The UK has now been in lockdown for almost three months, although there has been a slight easing of measures in recent weeks. Like many other companies, you have probably had to take a number of unusual steps to safeguard the future viability of your vaping business. You may have been forced to furlough employees or arranged for them to work from home. And you may now be preparing to reopen your doors to start trading from premises again.
It’s important that you get crisis management right. It means you can protect your vaping business and your employees. But you should also be aware of the legal risks of the decisions you’re taking, particularly when it comes to your employees.
What are the potential legal risks you could face?
The key factors you need to be mindful of with regards to your employees are:
Workers’ rights – Workers’ rights during the pandemic remain the same as before. Don’t lose sight of this when making business decisions. It’s important to think about the situation as a whole which is challenging and stressful for many.
For example, if you have made use of the government Job Retention Scheme and furlough some of your staff, you must consult with the employee and they must agree to be furloughed before you go ahead. Not doing so could leave you open to legal challenge.
Normal employment laws continue to apply. As do equality and discrimination laws.
Pay – if you plan to change an employee’s pay you need to think this through carefully. You must refer to employment contracts and normal employment law. There are also additional considerations around sick pay for those who are self-isolating or those that need to look after someone who is unwell.
Welfare – if you have employees who have been coming in to work you must pay special attention to their welfare. As an employer you must follow government guidance and Public Health advice. It’s important to carry out risks assessments to determine any hazards arising from Covid-19.
Health and Safety responsibilities – The HSE state employers have the same health and safety duties to those who work from home as they do for those who are office based. So, this is something that will need to be managed if you have people working from home. Anthony Jones consultant, Steve Green, gives his views on employers health and safety responsibilities during the coronavirus pandemic here.
Crisis management and contingency planning during Coronavirus
As we’ve already said, your first priority must be to the health and wellbeing of employees at this time.
Other areas to consider in your planning may include:
- Supply chains – how they are being impacted and alternative options if needed
- Operations – how your day to day operations are impacted and how you adhere to government guidance when you reopen
- Finances – how your finances are impacted, your cash flow and access to government loans and grants
- Communication – how you are keeping in touch with employees who may not currently be working
Read our recent blog on contingency planning for businesses for more information on this area and building a business continuity plan for your business.
You can also find the government advice to employers and businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic on the gov.uk website.
At Anthony Jones we know this is a difficult time for you, as it is for all of us. We are updating our blog regularly with areas to consider and thoughts from our senior team on different issues. We have continued to work throughout the pandemic so if you need to discuss your insurance needs with us then you can get in touch with us in the normal ways.