CBI Northern Ireland Director Angela McGowan has called for confidence building measures to be put in place in a bid to get the business community back on its feet. She firmly believes that businesses should put safety of their customers at the top of their priority list to build back that confidence, and that the Northern Ireland Executive support employers so that they can negotiate the next few months as smoothly as possible, retaining staff and growing back their businesses.
Six Measures To Aid Recovery
Writing in the Irish News the CBI Director identifies 6 measures which she would like to see taken to aid recovery from the pandemic. She writes:
“First as we embark on the mid-summer break, we need urgent clarity on the Executive’s position on working from home, giving offices times to properly prepare. Leadership from our policy-makers on this issue is essential.
“Second, reviewing self-isolation rules, along with an increase in the flexibility within the testing system itself. This can combine to reduce the impact of staff shortages, which are already hindering Northern Irish businesses’ ability to trade their way to recovery – particular for firms in hospitality.
“We’ve all seen the raft of pingdemic headlines coming out of England. Regrettably the UK Government’s current approach to self-isolation there is closing down the economy rather than opening it up – surely the opposite of what politicians intended. Businesses based in England have exhausted their contingency plans when it comes to addressing staff shortages and are at risk of grinding to a halt in the next few weeks.
The Executive Need To Act To Change Self Isolation Guidance
“The Northern Irish Executive has a window of opportunity to reduce the impact of such issues. They must take it and promptly confirm that those who have been double-vaccinated and the covid-recovered no longer need to self-isolate if not infectious and introduce a test and release scheme. We sincerely cannot afford mass self-isolation in Northern Ireland’s workforce when staff shortages were already acute.
“Third, and unsurprisingly, we believe that the Executive must also spell out a future vision for workplace testing, which should include funding, to support a pragmatic approach to self-isolation.
“Number four – businesses, especially SMEs, will need guidance on what they must do right now. Firms will naturally do all they can to keep employees and customers safe and know consultation with staff will be a key tool. But there can be no grey areas in the expectations upon firms, which means any health and safety rules, risk assessments and potential for inadvertent discrimination must be clearly and rapidly communicated.
Assessing Risks Within The Work Environment
“Fifth is support for firms to implement any measures required to cut risks. The HSENI must help businesses to understand how to assess risks within their own working environment, as well as the impact of measures like improved ventilation and enhanced cleaning.
“Finally, it is incumbent upon businesses to share examples of good practice, and to be open to that learning. Firms going the extra mile to maintain testing or implement safety measures will ensure workers and customers can engage with confidence.”
Angela believes that it is only when consumers become confident in traveling around, going shopping and eating out that the hospitality sector will truly begin to recover, so everything must be done to instill that confidence into the public. There is certainly some very good advice there which we can all take on board as we move forward.