The Covid-19 pandemic is a situation that none of us are likely to have ever faced before in business and whilst we now know how robust our business continuity plans (BCPs) are, how much have you started to think about the months and years ahead, as things develop?
I don’t believe for one second that firms will ‘get back to normal’ as the world has now changed forever and it’s important for us to recognise this and decide if we are going to use this situation to evolve our business models, or die wondering ‘what if’?
Successful, sustainable and flexible businesses are the backbone of our economy and specifically, our industry in:
By now, I would think that we have all begun to adapt to the challenges that come with working from home and communicating electronically/via video calling. Therefore, I won’t go into how we have come to deal with this in too much detail other than to suggest that if you’re looking for any help or suggestions on how to manage your days, keep your team motivated and enthused and how to look after your teams, please take a look at The Verve Group (@groupverve) Twitter account for some handy tips.
In view of the current situation, the FCA has clarified that it expects firms to implement staff working from home wherever possible. This applies to all FCA-regulated firms across the UK.
Each firm’s designated Senior Manager or equivalent should identify which of their employees are unable to perform their jobs from home. It is expected that the number of roles requiring attending the usual business premises will be far smaller than the number of attendees normally working from business premises.
Where possible, firms should facilitate employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working. The FCA expects that the following staff should be able to work from home, with very few exceptions:
There are obviously other issues and risks associated with having to adapt your existing business practices. Things like obtaining AML documentation or verification, clients signing documents, the security risks associated with your firm’s IT equipment being in people’s homes, data security, email encryption, webinar/video calling.
What had you already done as part of writing your business continuity plans to allow for these issues or what have you done since?
You will have no doubt heard by now that the Government promised to support businesses by paying 80% of employees’ salaries up to £2,500 per month. This wasn’t clearly explained at the time but further details are becoming available.
Details on this scheme feel quite scarce so I will summarise everything that we know so far…
This only applies where businesses are applying “Furlough” to their employees. This means that under normal circumstances, the employee in question’s role has become temporarily redundant but in these desperate times they remain in employment funded by the Government.
Our initial understanding is that employees take a 20% pay cut (subject to the £2,500 max which may mean higher cuts) then the 80% of their salary is fully paid by HMRC. We understand that employers could make a voluntary top-up (i.e. pay the 20%) but this is highly unlikely given the other Government measures such as 3-month mortgage holidays that would mean that employees with mortgages have reduced outgoings which preserves monthly disposable income. There is also now support for your employees in rented accommodation, click here to find out more.
Please note, any employee on more than £37,500 (£3,125 pm) will only receive £2,500 max salary support from the Government.
This means that: