We cannot ignore the steady increase in the number of Covid cases in the UK in recent months, and the predicted ongoing surge in infection rates as the Winter months draw closer.
With that in mind UK health experts are now calling on the government to roll out its ‘Covid plan B’ to tackle the rise in England. But what exactly is Plan B and what could the implications be for employers if it is implemented?
What is Plan B?
Plan B ultimately reintroduces measures designed to control transmission of the virus. This would include mandatory vaccine-only Covid-status certification, face coverings in certain settings and potential requests for people to once again work from home if they can, for a limited period.
When will Plan B happen?
Although the government seems adamant that they are not considering introducing Plan B at the moment, they have made clear that if it does happen, changes will be implemented quickly. Many experts are suggesting the measures will be implemented within the next 4 weeks.
How will Plan B affect small businesses?
The main impact is that organisations are likely to have to return to home working measures if Plan B is instigated. However, as many companies now have the infrastructure in place to deal with changes to their employee working locations, and many also now have hybrid working policies in place, these will minimise any disruption such a government expectation could cause.
Business owners who are reluctant or unprepared to return to remote working should consider the current competitive labour market and the risk that they may well lose good people to other employers. We can imagine that there will be little patience or tolerance if business owners do not seem to care, or have a H&S plan in place, for working through a new lockdown.
How should business owners prepare?
In a nutshell; plan and communicate, communicate and plan! Anticipate Plan B happening, don’t wait to see if it will. Draft a strategy, talk openly and transparently with your teams and people. Get their feedback, their engagement and get them on board.
If home working is an option, it’s worth being aware that if you still do not have the contractual right to enforce changes to an employee’s working location (seriously… give us a call!) you will need to seek individual agreement to implement changes, and this is still a process that takes time.
If home working is not an option for your business, how will you ensure the continual safety of your staff and compliance with government guidance? Regularly reviewing the effectiveness of your Covid safety measures, amending where required and making informed risk-based decisions will ensure looking after your workers is a prominent business priority.
If you need more support with any aspect of this, give us a call!