COVID-19 Emergency Working Group Meeting Notes 27/5/2020

Posted in : Supplementary Articles NI on 29 May 2020 Issues covered: Coronavirus


The NI CBI Covid-19 Emergency working group meets regularly to discuss matters relating to the Coronavirus pandemic for NI Employers. The notes below are from the most recent meeting.

General feedback

  • Companies generally settling down into new normal and preparing for more employees returning
  • Working hard to communicate with employees on new rules / expectations /environment – e.g videos and communicating to small groups at a time
  • Thermal cameras used by some for temperature checking
  • Would be interested in hearing more on the scientific evidence on 1m or 2m distancing rule.
  • Reduction to 1m social distancing would have a huge impact on economic recovery in termsof what firms can do with employees / productivity / customers
  • A proactive ‘Track and trace’ would give employees some comfort - but employers uncertainabout the impact on absenteeism
  • Firms continue to look at where technology can help – launching new products / carrying outaudits etc
  • Cannot emphasize enough the need for good access to export markets
  • Utility provider able to increase business activity further- moved from servicing only faults andemergencies to now engaging with customers etc
  • Government’s economic recovery plan details would be welcome, and boards would welcomegovernment direction around how the financial support and future economic stimulus will bepaid for.
  • Good feedback on CBI’s Webinar (27 May) on Health and Safety and Risk Assessments –available at:

Labour Issues

  • Absenteeism is improving
  • Would like to see support from InvestNI for e-learning – retraining / upskilling staff.
  • Employers facing some questions from employees about the 14 days quarantine imposed ifthey take a foreign holiday this year
  • In terms of working from home, some firms noted desire to get people into office on astaggered basis / at stages – but not pushing it.
  • Firms also working hard to meet H&S obligations to ensure employees working from homeare safe and have equipment they need etc
  • Law firms / IT firms giving employees allowances – creating an expectation that cannot bemet by all employers
  • Would like to see some sort of protocol from Health and Safety Ex around what best practicelooks like for home workers / employer support
  • Childcare appears to be the primary reason why those working from home cannot return tothe workplace. Is there any view on when the NI Executive may announce some relaxation of childcare (including the opportunity for other households to care for children)?

Specific Agri-food sector feedback

  • Hot weather helping with demand
  • Good to see food service gradually coming back
  • Some more corona virus positive cases reported, but reaction from other employees hassettled down a bit.
  • One employer paying Covid19 positive employees to stay at home for an extra week as thereis a perception (among other employees) that 7 days is not long enough.

Specific construction sector feedback

  • Productivity not impacted as badly as predicted when working with the 2m rule
  • 1 meter would allow for more tasks to be done and greater productivity
  • Significant drying up in public sector work so constuction sector would really appreciate information on the government's recovery plan - will an infrastructure boosts be at the heart of it?
This article is correct at 29/05/2020

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