Businesses need to remain agile and alert as coronavirus evolves

Where to go for information
World Health Organisation’s technical guidance – https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance

Government guidelines for employers and business – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

Government general guidance on the situation – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

Preserving and protecting the health and wellbeing of our clients, employees and community

It is clear that the coronavirus could be the biggest risk to the global economy since the 2008 financial crisis and while some industries will be more affected than others, all firms will feel the impact. This help page is based on the information we have at the time of publication and is designed as an aide memoir to assist with business thoughts and decisions.

Key focus areas for businesses

 

Workforce

Have measures been put in place to support hygiene and health for your employees, including restrictions to travel (both domestic and international) and advice on attending client meetings, site visits and events?

Is there a clearly communicated policy on what your people should do if they are feeling unwell? And what does it mean for if you suspect a case of coronavirus in your workplace?

Is your team able to work remotely if your office needs to close and/or do you need to change or re-enforce your working policies?

Customers and suppliers

Could there be unknown consequences for your business from the coronavirus outbreak? Is there a way you can plan for this and will you have the working capital to survive and then restart your business when activity picks back up?

Do you need to inform your clients and customers of any changes to your services? This could include different opening times and delays in deliveries or deadlines.

Do you have plans in place to ensure regular and clear communication to clients about your policies and updates on services? Perhaps websites, social media channels etc…

Do you have customers that will need extended terms from you and which suppliers might require different arrangements? Perhaps your suppliers should be engaged to determine how they can support you.

With international travel and export significantly impacted by the coronavirus have you assessed the strength of your supply chain and is it possible to have alternatives in place if you need to source alternative provision?

Tax

With coronavirus having an impact on your profits and cashflow, do you need extra time to pay any outstanding HMRC debt? Will you need to agree a bespoke Time To Pay arrangement with the government or could employee absence cause you to miss a deadline to file?

Will you be able to request a refund on additional statutory sick pay claimed by staff who are unable to work because of the virus? Can you get a loan or grant, or claim a business rates relief discount, to see you through the outbreak?

Audit

What will the impact be on your business, including credit availability and cash flow, supply chain, access and impact on your customers, workforce availability and access to any government support? Given the disruption, are you able to acquire the evidence and speak to who you need to remotely?

Will you be able to delay audit dates, or make arrangements for the effective audit using a virtual (off-site) approach? How will you reschedule, given the uncertainty of when the pandemic will end? Can deadlines be extended, particularly your filing arrangements?

Is your audit team still able to obtain sufficient audit evidence with restrictions to your premises and staff? How will the audit of any international operations/subsidiaries (components) be delivered to meet the requirements of auditing standards and regulation?

Are you able to bring stock takes forward to before travel bans are in place? Will management then be able to produce a roll-forward reconciliation and will we be able to audit that? How will this work?

Stakeholders

Do you need to pro-actively check in with your stakeholders during these difficult periods? Communicate with your financiers, shareholders, customers and employees early and often.

Insurance

Do you need to check your insurance coverage will protect you against losses from natural disasters? And could a successful claim be made against you under a business interruption or event cancellation policy?

Do you need assistance in quantifying the financial impact of a disruption?

Cash flow and financing

Are changes and delays to your service going to have an impact on your cash flow. Do you need to have discussions with clients or suppliers about renegotiating terms? Or do you have wider concerns regarding sustainability of the business.

Do you need to speak to your funding suppliers about additional funding and operational covenants for the next few months? Particularly if repayments are going to be missed.

This needs to be both an immediate consideration and also slightly longer term, for example, what will things look like in six months’ time?

Business continuity and risk

Do you have sufficient resources to outlast the pandemic and do you have space to store them? Are you prepared for shortages and price volatility in product and goods not for resale? This extends to cover both physical goods and also staffing requirements.

Do your business have a formal remote-working policy and is it effective in preventing cyber security risks? Are your employees clear on what that policy is and their possibility to remain occupational from home.

Does your IT network have the capacity for your whole team to work from home at the same time and do you know what the impact will be on your business if public schools close and your staff lose their childcare?

Will your support staff, including third-party teams, be able to cope with large numbers of absences and what is the requirement or possibility for other employees step in to support essential business processes?

Are your staff aware of what occupational health services are available to them and do you have the capital liquidity to pay out on any claimed benefits or ongoing salary requirements?

Are your communication channels sufficient and do your employees read and understand your messages?