We are seeing a heavy call volume to the office regarding Covid19, and its impact on business. The main queries fall into just a few categories:
Try to work as flexibly as you can with your staff to minimise the impact of this.
- If you haven’t yet made a plan, it’s not too late, and a template is available here:
- ISME has an editable version available here
- ISME has a policy on remote working available in the Members area here.
- Has the company conducted a full Risk Assessment? Members can access assessments here.
There is so much false or misinformed information going around, therefore it is essential that you inform yourself and your business from official sources.
The essential sites for you to follow are:
- HSE Covid19 page:
- Government Covid19 page:/ (including travel advice)
- Department of Business and Enterprise page:
Returning to work:
· ISME’s guide to a HSA Workplace Inspection, HERE
· NSAI guidance on workplace improvement and protection, HERE
· The National protocols on returning to work, HERE
· HSA guidance on COVID-19 and the workplace HERE
· ISME Employee Declaration template HERE
· ISME COVID-19 Risk Assessment template HERE
Laying off staff:
If you need to lay off staff or reduce their working week, there is a formal process for doing so HERE. Be aware that the employee has a number of options as to how they accept such a notification, including claiming redundancy: Therefore you need to consider your options if you are about to lay off staff, especially those with longer service who could trigger a substantial redundancy payment. Where it is necessary to place staff on a three-day week, you should draw their attention to the DEASP to avail of short-time work support:
ISME have a number of templates to assist with this:
- Change in terms and condition template
- Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme - Tax liability letter
- Redundancy Letter - At Risk
- Template Letter for Redundancy and payment
- Lay Off Notification
- Short Time Notification
- Collective Redundancy
- Protective Notice (This template can be used in situations where employers wish to communicate to employees that they expect people to be made redundant/temporarily laid off/moved to short time unless there is a change in circumstances, however it is only used in the context of providing information to employees to alert them to the prospect of a change and is not a legal protection. Should an employer opt to implement one of the above options written notice of same should be issued in writing to each employee
No matter how well we manage Covid19 in the workplace, most businesses will experience cashflow issues in the near future, and many are suffering right now. It is necessary to plan for decisive action now. Don’t keep the head down and hope it works out. Get ahead of it. Talk to the Revenue now, and if necessary, ask for an Online Phased Payment Facility:
Talk to your accountant, and seek advice. Talk to your insurance broker about your cover for business continuity, event cancellation, or other cover. We understand that exclusions exist on many policies for ‘notifiable diseases’ so this may not work. Talk to your bank about increased short-term funding, or payment holidays on mortgages, etc. Talk to your creditors about more relaxed repayments if required- but remember- if everyone tries this, we all run out of cash, quickly. It is likely, if this continues, that there will be a serious reduction in liquidity. All areas of the travel & hospitality sector are experiencing massive declines in income right now.
ISME, and all trade associations, have alerted DBEI to the likelihood that serious interventions such as PAYE/PRSI/USC/VAT and rates deferrals will be required. (The UK pulled many micro businesses out of the rates net in their budget).
WORKING CAPITAL SUPPORTS
ISME is not satisfied with the working capital supports provided so far, and we are looking for a much more aggressive intervention by Government to introduce liquidity. For now, the working capital support schemes are as follows:
- MicroFinance Ireland provides COVID-19 loans of up to €50,000. The terms include a six months interest free and repayment free moratorium, with the loan to then be repaid over the remaining 30 months of the 36-month loan period. Loans are available at an interest rate of between 6.8% and 7.8%. Details are available here.
- The Credit Guarantee Scheme supports loans up to €1 million for periods of up to 7 years. Applications can be made to AIB, Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank. Eligibility criteria apply, and details are available here.
- The SBCI COVID-19 Working Capital Scheme for eligible businesses supports loans from €25,000 up to €1.5 million (first €500,000 unsecured) with a maximum interest rate of 4%. Details are available here
EMPLOYEE WELLBEING DURING COVID-19
Looking after your employee’s welfare has never been so important as during Covid-19. While many employees are working remotely, or have been placed on temporary layoff, the employer’s duty of care still remains in place. Looking after employee wellbeing at arm’s length poses a unique set of challenges. This guide is intended to help employers navigate these challenges.There are a number of areas of wellbeing an employer can support during this difficult time. Our full guide is available here