Kildare teacher Ben Kavanagh lives in the city of Wuhan in China which is at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak.
As cases of Coronavirus have been identified in neighbouring countries, and as an office in Dublin has closed its doors as a temporary preventive measure, it is time for Irish employers to make plans for when cases of infection are confirmed here.
Irish businesses are in a much better position to counter the outbreak of an influenza epidemic than they were in the past, as they are less dependent on centralised facilities and can allow more people to work from home.
However, many businesses conduct their affairs on a person-to-person basis, where it is more difficult to mitigate the risks of contamination. All business owners are now in a position to adopt basic levels of precaution ahead of Coronavirus entering the Irish population. The measures SMEs should take are:
Gather information on pandemic influenza and assign responsibilities for planning. Government advice is available.
Consult within your staff, customers and suppliers. If you have Asian suppliers, you need to talk to them immediately about their production and export plans.
Understand what are the ‘high level’ impacts pandemic could have on your business, and prioritise the most impactful ones.
Nominate deputies for the key personnel in all roles.
Consider where you would be in a position to access contractors if your own workforce was to be significantly impacted.
Develop a business continuity plan, brief your staff on that plan, and test it in exercises. Maximise the use of remote and flexible working.
Discuss contingencies with your accountant and your bank should there be significant impacts on your suppliers or your customers.