Firms risk legal claims after failure on reopening rules
UP TO three quarters of businesses are failing to meet government guidelines on reopening, sparking fears of a wave of legal claims if staff or customers contract Covid-19 on unsafe premises.
The revelation prompted calls for the Government to make its guidance clearer to avoid firms getting tangled in a web of red tape. Business groups also called for help for firms to meet the cost of ensuring they minimise the risk of Covid-19 being transmitted between staff and customers.
Gallagher, the insurer, said that the majority of companies that had asked it to review their risk assessments for reopening had failed to meet the official standards, which could leave them without a strong defence if they were sued. The most common failures by firms included failure to carry out proper risk assessments and not fully understanding the Government’s guidelines, Gallagher found.
Neil Hodgson, managing director for risk management at Gallagher, said: “Clearly the guidelines are complex and vary depending on the type of business and the services it offers. Therefore it’s no wonder that business owners are finding it difficult to navigate some of the steps they are required to put in place to protect them from financial and reputational damage.”
Roger Barker, head of corporate governance at the Institute of Directors, called for further financial support to help firms meet the costs of reopening safely.
He said: “Given that any risk assessment involves looking closely at official guidance, the Government can help by making advice as clear and up-to-date as possible.
“Adapting premises isn’t free for already cash-strapped businesses, so a recovery grant to enable smaller firms to adjust may prove helpful, particularly for those that have missed out on support so far.”
‘Adapting premises isn’t free, so a recovery grant to enable smaller firms to adjust may prove helpful’