Just as small businesses were beginning to feel optimistic after months of Brexit negotiations, the Coronavirus, COVID-19, hits the headlines.
The uncertainty of what will happen in the coming weeks and months is a prime concern for many businesses across the UK.
Stock markets have plummeted and industries such as travel and tourism, manufacturing and retail are already noticing a knock-on effect of the virus.
If the UK is to follow Italy’s path, then British businesses need to have measures in place to protect themselves during these turbulent times.
Rishi Sunak announced some measures to protect businesses in the latest budget which aim to support small businesses whose employees self-isolate if the outbreak increases.
Boris Johnson has already confirmed that Statutory Sick Pay will be paid from the first day of absence in a bid to prevent employees attending work with the virus and worsening the infection rate and more measures are to be announced today.
The government may even go one step further and re-introduce the Statutory Sick Pay rebate.
This was available for businesses up until 2014 and allowed smaller companies to claim a rebate on part of the cost of paying sick pay when the proportion of their staff who were absent passed a pre-determined threshold.
The Federation of Small Business has produced comprehensive advice and guidance on reducing the risks of disruption from the COVID-19 virus to businesses.
It covers areas such as:
- What to do if you suspect someone in your workplace has COVID-19
- Advice for employees who have travelled to specific areas
- Certification of absence for COVID-19
- Is your business plan up to date?
- What happens if you must close your business due to the outbreak?
- What if an employee refuses to work?
For more information on the Federation of Small Business CLICK HERE
ACAS, the independent public body which works with employees and employers to improve workplace relationships has also issued a checklist for businesses.
- Keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace
- Make sure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
- Make sure managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus and are clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case someone in the workplace develops the virus
- Make sure there are clean places to wash hands with hot water and soap, and encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly
- Provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff, and encourage them to use them
- Consider if protective face masks might help for people working in particularly vulnerable situations
- Consider if any travel planned to affected areas is essential
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