New data reveals HR leaders’ Coronavirus preparedness

Survey reveals less than 10% of businesses had a workplace / HR policy in place covering a disease pandemic. Approximately 80% now have a policy, or plan to introduce one in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Leading law firm Lewis Silkin today announces the launch of a new benchmarking survey, mapping the preparedness and response strategies of UK HR decision-makers to the Coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak.

For its first survey of the series Lewis Silkin surveyed an initial group of 65 senior HR leaders and in-house counsel in organisations employing more than 200,000 employees between them and the findings are being presented now to help guide employers as they seek to effectively manage their workplace response to coronavirus.

This comes as the World Health Organisation has confirmed the status of the virus has been elevated to a Pandemic.

HR Policy

58.8% of respondents confirmed that they had implemented a workplace policy addressing pandemic disease in response to Coronavirus. 10% still plan to implement a policy while almost 11% still had no plans to implement a policy at the time of response. Less than 10% had a policy in place prior to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Business Travel

Employers are being cautious with regard to travel. Almost a quarter (24.2%) of respondents have restricted both international and UK domestic travel beyond FCO guidance and a further quarter (25.8%) have restricted international travel specifically beyond FCO guidance.

Remote Working & Self-Isolation

The vast majority (87.9%) of businesses are managing NHS-recommended self-isolation by requesting employees work from home. However, businesses are taking a nuanced approach with a combination of responses being used, including sick leave and sick pay (45.5%) and full pay without work or sick leave (16.7%). 51% of respondents are directing some employees to self-isolate as a precaution beyond government advice while a similar number are allowing employees to choose to self-isolate.

57.7% of polices reported by survey respondents cover employees should their care arrangements break down (such as school closures or family illness).

James Davies, employment partner at Lewis Silkin, commented: “These are unprecedented times and employers are having quickly adapt, evolve or scale up their workplace policies in response to Coronavirus. This is a fast-moving situation and businesses will need to collaborate and learn from each other in order to know how best to move forward, with the wellbeing of staff and business continuity very much front of mind. This is why we have launched this survey, to benchmark and monitor the best practice of some of the UK’s leading HR professionals, and we will continue to gather and disseminate helpful information and guidance to our clients and the wider business community wherever we can.”