Has Your Cashflow Caught Coronavirus?
Following the recent Government press conference on Coronavirus, every business should be reviewing and updating its risk management plan to account for likely staff absences due to self-isolation and illness.
Lots of businesses have a continuity plan in place for fire or flooding. But what about when a high percentage of staff are off sick?
The Government warns that more than six million people could end up off work with coronavirus so how are you changing the way your business operates to cope?
People are being asked to self-isolate after returning from affected areas, including quarantined Italian towns (at the time of going to press) despite not having any symptoms.
Should an employee in isolation, in good health and without symptoms be paid?
The Health Secretary has announced that those in self-isolation should be entitled to sick leave. This has an immediate effect on your cashflow. As the self isolation period is for 14 days all absences will trigger statutory sick pay.
Until 2014, statutory sick pay (SSP) could be claimed back from HMRC however this is no longer the case.
If a good proportion of your workforce are self-isolating can you guarantee to your clients that work will get completed by the deadline?
After all, if the work isn’t completed, you can’t send the invoice out. If you can’t send the invoice out, you won’t get any money in.
Not all staff can do their jobs from home, particularly if it isn’t an office or desk based role.
Therefore you might need to find some cash reserves. Not only will you need to pay your staff but also the costs of any temp staff that need to come in to pick up workload so that you can get invoices out.
However, those staff that can work from home, are they actually able to do all of their tasks easily? For example, can the accounts team run invoices or pay invoices when they are not in the company building or linked to the network?
Staff being advised to self-isolate is not the only issue.
There is talk of the Government banning large gatherings of people as part of the Delay Phase. Large events will have to be cancelled or postponed.
This means companies, such as event catering or event management, could be out of pocket and being asked to refund deposits.
Local restaurants and retailers, operate leanly, with tight profit margins and just enough people on staff. They might struggle to provide sick pay at the same time they are encountering slow business because of widespread illness or public caution.
Travel Agents too, are experiencing a dramatic drop in bookings because of public caution.
This issue will only be temporary, but will certainly put pressure on small businesses who operate with very tight cashflow.
Some financial institutions have already pledged support for small businesses affect by Coronavirus, such as Nat West and Lloyds Bank.
The FSB has issued guidance for small businssses affected by Covid-19.
With Covid-19 hot on the heals of Brexit, the small business community needs to rally round and support each other as best we can.
If you’d like to talk to someone to see if you can do anything differently in your business to help your cashflow we’d love to hear from you. You can book a call below.