a mindset that ‘we all suffer a little rather than some people suffer a lot’ is likely to work best. As such, senior leaders may wish to take a temporary reduction in pay or participate in reduced work patterns to emphasise the shared responsibility for the current challenges;
G] where contracts have short term working arrangements and temporary lay-off clauses, these can be applied subject to discussions with the people affected. Short term temporary working patterns are nearly always preferable to any layoffs. This typically might mean a reduction in hours from full time, to say four or three days per week for a defined period of time, along with an equivalent reduction in salary;
H] if more urgent measures are required, you can agree a ‘furlough’ program with team members. This involves a period of unpaid leave being granted, to be agreed at times convenient for the business and team member;
I] clearly if any team members are sick or are self-isolating, then sick pay should be applied. The Government have adjusted the SSP rules so that it is payable from day one for self-isolation cases or confirmed Covid-19 cases. If your business pays contractual sick pay this should be applied;
J] depending on the nature of your business, where team members can work remotely or from home to maintain business continuity, this can be an excellent option at the present time.
Apex would suggest you check in regularly with the ACAS website, which is an excellent source of information and advice for business. It is updated regularly and you can access at https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
Also, the Government has committed to providing a daily coronavirus update which we will keep abreast of and advise you of anything we feel may have an impact on our valued clients and people we work with.
We hope this information is helpful. Should any additional relevant information become available, we will of course update you in due course.
Whilst these are challenging times, We are confident and optimistic we will get through this by working together.