The Coronavirus pandemic is already causing issues for many small and large businesses across the UK. From staff leave to a more regimented cleaning schedule, there are many things for businesses to navigate. With COVID-19 changing the way we live and work for the next few months, what can business owners do?

Limit travel

  • Government advice is to limit travel unless it’s considered essential. Now is not the time to send your employees to conventions and overseas meetings.
  • Where possible, arrange meetings through video conference. Telephone calls can be just as effective as a face-to-face conversation.

Consider remote working

  • If employees have the option to work from home, this should be encouraged.
  • There is currently no official advice regarding remote working, and you may want to avoid this option if it will decrease productivity, though you could reduce the spread of the virus by keeping staff away from public transport and busy office environments.
  • This might be a good time to re-evaluate your position on remote working options for employees.

Taking payments

  • Where possible, encourage your customers to use contactless payment methods. That way, they don’t need to enter their PIN on a handheld device.
  • Clean and sanitise payment terminals regularly. Provide customers with access to hand sanitiser that they can use after touching card terminals.
  • Staff should also be provided with sanitising products. Many will still be handling cash, and touching products handled by customers.
  • Contactless payments by card, phone or smartwatch are the safest options at this time.

Know the sick leave rules

  • Anyone that’s self-isolating due to symptoms, or has been diagnosed with COVID-19, is entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. This is now payable from Day 1 of sick leave, not Day 4 as it previously was.
  • Your staff can obtain a sick note by calling 111, rather than visiting their GP.
  • If you have fewer than 250 employees, the cost of SSP will be met by the government for up to 14 days per person. Details of how to claim this money back will be released by the government shortly.

Be aware of supply and demand

  • Many of your products may be coming from outside of the UK. Be prepared for shipping delays and cancellations. You may have times when products are out of stock.
  • Also expect a reduction in consumer spending. Customers may not buy as many non-essentials as they usually would, which could lead many businesses to see a reduction in profit.
  • Plan ahead, with potential stock problems in mind. How will you address these if they develop and what alternative plans are in place?
  • With the Chancellor announcing in his 2020 Budget that up to 1/5 of the workforce could be taking sick leave at once, it is the responsibility of every business owner to protect their employees, their customers and their business by following best practice.