Please note: This news item has now been superseded by more detailed guidance for employers issued by Department for BEIS on Monday 11th May which can be found here

Following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation yesterday evening (Sun 10th May, transcript here) I received many messages asking my opinion on what that meant for xx business or yy business and I think that the following must be possible before a business is ready to re-open:

  1. If your staff can work from home, they must continue to do so, and subject to (3) below, they should be removed from furlough in the near future.  At the time of writing, the Chancellor has said the furlough scheme will end on 30th June and we are awaiting his next statement where he will set out how he intends it will taper off, possibly only for some businesses
  2. If your staff need to travel to work (eg to a factory or engineering plant) they should return to work if:
    • you can be sure that you have considered their safety in your business premises, considering issues such as social distancing of working and common areas such as canteens or WCs, possible shift changes or staggered working patterns, PPE and hand washing/sanitising facilities, reducing the need to touch surfaces such as wedging doors open and a schedule of deep cleaning
    • you can be sure that your staff can travel to work safely in their own vehicles, by foot/cycle or on public transport which will allow for social distancing
    • you can be sure that your staff do not have caring or childcare responsibilities which they cannot meet if they are out of the home, or that they are not in the high-risk category who should be shielding
    • you can be sure that you are able to serve customers or receive supplies/deliveries on your premises if necessary, whilst taking their safety into account with social distancing
    • you have communicated their requirement to ensure they are symptom-free before entering the workplace and to self-isolate at home if they or a member of their family shows symptoms (SSP will be paid to them in these instances from day 1 of their quarantine)
  3. That you have a strategic plan and a financial projection which includes all your additional costs, your cashflows for making payments and a credit control process for collecting in money which is owed to you and you believe, with an assumption for the level of trade, that you have sufficient cash runway (before you run out of cash or finance facilities) to withstand the reduction in employees for whom you are claiming furlough grants

There has been some good advice from health and safety experts which is for employers to do a Covid-19 risk assessment, publish it so that employees and stakeholders feel safe and consider how to ensure it is enforced.

More detail is expected from the Prime Minister when he addresses the House of Commons around 3.30pm on Monday afternoon so the advice in this article may be withdrawn following that.

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