Important Questions answeredOn 23 March the Government stepped up measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus and save lives. Employers who have people in their offices or onsite should ensure that employees are able to follow Public Health England guidelines including, where possible, maintaining a 2 metre distance from others, and washing their hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).
Do I have to close my business premises?
You may have to. Certain businesses and venues outlined by the Government are required to close their premises. A list of these businesses and some exceptions are listed here.
Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with Government guidance. Online retail is still open and encouraged and postal and delivery services will run as normal.
What do I have to do if I am allowed to keep my business premises open?
Just because you can remain open it doesn’t mean you must remain open. All staff should work from home, where possible.If you are authorised to remain open and choose to do so then the extra hygiene and social distancing guidance should always be followed.
Guidance for Employers and Businesses on Coronavirus Covid 19
All staff with Covid-19 symptoms should self-isolate at home and not go to work. This also applies if anyone they live with has symptoms.In such cases your member of staff is entitled to statutory sick pay: Guidance - Sick Pay
Remaining open and failing to follow social distancing regulations, a business will open itself up to both fines and compensation from employees for ill health and/or potentially the ill health or death of vulnerable relatives.
Remember, the Police have power to issue fines if businesses premises remain open when they are supposed to be closed.
What if I close my business premises?
If your business or organisation can continue to operate with employees working from home then you should do so and you should close your business premises.
If you are unable to operate remotely, then you need to ensure staff are treated fairly.
Businesses impacted by Covid-19 are eligible for financial support from the Government for “furloughed employees”. These are employees who remain on the payroll who are unable to operate or have no work to do: Guidance - Furloughed Workers
What if I have to reduce my workforce?
If you have make staff redundant it is vital to follow the correct procedures, including the correct redundancy consultation process if you are to avoid a finding of unfair dismissal at an Employment Tribunal. To ensure you follow the correct procedures it is advisable to take legal advice.
Call our Employment Practices Support Line
If your C-Quence policy includes our Employment Practices Liability (EPL) cover module, you can call our Employment Practices advice line +44 (0)20 7220 5295 for guidance on how to proceed with any employment or work force issues you may face.
What Financial Support am I eligible for?
There are a number of support measures offered by the Government that are constantly being updated.At the time of writing these included:
- deferral of VAT, Corporation Tax and PAYE payments
- support for Furloughed Employees up to 80% of their salaries (capped at £2,500pm)
- 12 month removal of business rates for businesses in the hospitality and leisure industry
- grants for small businesses
- government backed loans
The Government also offers specific support for Frontline Charities and innovative Start-ups
How do I keep my unoccupied Business Premises Secure?
Useful advice on security is available from the National Business Crime Centre - click here.
How do I maintain IT Security and Data Protection when staff are working from home?
The unique cybersecurity challenges surrounding remote working in the current environment — the widening of network access points to your business systems and the reliance on unsecured home Wi-Fi networks and devices increase the likelihood of a cyber breach.
Your business’s IT security will need to be carefully considered as any compromise may enable sensitive customer or financial data to be stolen.
Phishing attacks are the most common method of breaching your IT security so staff working from home should be told to be especially cautious when opening suspicious emails and any attachments.You should continually reviewsystems and procedures designed to secure remote working (e.g., authentication, monitoring & firewalls).
Guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre can be found here.
Other useful information: www.fsb.org.uk/campaign/covid19
Please be reassured that C-Quence is fully operational and all staff are working to support you and your Broker.
These materials do not constitute legal advice.