Business support organisations
The Confederation of British Industry
“What you need to know about coronavirus and how it will impact your business”. This includes the very influential and highly regarded daily webinars hosted by Director General Dame Carolyn Fairburn.
The Entrepreneurs’ Forum
Links to valuable resources collected by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum team as requested by its members and partner network, including on People, Finances, Physical and Mental Wellbeing, Technology and Leadership.
Billed as containing “all the UK government information in one place”, this resource includes information on access to finance, employees, planning and leadership, Growth hub toolkits, and working from home.
Newcastle Gateshead Initiative (NGI)
Businesses across the UK and around the world are sharing their expertise in everything from remote working to business planning. The team at NGI have collated some of the most useful resources, alongside its own content which is designed to help partner organisations and other businesses across North East England.
North East of England Chamber of Commerce
The NEECC brings together its latest advice and guidance for businesses, as well as some of its own FAQs.
Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce
The Chamber has pulled together information about how it and others in the area are supporting all businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak.
North East Growth Hub
The North East Growth Hub toolkit is intended to provide businesses with the latest advice, guidance and support available from government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics covered include:
- Financial support available for businesses
- Official guidance for employees, employers and businesses
- Advice on effective home working
- How to care for staff/suppliers/customers and prevent the spread of COVID-19
Links to valuable resources collected by the Pro-Manchester team, including national Government support and advice, regional support and cyber security advice.
The Innovation SuperNetwork, a “network of networks”, detail on their website what their team of Innovation Managers are offering during these difficult times, as well as details of funding available, and what is being offered by their numerous partners.
As the coronavirus outbreak continues to develop, we have seen many countries begin to implement emergency procedures and legislation in an attempt to control the spread of the disease.
These have included bans on gatherings and public events, closures of shops, bars, restaurants and public spaces, and full lockdowns which restrict all but key workers to their homes except in certain limited circumstances.
This has a direct impact on businesses and their ability to operate. So what happens if a contract becomes impossible to perform because of emergency legislation?
- If you are a hospitality business, you have agreed to host an event, and gatherings are prohibited
- If you are a manufacturer or service provider, and your staff are required to remain at home, making performance of the contract impossible
An extension to the traditional business interruption insurance, “contingent business interruption insurance” often covers areas such as business interruption due to damage to property of a customer or suppliers. Nonetheless, proving loss can be problematic.
Claims for loss of use of the property may be possible as a result of forced business closure due to lockdown. Accordingly policies should be carefully reviewed to see if cover is available.
You should speak to your advisors. We do not know presently how existing petitions will be dealt with by the Court. We do know that if any winding up order is made (based on a petition presented after 27 April), it could be found to be void and a creditor may face challenges. Even for petitions presented before 27th April, there is a risk that the Court will not be keen to make a winding up order so it is important that you look at the facts of your debt and weigh up all of the factors before deciding how to proceed.
Increased hygiene measures should be introduced to limit the spread of infection. Increase the frequency of cleaning, particularly higher risk contact points such as door handles. Avoid the use and sharing of hardcopy in favour of electronic documents; avoid sharing of tools and work equipment; increase the availability of handwashing facilities and hand sanitisers; issue anti-bacterial wipes and tissues to staff, and remind everyone to maintain good personal hygiene practices, including regular hand washing. Prominent and repeat signage will be vital in reminding workers of these steps they can take to protect themselves.
PPE – e.g. disposable gloves and face masks – are not currently legally required in the UK, but especially where social distancing might not be possible, it may be necessary to make appropriate PPE available to staff. If so, you will need to make sure there is enough available train everyone so it used properly and provide for safe disposal of used items.
MOST IMPORTANTLY – communicate with your people; invite their input and suggestions and act on them. Communication and participation in the process of a safe return to work are going to be crucial to its’ success.
Monitor for illness: train managers how to spot the symptoms of COVID-19 and have a clear process if someone is potentially infected. Continue to remind staff to only come into work if they are well and not experiencing any symptoms. A number of businesses are planning on using testing and screening methods, such as temperature checks. Remember, these steps create data privacy considerations which you will need to consider.
Do not forget existing health and safety obligations, such as maintaining sufficient numbers of fire marshals and first aiders on-site. Employers should also be aware that the Health and Safety Executive must be notified under RIDDOR of any workplace incidents that lead to exposure to COVID-19 and any cases where there is “reasonable evidence” that it was caused by exposure in the workplace. Be aware that workers are being encouraged to report to HSE failures of their employers to keep them safe from the threat of the virus.
Those individuals who are already exempt from the existing face covering obligations, will continue to be exempt from the new rules. These include:
- Those unable to put on or wear a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or disability
- People for whom wearing or removing a face covering will cause severe distress
- Anyone assisting someone who relies on lip reading to communicate