The Government’s three-step plan to ease lockdown and get Britain back to work is well underway, with the latest announcement that high street shops, department stores zoos and safari parks can reopen on Monday the 15th June 2020.
This will be welcome news to many employers who need to get their businesses up and running. However, the initial euphoria will be replaced with the realisation that it is not entirely good news for two reasons.
As a business owner, you need to know if you are on the exempt list and can open, or on the list of businesses that must remain closed. The list of businesses that should remain closed and those that are exempt and thus can open is continually being revised, we have included a link for you to follow to obtain the latest listing which you can view here.
The ability for the Government to allow further businesses to open remains linked to the five tests being met, one of which is the R value you would have all heard about. If the virus reproduction number remains below 1 and is reducing easing of lockdown should continue, however, if it starts to increase or goes above 1 the easing of lockdown and the opening of more businesses will be curtailed.
Business owners will need to approach their initial relief of being able to open their business with caution. As you review your return to work plan, you may identify the need for redundancies. This is the case in many businesses and is well publicised in the media at present with unemployment rates predicted to be as high as 15%.
If you move people off of furlough to return whilst also identifying the need to reduce staff levels there is a detailed process to follow for managing redundancies. It is important to balance the two actions to ensure you are receiving maximum benefit from government support through the Coronavirus Retention Scheme and limiting your liabilities as an employee, which means following the right process. In doing so it is important to be aware of the traps to avoid with COVID-19 redundancies.
In addition, any business returning or opening need to do so in a responsible way, following the Government guidelines and creating a COVID-19 secure business environment. Social distancing guidance for staff, suppliers and customers create a significant requirement to pre-plan and present the workplace or Business premises in a way that demonstrates your commitment to satisfy your duty of care. Importantly business leaders and managers need to create confidence in your response to Covid-19 at work, for the benefit of all those who work within your business so they focus on adding value and work-related matters, whilst also providing suppliers and customers with a safe business to visit.
See our Return to Work Safely Toolkit guidance and webinar videos for further information.
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