It is hard to escape the mixed messages of what to do regarding COVID19. Some experts say to carry on as usual but others advise to begin self-isolation for an illness like a common cold.
Although countries like China and South Korea are beginning to see a decrease in the spread of COVID-19, our European neighbours are facing quite the opposite. With over 2500 cases in Spain, Germany and France and over 12400 cases in Italy, the threat of coronavirus is beginning to become an issue that we should be concerned about.
Around Europe, governments are beginning to put sanctions in place to stop the spread of the disease, France has closed a number of schools and Italy has placed 60 million people into lockdown. Worryingly for UK based businesses, Boris Johnston has proposed if the infection was to continue spreading, they would close all schools and universities to help delay the spread.
The COVID-19 disease has caused a tenth person to die in the UK, with over 800 confirmed cases. There have been various suggestions on what can be done to help delay the spread of the coronavirus in the UK. Sporting events like the Premier League and 6 Nations have been postponed, festivals and large gatherings may be delayed, but most worryingly businesses, schools and universities may be set to close for 2 months. The Chief Medical Officer of England released a statement saying, “schools might have to shut, for quite a long period of time, probably more than two months.”
With a potential nationwide closure of schools on the horizon, brings the other issue of childcare. Experts believe flexible working conditions for employees could help solve this issue, but for how long can companies allow staff to work from home and more importantly, how will businesses in retail and manufacturing be able to take advantage of a working from home situation?
Although there is no obligation for businesses to offer flexible working, business owners must begin to understand the external pressures that COVID-19 could cause. Victoria Brown, HPC CEO states, “… this is a difficult period for both business and familiy. The pressures coronavirus can put on family’s needs to be considered when enforcing regular working contracts. Allowing temporary working from home (when applicable) is important”
But for how long can flexible working or time off from work due to COVID-19 last? If the virus continues to spread and become a further issue, it may not be feasible for businesses to afford to pay employees to work remotely. Staff productivity and engagement whilst at home could also begin to become an issue.
With the closure of schools looking more likely, businesses thoughts must turn to how to deal with this situation. Some actions that could be put into place are;
If these measures become outdated or are no longer feasible, a more drastic strategy may need to be put into place, for example;
Larger companies may have the infrastructure in place to be able to deal with issues like the COVID-19 virus, but for many SME’s in the UK the virus could cause large profit losses or at worst closure.
HPC advises it is best to be proactive rather than reactive. It is best to have a business continuity plan in place for all outcomes of the COVID-19.
If you would like further advice on what steps you should take to protect your business and employees, please contact us using the links below.
COVID19 Business Funds Available by Jon Davies Accountants – https://www.jondaviesaccountants.co.uk/coronavirus-what-help-is-available-for-your-business/
Further GOV.UK advice – https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response