We fully understand that the current situation with Coronavirus COVID-19 is a very serious concern to everybody, right across our industry and beyond. We want you to know that we are committed to BAPIA members and we are looking into what we can do to support you in any way that we can. Here is a list of the latest information and resources we know of that might be helpful to us all during this time.
Please note that, whilst we are doing our very best to bring you accurate and up-to-date information, we do ask you to appreciate that this is an unprecedented time for us all. We are not experts on this subject nor do we claim to be giving legal and/or medical advice so please do take the time to verify and research anything that we may suggest.
USEFUL RESOURCES TO CHECK:
Here is a link to the NHS website with information on what Coronavirus is and how to protect yourself and check if you need medical help: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
The most common symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are a new, continuous cough or a high temperature. For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild infection however it poses a higher risk to those with underlying medical conditions as well as those who are 70 or over, have a long-term condition, are pregnant or have a weakened immune system. As it is contagious and can be passed along, care must be taken to prevent the spread of the virus even by those who are not considered ‘high-risk’.
Official UK Government Response to Coronavirus
The GOV.UK website features the official government response to Coronavirus as well as links to pages on related topics here: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response
This page provides guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK and protecting older people and vulnerable people: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults
Guidance for employees, employers and businesses
Here is guidance from the government GOV.UK website on the support available for businesses and guidance for employees: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
On 17th March the government unveiled a package of financial measures for businesses including loans. This article in particular provides advice on business support measures on rate relief and loans: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-employees-employers-and-businesses
RELIEF FOR THE EMPLOYED, SELF-EMPLOYED AND BUSINESSES:
Relief for the Self-Employed
Anyone not eligible to receive sick pay, including those earning less than an average of £118 per week, some of those working in the gig economy, or self-employed people, is able to claim Universal Credit and or contributory Employment and Support Allowance.
Money Saving Expert are continually updating this page wIth useful information on rights and relief for the self-employed: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/#selfemployed
Relief for the Employed (Statutory Sick Pay)
If you’re in employed work, Statutory Sick Pay will be payable if you are staying at home on Government advice, not just if you are infected by coronavirus. This will apply from 13 March 2020. Those who follow advice to stay at home and who cannot work as a result will be eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP), even if they are not themselves sick.
Employers should use their discretion and respect the medical need to self-isolate in making decisions about sick pay. Employees who are not claiming benefits, cannot work due to coronavirus and are eligible for Statutory Sick Pay will get it from day one, rather than from the fourth day of your illness. DWP intends to legislate so this measure applies retrospectively from 13 March 2020.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS:
Training Classes on bapiaonline.com
Regarding cancellations we are trying to keep the Training Calendar on the BAPIA website, bapiaonline.com, as up to date as possible. However, as we ourselves do not run these courses (we simply help to share them with you) there may be a delay in updates. As well as regularly refreshing the calendar page, we encourage you to check both our main BAPIA Facebook Page and the BAPIA Members Only Facebook Group where we are also posting updates on all listed training classes - whether they are cancelled or going ahead - as and when we hear. You may also wish to use the booking information listed on the page for each class to contact the organisers directly to ask about cancellations.
Travelling for Work/Training
The Foreign Office now advises against all but essential travel anywhere outside of the UK for 30 days (though this may be extended). This means that if you do have a trip planned in that time that was booked before the virus UK outbreak (check with your insurer for their cutoff dates) with most travel insurers (sadly not all) you are usually due a refund even if flights/hotels are still on. Since the outbreak, most travel insurers have updated their policies for new policies not to cover you for loss relating to Coronavirus.
Check the BAPIA Members Only Facebook Group
As always, the BAPIA Members Only Facebook Group remains an incredibly active, helpful and insightful wealth of support, particularly in this unnerving time. We’d like to take the time to thank each and every BAPIA member who takes the time to interact in the Group - be it answering a question or sharing a concern.
If you are a BAPIA member and haven’t yet joined the Facebook Group, please do request to join and you will be promptly accepted. We are here to help. We are posting information here as we get it whilst we all try to give one another as much support and information as possible during these unprecedented times.
All members should also be receiving BAPIA email updates regarding Coronavirus as and when we receive any new information. If you haven’t received our emails please check your spam/junk folders and ensure that your BAPIA member login is up to date with your current email address.
BEST PRACTISE GOING FORWARD:
Update New Contracts, Business Policies and Terms & Conditions
Going forward and in light of this situation, we strongly advise all BAPIA members to review and if necessary, update all contract templates, business policies and terms and conditions to include a clause regarding cancellations in the events of an occurrence such Coronavirus. It’s important to make clear at which point a booking is considered final, if you require a deposit and, if so, what the deposit is covering. It’s also important to list your stance on cancellations noting the circumstances in which they will or will not be accepted and if/when refunds and credit notes will be issued i.e. in which cases.
Where possible, on your business website you may wish to link to a page of your standard business policies, terms and conditions so that, should any disputes arise, customers can be directed there as a polite reminder of their contractual obligations.
If in a difficult dispute with a customer regarding a cancellation, other BAPIA members suggest to ask oneself, ‘What would put my mind at rest if I were them?’ and to see if you can find a solution that allows the customer to recoup their investment without jeopardising your business in the long run.
Health and Safety At Work
It’s important to keep yourself and your staff safe during this time. We encourage all BAPIA members to familiarise themselves with NHS and government guidelines on protection during this time. I
n the interest of preventing the spread of Coronavirus, we encourage you to do what you can to ensure that all staff, suppliers, clients and anyone related to your business is aware of this information as well - for instance, placing posters in store may spread awareness of personal hygiene best practises and symptoms. Other advice includes:
Keep everyone updated on actions being taken to reduce risks of exposure in the workplace
Ensure employees who are in a vulnerable group are strongly advised to follow social distancing guidance
Make sure everyone’s contact numbers and emergency contact details are up to date
Make sure managers know how to spot symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and are clear on any relevant processes, for example sickness reporting and sick pay, and procedures in case someone in the workplace is potentially infected and needs to take the appropriate action
Make sure there are places to wash hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, and encourage everyone to do so regularly
Provide hand sanitiser and tissues for staff, and encourage them to use them.
Update risk assessments to factor in Coronavirus. Consider how this may affect the element of risk during each work task and what can and will be done to lessen the risk
We encourage employers to familiarise themselves with employees’ rights and to stay up to date with government advice to employees’ to ensure that you can get the necessary measures in place to support yourself and to react to any financial impact this may have on your business.
Please see part 2 of this post for information on insurance and dealing with cancellations.
We’ll be continually updating this BAPIA News post with any and all potentially useful information that we come across so do keep checking back. As always, the active BAPIA community within our BAPIA Members Only Facebook Group provides a generous wealth of advice and support during this difficult time.
Please stay safe, healthy and positive.