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COVID-19 Business Continuity Plan: Bracing for Impact

Malcolm Campbell ||

Coronavirus (‘COVID-19’) has exposed three issues that all of us now grapple with. These are:

  1. The human effect – the effect of infection and how can we minimise the spread of a contagious disease;
  2. The global business effect – how has restricted travel and banned entry into countries affected the global economy; and
  3. The effect on Australian businesses – how can we brace for impact and come out the other side.

On Friday, 13 March 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that that more than 132,000 cases of COVID-19 had been reported from 123 countries and territories. This rapid spread with no immediate vaccine poses a threat, particularly to those who are vulnerable in the community. It is changing the way we can and should be communicating. These are trying times for all Australian businesses, but the way forward is to have a business continuity plan, implement that plan swiftly and test that plan to identify any gaps.

We are here to help – you are not alone

We have compiled a quick checklist of business matters to turn your mind to and that we are here to assist you navigate:

Communication with Key Stakeholders
  • Have you prepared communication briefings to key stakeholders in your business (for example, employees, customers) on how you will be managing the challenge ahead?
  • Do you have a FAQ table that you can readily refer to as questions are raised by various stakeholders?
  • Have you identified key staff as points of contact for this communication?
Supply Chain
  • Does your business rely on one source of supply?
  • Are there local sources that can be utilised or accessed?
  • Do you need assistance in finding a network of suppliers?
  • How will your goods be transported out of countries with restricted access?
  • Do you have sufficient supplies of raw materials?
  • Do your supply contracts have a ‘force majeure’ clause that covers the Coronavirus scenario; provides for suspension of liability during the crisis and provides for any termination rights for ongoing inability to supply? and,
  • Do your supply contracts allow for price adjustment in the face of a change in cost base from a need to source products locally?
  • Do you have insurance for losses arising from Coronavirus related disruptions?
  • Do your supply contracts contain any adverse material change clauses that may provide some relief from liability?
  • Have you considered whether you are able to negotiate a variation of your contracts to accommodate delays and potential default scenarios?
  • What steps should you be taking to limit the spread of Coronavirus amongst employees?
  • Are employees equipped to work remotely?
  • Can employees work on a rotation basis to minimise the number of employees that may be infected at one time?
  • Are employees still being required/permitted to attend external meetings?
  • How are client face to face meetings being handled?
  • Have you prepared a table of key Q&As to answer questions that employees may have?
  • How are you dealing with leave necessitated by Coronavirus illness or self isolation?
  • How should you deal with casual v permanent staff?
  • Have you scheduled upcoming conferences locally or internationally?
  • How will you deal with the postponement or the cancellation of conferences or events?
  • Does your insurance cover cancellation costs?
Corporate Governance
  • Does your management structure allow for the holding of meetings and making of decisions remotely?
  • Is there a Risk Management Plan in place?
  • How are you implementing this plan in a practical sense?
  • How are you communicating your preparedness to remain business-ready?
  • What advice are you giving your customers or clients about attending your premises?
  • Have you nominated a key person to field Coronavirus-related questions?
  • Have you reviewed your finance arrangements?
  • What scope is there for extra time to pay invoices or seeking additional funding?
  • Have you set a plan in place to manage possible defaults before a default occurs?

The Coleman Greig team remains ready to assist you and your business. We have adopted remote work practices where possible, but we remain contactable as usual. If you would like to discuss any aspect of this checklist or your business generally, please do not hesitate to contact a lawyer in Coleman Greig’s Commercial Advice team, who would be more than happy to assist you.


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