COVID-19: Let us know what you think of the Government's unprecedented support for workers...

Steve Bridger

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Community Manager

20 Mar, 2020 21:07

Good evening Everyone.

In response to the Chancellor’s unprecedented package of financial measures to support workers, Peter Cheese has made the following statement:

CIPD welcomes unprecedented support for workers and urges employers to hold their nerve while funds arrive

As Peter says...

“The challenge now is the speed with which employers can access these funds to avoid redundancies being made, given it could be the end of April before they become available.

“Employers need to hold their nerve in this challenging time and make every effort where they can to retain their staff while waiting for the job retention funding to come through. Concerns over immediate cashflow and payroll challenges should be met by the business loans announced by government, which should be available in a matter of days."

I've lost count of the number of times I've uttered the word "unprecedented" in recent days. My head is spinning.

Please do let us know what you think of the latest Government announcement... and share your thoughts and concerns below.

Finally, I just wanted to say that all of us at CIPD would like you to know we stand with you at this time.

  • The multitude of schemes , loans and grants this week are sadly essential. They are largely imaginative and in time will go a long way to mitigate in the short term some of the worst impact of the financial part of this crisis - but only in the short term. Sadly as a result of a health crisis we are heading for a 5-10 year economic downturn that at its worst will cost many many jobs and impact far more lives and hopes.

    Personally I don’t think imploring businesses to “hold their nerve” sets the right tone for me. I know many SME and even bigger business Directors who are frantically worrying how to meet payroll this coming week. It’s relatively easy to implore people from a safe secure position ( as I say it’s a tone thing) to hold their nerve harder to be on the front line with them.

    What positive action is CIPD taking to help members in crisis?
  • We need guidance on how to manage staff who are to be ‘furloughed’ - has the CIPD got any broad guidance on this other than what has been posted on the uk government website? We have a group of people at risk of redundancy. Do you continue to put people at risk, assess and then those who would have been made redundant are furloughed instead? Any guidance immediately would be welcomed. Thank you.
  • Whilst the announced measures will help many organisations, for those people intensive businesses where staff costs exceed 80% of operating costs it means that they will continue to operate at a loss - partricularly in the absence of other revenus due to shutdown.
  • I fear I too must take the welcome advisement of Government support of businesses with severe reservations regarding its capability for effective application.

    Throwing any amount of subsides and support at the problems will not have a material effect if other considerations are not addressed and resolved.

    The reality is that many SMEs are already financially committed to the hilt, either to expand or restructure their markets (not least in response to Brexit and its looming and unresolved threats to trade with European customers and "known quantity" opportunities), or in efforts to adjust to the accumulating effects of on-line suppliers on traditional markets: If major high-street names in retail and service supply are finding themselves forced aside by online competition, only to be further rocked by the Corvid 19 crisis, what chance have SME and local traders, service suppliers and tradesmen in similar circumstances?

    "Tiding over" even a month of wages and other overheads with no viable income, and with creditors who will have their own concerns regarding their supply of further goods or credit to debtors they now know have no ability to meet the resulting bills (and so far without indication of how any subsidies will apply), might as well be six months, a year, or forever! Those with responsible lenders (e.g. the major banks) might well be permitted to extend overdrafts and be given a "let" on payments for a month (or two), but will even that be enough? On the other end of the borrowing market, businesses relying on credit from suppliers with their own bills to pay are unlikely to be offered more flexibility in these circumstances, and those whose lenders are already strictly enforcing their terms are likely to receive short-shrift when requesting even a month of relief while the Government clarifies what is on offer and how it will apply.... and for Gov.UK to move that fast is, I fear, also something of a forlorn hope, since its Civil-servants too will need to make some tough and realistic assessments of who is to get what, and which sectors will be prioritised.

    The announcement of support makes good political headlines; the principle is welcome, and holds out hope in a suddenly grim commercial landscape, but how effective it will eventually be (and how "real" in terms of genuinely new funding and initiatives) is a question far from answered.

    ...But I hope, for all our sakes, to be answered both fully, and very quickly.

  • Steve Bridger

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    Community Manager

    21 Mar, 2020 10:47

    In reply to Keith:

    Keith said:
    What positive action is CIPD taking to help members in crisis?

    Hi ,

    As you know, this is a very fast-moving situation.

    We've been building up a resource of support and guidance over the past week or two as this crisis has escalated. That includes the Employment Law helpline. Lots more to come... but I think we'd honestly be guided by members, too. Where are the gaps? How can we help?  


  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    Steve - yes fast moving indeed.

    But for example I haven't seen any of the CIPD experts using these forums to help or advise members in the last two weeks . Or I haven't seen a live LinkedIn or Web Q&A from the CIPD Experts. Or a webinar on crisis management for members. Its all rather reactive

    I think the CIPD experts should be leading - we are all at limit coping and shouldn't be directing CIPD activity as well.

    As an additional though (and far down the list) has thought been given to suspending, delaying or reducing membership fees this year?

    So rather than homilies around holding our nerve I would prefer to see the CIPD on the front foot supporting members many of whom are at their wits end.
  • In reply to Keith:

    CIPD and all its members surely constitute a potentially-valuable and strategically helpful resource that IMHO could and should be almost-unreservedly be offered to the Government at this time of national emergency.

    Like former NHS workers coming out of retirement, I for one would be more than willing to help out in any(safe, because I'm very much in vulnerable population group) way possible. It must be total mayhem for working colleagues and I can't help feeling this disparity most acutely.
  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    This is one very simple thing I would appreciate. We now have multiple Coronavirus threads and one monster thread that covers many topics. Could someone at the CIPD please sort it all out into subject areas so we can go straight to a page with everything on supporting WFH or everything on SSP etc. The same questions are coming up repeatedly and often the answers are already out there but you have to scroll through 7 pages to find them.
  • In reply to David:

    An enlightened suggestion David.

    I currently still mentor a small number of colleagues in varying sized businesses and all of them are having to deal with the multiple "train smash" of trying to function day-to-day while the rules are re-written by the circumstances and longer-term effects and potentials create new and previously uncharted scenarios. Even if just as a "think tank" for detached review, similar to the existing function of this Community but in a wider scale, there could well be wider and more generalised employment-related considerations that our membership could support, many of which would be susceptible to "WFH" in necessary isolation.
  • Similar point to Lucy - is there a legal definition / framework for 'furlough' or are we applying it for any temporary lay-off / reduced hours working?
    If we have a limited need to apply this and want to distribute impact, will we be able to use it to compensate for partially reduced hours rather than for individuals not working at all?
  • In reply to Helen:

    My two questions are the same as Helen's - if CIPD are able to advise, that would be appreciated.
  • Steve Bridger

    | 0 Posts

    Community Manager

    22 Mar, 2020 09:49

    In reply to Elizabeth Divver:

    That'll be me.

    We were also wondering whether we should make this group open to all? One of the issues there is that I moved threads into this group, which were started in existing member-only groups.

    I could create forums within this group under different topics. Mindful that 'everything' could end up duplicating the forums outside this Coronavirus group.

    Genuinely open to ideas.
  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    My reservation on that is that "open to all" will, almost inevitably, swamp the page with secondary and effectively unrelated issues, in a similar way to the way submissions on the "in confidence" site include a number that do not need to be "in confidence" other than to save face (or pangs of conscience) for those submitting them. For example the issue of whether a disciplinary hearing can be held by video-link, other then with the unconstrained agreement agreement of its subject (accused employee) is not an issue directly or specifically relevant to C'vid 19, but to any circumstance where that would be a seemingly "convenient" option (to any of those involved). Such issues, if numerous and piled into a single page, would need either massive filtration, sorting and cross indexing, or would soon become an useless homogeneous mass where specific concerns would be lost in the "noise" of thread-titles not (apparently) related to them.

    Might it not be better to retain the "members only" status of the page relating to those matters strictly related to how things like H&S measures, Govt' directions, social circumstances (e.g. how an NHS worker doing a 7am-3pm shift might be permitted to access the Supermarkets' new "NHS shopping hour" from 7-8 am) are dealt with, leaving the member to then distribute or utilise the information in their workplace/circumstance, leaving other matters, not directly focused on dealing with the crisis, to sit where they normally would (in public or restricted area) with links from the C'vid site to them under a simple list of page or subject headings?

    Just an initial thought.


  • In reply to Steve Bridger:

    I think if you make it open again then the CIPD has to put resources and people behind it to answer some of the issues and to provide guidance and support rather than relying on a few members many of whom are snowed under already.
  • Like a number of others on this thread, simple and clear CIPD guidance around managing the furlough process would be urgently appreciated ie. how do we go about this? how does it differ to lay off and short-time working? presumably all benefits and holiday accrual continue? Template documents would also be useful to prevent us all from 'reinventing the wheel' when we're currently up against it time-wise. Thank you