With the real risk of a pandemic affecting Ireland with the coronavirus spreading across countries and borders, SMEs in Ireland will hopefully not be affected but should be aware of the risks and have a plan ready. With no vaccine as yet developed and over 16 countries now affected, Deloitte issued some excellent advice which we have developed to work for Irish SMEs:
- Have a plan of action ready to implement:
If an employee is potentially infected and needs to be quarantined, you need to consider what to do with all your other employees. Recruiting firm, Indeed recently announced that they are asking all their employees to work from home for 14 days following a potential risk with an international employee – can you plan for this? Obviously if your business is in hospitality, retail or manufacturing this just isn’t an option. However, thinking about potential options to contain the virus is a responsibility all employers need to be thinking about and preparing for. Do you know what hospital near you is capable of providing quarantine if the need arises etc.?
- Analyse your RISK:
Assess your potential risk – do you have international employees, employees travelling across Europe/Asia, do you have clients/customers who are based in China etc?
By undertaking a risk analysis you will have a good idea if you need a detailed plan of action, and how in depth this needs to be.
Consider your responsibilities to all your employees – your employees will expect that you are an employer who is determined to provide a safe working environment for them.
If you have business with Asia do you have distribution channels that are at risk?
Even if your risk as an organisation is VERY small, your employees will really appreciate knowing that you have considered this, and that you have a potential plan should any risk be identified. Don’t assume that your employees know you have this under control – communicate with them and keep channels of communication open.
- Policy reviews:
Have you considered if your travel policy is sufficient – companies need to be constantly monitoring WHO and the Department of Foreign Affairs guidelines? You may need to appoint a manager to take this responsibility on.
Have you reviewed all your suppliers and the potential risks? You could find that a small supplier who is critical to your business is actually shipping their products from China – what is the potential impact to your business if there is a delay in your supply chain?
- Employee Details:
Review the accuracy of your employee details – if you have international or foreign employees do you have the correct next of kin details – are their contracts and visas up to date? Do an audit to ensure that you have accurate information.