It is currently impossible to avoid the news of the Covid-19 epidemic at the moment as the situation unfolds rapidly and becomes an increased risk of becoming a global pandemic. A pandemic is an issue that we in this country would be unlikely to have prepared for in a business sense and as a result we may see this virus affect our business landscapes in ways we may not have expected. As cases begin to grow in number and community transmission begins to become more apparent, it is important for businesses to have a plan in place for keeping their employees safe.
The Government have recently published an income support and economic stimulus package which outlines the following main points for companies who may find themselves on lock down or needing to self-isolate their staff or work from home or to reduce economic impact:
- The 6 waiting days for sick pay with a medical cert will be waived.
- The means test requirement for Supplementary Welfare Allowance for medically certified self-isolation will be removed.
- Self-employed individuals will now be entitled to receive either illness benefit, or non-means tested supplementary welfare allowance.
- A €200million liquidity support fund will be available for impacted firms.
- The existing systematic short time working scheme is available for employees who may be placed on reduced working arrangements.
On a more global scale, it has been reported that businesses worldwide are changing and adapting practises to better cope with Covid-19. Many companies in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States have immediately implemented travel restrictions or a work from home policy for the foreseeable future in order to avoid community transmission within the office space. Unfortunately, these issues will naturally cause service issues for some.
From looking at the China model which involves the businesses who were first hit and continue to deal with the fallout of the virus, a few key pointers for other businesses worldwide have been outlined:
- Plan ahead but be prepared for the need to be adaptable as the situation develops.
- Keep employees informed consistently so that they feel safe and protected.
- Relocate labour where possible. In situations where employees can work from home to prevent community transmission this can be effective as well as social distancing practises in roles that can not be completed at home.
- Utilise social media and shift some operations to an online system where possible.
- Prepare for recovery be it fast or slow moving.
- Look for the positive points and identify where your business can improve in the face of adversity.
- Use the situation to become more innovative and embrace innovation within your business and your employees. Thinking on your feet is essential in such a fast moving constantly unfolding landscape of change.
This will undoubtedly be a period of unease and difficulty for many on both a business and personal level, but through following the appropriate guidelines we can endeavour to keep all feeling safe.