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Secure workplace guidance will have major impact on business

21 May 2020: implementing the government’s COVID-19 secure workplaces guidance will have a significant effect on how many English businesses operate, and on their bottom line, a new survey from ICAEW has revealed.

ICAEW’s member poll highlighted that 43% of businesses in England believe that following the new workplace guidelines will have a ‘significant impact’ on how their business will operate, with a further 44% of members stating it would change the way their company operated, but ‘not significantly’

However, almost a quarter (24%) said the financial implications of enacting the recommendations would be significant, with exactly half (50%) saying it would ‘moderately’ impact their bottom line. 

The government last week released guidance for a range of workplaces on how to restart their businesses after lockdown while ensuring employees and customers remain as safe as possible. A number of common themes run through each piece of guidance, including the need to maintain social distancing of two metres where possible, cleaning more frequently and carrying out coronavirus risk assessments to see what measures are needed.

Almost half (44%) of workplaces profiled in the ICAEW research had enacted a 100% shutdown, with a further 40% reporting ‘most’ or ‘some’ places of employment had been closed. A third of organisations that had shut their workplaces were not considering reopening them in light of the guidelines, the survey found. 

The online survey took the pulse of senior member sentiment working in larger businesses with a minimum of 250 employees, with a majority of respondents employing more than 1,000 staff.

Commenting on the results Michael Izza, ICAEW Chief Executive, stated that the physical world of work has been transformed.

“These results underscore how many organisations across different sectors have shuttered their workplaces and moved to a remote working model,” said Izza.

“It is unsurprising to hear from members that a third of businesses in England who had closed premises are not yet thinking about re-opening them – echoing government’s recommendation that employees should continue to work from home if possible,” he continued.

“There is widespread recognition that coping with the risk of COVID-19 will involve cost for businesses and changes to the way they operate. Businesses now want to understand how the Job Retention Scheme will be phased out, so they can make key decisions for the future. 

“Government worked hard to listen to businesses and unions on the practical implications of making workplaces safer and the guidance issued last week has been well-received. Local dialogue between employers and with staff is the key to returning to the workplace.” 

Interviews and polling were conducted over the past seven days.