Three quarters of employers eye staff COVID-19 tests

REBA survey shows

Adam Saville
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Three quarters of employers eye staff COVID-19 tests

Govt. app technology, employee face masks and positive/negative COVID-19 tests on employer radars

A survey by Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) investigating the impact of the coronavirus crisis on businesses has revealed that almost three quarters (72%) of employers have introduced - or are reviewing the use of - the government app for staff to notify colleagues if they're positive for COVID-19. 

A similar number (74%) of employers have introduced or are reviewing offering employees face masks due to COVID-19, while 68% have introduced - or are reviewing using - the government's COVID-19 positive/negative test.

Conducted between 28 April and 5 May, the survey received 194 responses from REBA members, including the likes of John Lewis Partnership, Marks & Spencer and Virgin Atlantic.

Employee wellbeing

The poll, which follows two recent surveys focusing on employer plans regarding worker contracts and employee wellbeing benefits during the crisis, also explored the impact of COVID-19 on company employee benefits and group risk and health schemes.

The report found that only a handful of its respondents plan to introduce or review the provision of benefits such as private medical insurance, income protection, life cover, critical illness cover and health cash plans.

Around one in eight (13.3%) respondents have introduced or are planning to introduce financial education for employees in response to the coronavirus crisis.

Fewer than one in 10 (7.6%) are offering or plan to offer additional pension support for pre-retirement employees. Pension contributions and employee share plans have not been impacted, the report also found.

Business outlook

Carried out not long after the UK government extended the furlough scheme by a month, the survey also found that 58.4% of businesses have been negatively or very negatively hit by the pandemic.

It also revealed how some respondents are optimistic about the future from a business perspective.

Almost a quarter (24.6%) said they believe the coronavirus will have a positive or very positive impact on the future sustainability of their business. The majority, however, said it would either have little overall change or negative impact on their sustainability as a business (72.7%).

The findings show that firms in the transport, leisure and travel industries are forecasting a very negative future impact, while food manufacturing/distribution and healthcare industries seem to be benefitting from the crisis.

Encouragingly, 71.4% of respondents said they have a clear view of the future as a business. Nearly 60% (57.4%) said they do not plan to close some parts of their business permanently - 3.4% plan to do so - while 30.1% said they will not expand existing areas of business (47.7% said they were undecided).

Furlough

Regarding the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), more than half (55.1%) said they were using to furlough some staff, while almost 95% said they would not use the scheme across all its staff. The survey showed 4.5% planning to use the CJRS for some staff.

Around one in 10 of respondents (8.5%) said they planned to make compulsory redundancies and 4.5% plan to offer voluntary redundancies following the COVID-19 outbreak, while just under half were still undecided on both.

More than half (54.5%) said they do not plan to recruit staff at this time and 47.7% are undecided about whether to reduce working hours (36.4% said they will not do so).

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