I’m sure we all exhaled a collective sigh of relief when, on Easter Monday, the Prime Minister announced that the UK remains on track for its planned reopening of society to help the economy move forwards once again.
Now starts a rapid mobilisation period for those businesses that have been closed during the lockdown, while those who remained open must continue taking steps to protect their workforce and customers.
During this time, cash will be king, but many businesses will be locked into VAT deferral, Bounce Back Loans and CBILS repayments. Those who utilised loan facilities last spring may have already begun hearing from lenders as to when their repayments should be made, which will vary in its welcome depending on how your business acted at the start of the pandemic. Those who could pivot their offerings might have already prepared to make the repayments, but those who were forced to keep their doors closed might be feeling pressured when cash flow is required to purchase stock and pay employees. Anyone facing this dilemma should speak to our team for objective advice on tackling these next steps.
As a reminder, the furlough scheme is set to come to an end in September, so businesses should start thinking now about whether current staffing levels are required for the short and long term. If you find yourself with a surplus of staff and need to make redundancies, consider utilising these last few months of the furlough scheme well, using it for your employees’ notice period.
Heading back to the workplace after such an extended period at home will cause some anxiety amongst teams, coming as a big shock to the system for many. COVID-19 will leave a legacy of mental health issues and returning to the workplace looks set to fuel this further. Within previous communications, we offered advice on how employers can spot the signs that their people are struggling with their mental health or that other situations, such as domestic violence, are taking place at home. Though there is so much to consider as a business leader right now, people – their health, welfare and wellbeing – must be the priority and we encourage employers to look into extra services to support their teams through the transition of returning to work.
Finally, this month we’re looking at the risks to directors of limited companies and the personal liability against them for any business decisions they make. It’s a common misconception that if a company is incorporated, then its directors (and officers) are personally protected against all financial consequences. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We’re seeing allegations and claims against directors coming from ever widening sources with accusations of neglect, errors or omissions, misfeasance and mis-statements. This activity is only set to increase as the UK economy emerges from lockdown and the Government starts to withdraw support to businesses. John Jones, MD of Champion Professional Risks – a specialist division of our insurance arm, Champion Insurance Group – has shared his advice for people in this position, exploring how we can help you through this troublesome time.
All that remains to be said for now is that I hope you continue to take care of yourself and others, and that you’ve invested in a warm coat for those outdoor drinks we’re all looking forward to. They’re sure to offer some light respite after a dark winter.