Guidance: Risk management & employment issues during a pandemic virus
11 March 2020
With the number of cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) escalating at a rapid pace in the UK and across the globe, employers must ensure they are prepared for any issues that will inevitably arise as the virus continues to spread.
AHR Consultants (AHR) have provided information on key business considerations during a pandemic virus. This includes how businesses can develop contingency plans to ensure the effects are minimised.
AHR is a leading provider in risk management and safety services, including HR, employment law and leadership training.
What do businesses need to consider?
Advance business continuity planning
It is important to review your business continuity and/or disaster recovery plans. Whilst you may already have a plan in place to deal with unforeseen crises and major incidents, such as a terrorist attack, it should be re-assessed. This is because most disaster recovery plans focus on managing a one-off major incident, whereas planning for a pandemic needs to take account of changed ways of working that may last for weeks or months.
Things to take into consideration include:
- What key departments or roles does your business need to function?
- Is there a ‘communications tree’ in place that can be utilised in the event of an outbreak?
- Will specific changes to policies and procedures be made, and how will this be communicated, in the event of an outbreak?
- Have you discussed your contingency plans with critical suppliers?
Workplace health and safety measures
Although a pandemic is a public health concern, it can have indirect health and safety consequences which impact on the duties placed on you under health and safety legislation.
The full document from AHR includes general guidance from The Health and Safety Executive guidance on preventing the spread of the virus in the workplace and controlling the spread of it if an employee contracts it.
During a pandemic it is likely that your workforce could be seriously depleted. Businesses should plan to handle absence rates of 12% or more over the peak period of pandemic (in addition to normal levels of employee absence). This could include employees who:
- Have contracted the virus
- Are looking after partners or dependents who have contracted the virus
- Have children who cannot attend school or nursery, because the school has been forced to close as a result of the virus
- Are afraid to attend or travel to work for fear of catching the virus
- Cannot get to work because of severe disruptions to public transport caused by the virus.
AHR provide further information on the employment laws and guidance surrounding each of these circumstances, and advice on how to mitigate the effects on your business from staff absence due to a pandemic.
For more details about how to respond to a pandemic, such as COVID-19, please download the full guidance from AHR.