The spread of COVID-19, commonly referred to as the coronavirus, is an exceptional circumstance with ongoing ramifications for organisations, individuals and society on every level. As the situation continues to develop and change, the CIPD will provide updated advice, resources and guidance to support employers and people professionals in their response.

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CIPD position

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is an exceptional event posing a significant threat to people’s health and huge financial disruption across the economy. 

The UK Government has put in place an unprecedented package of support for both working people and businesses that will go a long way to protect livelihoods. However, it is vital the Government closes any loopholes to ensure money is made available to workers and firms facing immediate financial hardship as soon as possible. 

Many organisations will need to manage or reduce workforce costs during the crisis, but it is important that decisions to make redundancies are taken as a last resort.

Maximising the use of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme, consulting with staff to agree temporary short-time working or changes to pay or benefits, are all ways that can be used to keep people in jobs. 

Employers that continue to value their staff and treat them fairly, even under enormous pressure, are much more likely to retain the skills and people they need to bounce back once the crisis is over.

As a new virus, it’s still unclear how long the threat will last. Organisations must therefore continue to plan for months of disruption. It will be a crucial test of their agility and people support capability.

Employee health, safety and well-being during this time is paramount. Employers need to be proactive in protecting their people and minimising the risk to staff and business continuity. The people profession needs to be at the forefront of the plans and critical decisions being made about the workforce.

They must recognise that many of their people will be anxious about contracting or passing on the virus and how they might cope being isolated from friends, family and colleagues for long periods of time. Constant communication with the workforce and early action are key, including ensuring managers are trained to support employees’ continued well-being, both those in the workplace and those working from home. 

Organisations have had to swiftly adopt agile and flexible working practices, but they must continue to review these methods to ensure the health of staff is protected and the technology being used is fit for purpose. Businesses must put people first in all decisions they make as it will stand them in good stead for long-term survival.

Hear from Peter Cheese, the CIPD's CEO on how best to prepare for this ever changing situation

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