How to plan your organisation’s response to COVID-19

No business or organisation has gone unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic. It has disrupted companies in all sectors of industry and will have a long-term impact on how our workplaces operate and function.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has produced a guide to help businesses adapt and plan for the sweeping changes that will come into place as we slowly get back to work. It reiterates that employers have a statutory duty of care for people’s health and safety at work, and should do everything in their power to support people at this very challenging time.

Below is some helpful guidance to protect your employees and your business as lockdown restrictions are slowly lifted and people return to the workplace.

You can download the full guidance from CIPD by clicking here.

Protecting your workforce

Advice includes:

  • Ensure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date.
  • Make sure all staff are aware of the latest government advice and be clear about what you are doing to protect people’s health, and reduce the risk of infection spreading.
  • Advising employees to take precautions. This includes either working from home, or if your business is still open, reducing the spread of infection by providing soap / hand sanitiser gels.
  • Increase the frequency and intensity of office cleaning; consider a deep clean; think about frequent wiping down of communal spaces such as kitchens, handrails on stairs, lift buttons, door handles, etc.
  • Clearly communicate the financial support available for those employees who are ill with coronavirus, or are forced to self-isolate because of it. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) can now be paid from day one and government has introduced measures that allow businesses with 250 employees or less to reclaim two weeks of SSP paid for sickness absence. Special provisions (from 16 April 2020) also mean that employees who are unable to work because they are shielding are also entitled to SSP.

Protecting your business

  • Develop a contingency plan to prepare for the business impact of COVID-19. Helpful templates are available to download here.
  • Appoint a pandemic coordinator or team to prepare and update plans, and keep on top of official advice.
  • Think about transferrable skills – do you enough people to keep business-critical operations running if you do face staff shortages?
  • Encourage working from home, where possible. Consider making laptops available for staff that wouldn’t normally work from home and encourage team working / external meetings through video conferencing, etc.
  • If your business is permitted to stay open, or you are planning to reopen, consider creative resourcing solutions like staggering shifts or having A and B teams so fewer people are in the workplace at any one time.
  • Maximise self-service options to allow for social distancing.

Planning your short-term response

Ensure you’ve addressed the following key areas to reassure and support staff in the short term.

  • Sick leave and pay – confirm your approach and communicate it clearly with staff.
  • Remote working – support your teams to work from home, if possible. The CIPD has produced a series of remote working tips.

Planning your long-term response

Consider how the following areas may impact your business in the long-term, and how you can mitigate any negative impact by preparing now.

  • Employees who are carers – be supportive and provide flexibilility. Helpful advice for carers is available from Carers UK and Carers Trust.
  • Employees who are shielding – ensure these members of staff are supported to work from home, or placed on furlough.
  • Working parents – employers should do everything they can to support employees in working from home whilst caring for children and should offer as much flexibility and understanding as possible
  • Emergency volunteering – some employees are entitled to emergency volunteering leave. Find more details on gov.uk
  • Short-time and lay-off working – if your business is severely affected by the COVID-19 situation you may need to look at introducing temporary measures in order to protect the workforce and the business.
  • Redundancy – the normal legal provisions apply which mean that employers are required to take steps to avoid compulsory redundancies.
  • Insolvency – unfortunately some businesses may be forced into insolvency or cease trading altogether. The two main types of insolvency are liquidation and bankruptcy.
  • Bereavement leave/pay – review your bereavement policy (if you have one) and assess if you can be more generous. Be as flexible as you can about leave and pay for those directly affected by COVID-19.

Visit the The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) website to read more about how to manage your business’ response to COVID-19.