How do I plan for the end of lockdown is the $64,000 question when there is very little solid information out there. The Prime Minister’s announcement on 10 May 2020 hasn’t really changed that either! One thing we’re fairly certain about is that no business will look the same at the end of lockdown as it did at the start.
Where to start?
GoBankingRates polled a wide range of experts and collated the top predictions that business owners should be watching for, the shoots of recovery. The top 4 to look out for
- Unemployment and claims for benefits falling
- Consumers spending by choice
- B2B spending increasing
- A vaccine cure for COVID19
What do we know?
The problem with these indicators is that they are inevitably not reported real time with any certainty. The Office of National Statistics is compiling some data on a weekly basis which makes interesting reading. We know from their research that
- 76% of businesses surveyed have continued trading in April 2020 but 24% of them reported their turnover had decreased by more than half (30% had been unaffected)
- 42% of all businesses had deferred their VAT payments
- 84% of adults have not left their home or have only left their home for permitted reasons in April
- the decline in the number of ships entering British ports is continuing
- the number of adults self-isolating is starting to reduce (latest figures 30% down from 38% in mid April 2020
- fewer people are working from home (45% rather than 49% in early April)
- the Guardian newspaper is reporting that British households will have £43bn less money to spend on essentials in April to June 2020 with disposable income 17% less in the second quarter of 2020.
- the Department of Work and Pensions showed that 950,000 people applies for Universal Credit in the second half of March 2020
- the Office for Budget Responsibility estimate that 2.1 million could lose their jobs in the second quarter of 2020
So how do I plan for the end of lockdown?
Try to establish the “knowns” for your business. We “know”
- we’re likely to have to preserve the practicalities of social distancing and hygiene for a long time after the lifting of restrictions. How can you implement these in your workplace?
- making people redundant costs money, even more so if you don’t carry out the redundancy correctly
- furlough continues until at least the end of June 2020 so providing the employee qualifies you can still claim for 80% or £2,500 of their pay
- bringing someone off furlough before the minimum 3 week period means that you won’t be able to reclaim the 80% of their wages
- employees have up to two years to take 20 days of their accrued leave in 2020 so there is no rush to make people take their leave if you need them to help get your business back up and running
If we don’t know we need to try to find out
- which of your workforce is going to find it difficult to return to work whilst schools are shut? How will you deal with their work and their situation especially if funded furlough leave comes to an end?
- which tasks, not people, are key critical to keeping the business going and helping support the business as it recovers? Consider categorising the tasks as first priority, second priority etc
- which posts are responsible for those first priority tasks now? How many of these posts do you have?
- how much work is there for those posts to do?
- if there is less work than the number of posts you’ll need to develop a plan. How long do you think it will take you to get back to 100% capacity? If the answer is after the 30 June 2020 you may feel that you must consider some decisions that permanently reduce the number of posts you need. Take professional advice on how best to go about this with least risk.
- if there’s more work than the number of posts, consider talking to employees that undertake other work. Ask them if they’ll help out by taking on other duties and responsibilities either in the short or long term. Take professional advice on this. Contractual changes and how to achieve them can make the business vulnerable to claims.
- if employees need to be trained they can undertake training whilst furloughed. There are a number of online training courses that have been developed specifically to address this need.
Too many employees at the moment?
Check out the different options, redundancy, furlough and lay off
Thinking about redundancies?
No-one wants to go down this path but sometimes it’s necessary to enable the business to survive. Beware that you must be confident that you are dealing with a genuine redundancy.
Bearing in mind that if you’re considering making more than 20 people redundant, consultations must last at least 30 days so you may need to start the ball rolling now. More than 100 people and you’ll need to allow 45 days.
If you have pregnant workers or employees on maternity leave there are extra considerations for employers.
There’s a lot to think about. If you need a confidential sounding board to answer the question, “how do I plan for the end of lockdown?”, give us a call on 01706 565332. We’re happy to help.
Metis HR is a professional HR consultancy based in North West England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing HR advice and outsourced HR services. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may be able to help you or drop us an email