April 20, 2020
By now I am sure your families and you have developed a new if slightly surreal daily routine of working from home and homeschooling (also known as riot police training) the kids. Some parts of Europe have eased their lockdown restrictions and though in the UK the government have announced another 3 weeks of lockdown there is a growing sense that an easing of restrictions might be coming our way.
With the speed the crisis occurred we were forced to react to protect our business and in effect carry out some form of disaster management. Now that the circumstances surrounding Furlough leave and the other government schemes are more settled there is a bit more time to breathe and consider the future. What will the new normal look like?
It is a safe guess that coming out of lockdown will look very different to how it commenced. There will probably be a gradual return to kids going to school, restaurants and pubs opening, firms trading and shops selling. Trade generally will take time to recover.
The Furlough scheme will not last indefinitely and now is the time to consider what to do when furlough leave is withdrawn, and you have a full salary run to fund especially as many businesses reserves will be severely depleted as a result of the current crisis.
Sadly, it might be necessary to make some employees redundant. This action will be taken by many employers with a heavy heart but may well be necessary to protect the business and other employees.
If it is necessary, it is important to follow the relevant procedure and the correct redundancy payment given to the employee concerned. If not, then a costly employment tribunal claim may follow which is the last thing anyone would want in the current environment.
The old saying of cash is king has never been more appropriate. Trade might take a while to pick up but that does not stop you chasing money you are owed. Unfortunately, some businesses will fold and there is little to be done if money is owed by them but what about those who continue to trade.
It is vital to chase them as soon as possible for payment. Thinking that they have always paid you before so they will pay you now might not be true. Their circumstances could have changed. It is important once they have gone beyond their payment terms that they are sent a letter before claim. This will show that you will not wait for payment and hopefully put you to the top of the pile when they are considering who to pay. You are also teaching good habits and hopefully it will mean they will pay on time going forward.
If necessary, court proceedings can be issued. Care should be taken to ascertain if the company that is indebted to you has the funds to pay as there is no point in throwing good money after bad. If they do have the funds then that should be in your account and not theirs.
The future may not be bright but at least it a little less gloomy than 4 weeks ago. The majority of businesses will survive but to do so it is important to start thinking about what is to be done now.