Coronavirus Hits UK Transport Industry
COVID19 and the UK Transport Sector –
NEWS from FLEETSense – @ 18/03/20 PM
With daily developments in the rise of this global pandemic, like everyone else, we’re trying to keep abreast of the fast-changing issues and what this mean for our industry; Transport.
This news report looks at some of the key factors that will, almost certainly, affect your business and thousands of others across the country in the coming days and weeks.
It’s fair to say that none of us can remember a time when we’ve faced such uncertainty and that as the news plays out things are changing literally hour by hour.
Reported last week from his press conference, the US President placed travel restrictions for all major countries in Europe. This week that has been extended to include the UK. Global air travel is grinding to a halt.
And while trade of goods is not to be affected this has sent shockwaves around the world. At the time of writing the global stock markets have plummeted, including the FTSE100 seeing over 30% wiped off its value in the past week.
How is this relevant to running a small or modest transport fleet here in the UK?
Well, one thing that is blatantly apparent is that governments are struggling to keep up with the pace of things, with the UK government being challenged over its decision to delay more serious actions. News of more announcements are already expected very soon.
The social media drums are alive with suggestions of a possible complete shutdown being likely here in the UK. Schools are already admitting that this is one likely scenario.
While the UK cases of COVID19 are still relatively low and, thankfully, we’ve not seen the extreme impact the likes of Italy, this number is rising daily and there is still real concern.
In regards to our industry we’re focusing on two main issues that Transport Operators may face –
Firstly, the issue of travel of goods around the country, as well as imports and exports. Many TOs will be engaged in the transport supply and logistics for the retail industry. Whether that be major supermarkets, car dealerships or stock deliveries to small businesses, these supply chains can and probably will be affected, if not already.
Secondly, a core concern for employers is the possible impact of major staff absences. This may be as a result of those choosing to self-isolate and those taken ill. Likewise, the impact of schools closing will have huge impact on thousands of working families across the country.
Here at FLEETSense we’ve set out strict protocols for operating onsite with our clients, their staff, drivers, technicians, etc. You can read how we’ve done this here.
In blunt terms, if you’re not already thinking seriously about what this means you need to start now.
Forward planning, for all sort of contingencies, is a vital part of good business management and risk control. We encourage you to take the following steps, or at least consider the benefits of these –
1. Ensure you have some mechanisms for keeping up with the changing status of news reports and possible emergency actions decided by the government. At least one person in your business should be scanning news frequently to stay informed and report back.
2. Consider what protocols you need to put in place, if not already, for the protection of your staff and workers. This isn’t just about being a nice employer; it’s also about a legal duty of care and your wider Corporate Social Responsibility.
3. Plan for the possible financial impact that could start very soon. If you’ve got customers in higher-risk business, like retail, entertainment, travel, etc. the knock-on cash flow issues could land at your door sooner than expected.
While it’s a fact that Britons have a track record of ‘Keeping Calm and Carrying On’ we know that now is the time to focus on these possible issues.
In light of recent government announcements, as well as the Budget itself, we know that employers are asking questions about sickness policies and pay, who will carry the can and what the worst-case scenario could look like?
Recent announcements by the PM and Chancellor mean that emergency funding will be made available to businesses to support them through this time. Although it will take some time to fully understand how this will be deployed and what you can do, or claim for to get through the coming weeks and months.
Again, we’re following our FLEETSense ethos for thinking ahead and recognising that all business operators need to be agile and flexible. So this is why we’re highlighting the issues at hand today.
It’s essential for business owners and senior managers to make time now to talk, review and agree actions that may be needed to protect the business interests, as well as those of all staff.
At the same time, we’re encouraging our clients and customers to look to external professional help and advice. This might be as members of trade organisations, as well as the services of accountants, insurers, banks and lenders.
Health guidance is available from NHS resources but it may be prudent to speak with HR service providers as well, checking on the status and validity of existing company policies and procedures.
FLEETSense has the benefit of operating independently and in close collaboration with leading suppliers as well as our own client base. This helps us to bring you news and guidance based on multiple sources. We’ll update more on this as news develops.
To summarise, here’s a quick checklist (not comprehensive but for guidance) –
1. What protocols or policies have we got in place for drivers/staff reporting sickness?
2. What policy do we have for workplace hygiene and safety or all workers?
3. What back-up measures do we have for staff replacement at short notice?
4. What critical staff/positions do we have cover for in order to continue operating?
5. What communications have we had with customers/suppliers about their on-site polices?
6. How can we keep open channels of communication to speed up any responses required?
7. Are we clear on sickness policies and pay across all staff types, has this been communicated?
8. How strong is our financial position and credit control, do we need to make changes?
9. How able are we to change routing and scheduling at short notice and maintain efficiency?
10. Can we find gaps left by others and actually increase revenues from extra or new contracts?
We also strongly recommend that you contact your insurers for advice and guidance.
If you’re anxious to get some help and guidance contact the specialist team here at FLEETSense for independent advice and support.