Talk of coronavirus and how it will affect the UK – its people and its economy – is on the increase. With so many predicted to contract the virus, it’s likely that businesses will be affected to some extent at least. Latest figures are suggesting that up to a fifth of UK workers could be off sick at the peak of the outbreak (although this is a most likely a worst case scenario).
The important thing at this stage is doing what we can now to minimise any potential disruption. Ok, we can accept that business may not boom; but we can take steps to keep things ticking over at the very least.
In our view, the number one thing employers can do is look at arrangements for home-working if these aren’t already in place (for roles where this is possible, of course). Try to have a plan in place so that as many of your employees as possible can transfer from office working to home working. Having staff work from home will help to contain the spread of the virus, therefore diminishing the overall impact and knock-on effect.
Working from home may also be necessary for staff with caring responsibilities – so at least if they can’t come in to work because someone in the household has the virus, they can still be productive (or semi-productive) whilst at home.
Some general steps you can take in the office are:
~Convene a core working group to coordinate efforts; and ensure all actions and outcomes of this group as cascaded down throughout the company
~Make sure all staff contact details are up to date
~Make sure all relevant HR policies are up to date
~Make sure managers know how to spot the symptoms of the virus and put a procedure in place for if they do (ie. head home without having any further contact with any other staff members)
~Ensure there are sufficient handwashing facilities available to all staff, as well as hand sanitiser (if possible – there is a shortage at present) and tissues
~Reconsider all travel planned for the foreseeable future – is it necessary or could it be postponed? This is where video conferencing comes into its own!
ACAS have published detailed guidelines on sick pay as well as lots of workplace-related FAQs.
If you think you could use an interim HR resource to coordinate the people-piece whilst this is all ongoing, we can help. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact your local office to find out more.