Penningtons Manches Cooper maintains a viable and tested business continuity plan as part of our everyday operations. The plan outlines the measures we will take if the delivery of our services is impacted by a major incident or disaster.
We have established a management led coronavirus response team which includes lawyers from across the business and representatives from our human resources, IT, risk, facilities, business development and communications teams . This group is closely monitoring the situation and reviewing our business continuity plan in the context of a rapidly changing health environment.
Across our office network we operate a flexible agile working policy which allows partners, managers, IT teams and employees to work remotely from any of our locations or from their homes. The robust nature of our IT network means we can flex this policy to accommodate entire teams working away from the office while maintaining the provision of services.
In any situation the safety of our staff and clients is our first priority and we will continue to test our contingency planning while the coronavirus outbreak remains an escalating situation.
We are communicating to all staff daily through our usual two-way internal communication channels and additionally a dedicated coronavirus hub on the firm’s intranet. The hub provides access to health and safety advice, staff questions and answers and updates on policy measures from the coronavirus response team.
Planning is underway for a phased return to our offices. We are opening our offices one by one once we are confident that the working environment is a safe one and where social distancing guidance can be respected. Our risk assessment guide for reactivating our offices can be found here.
In accordance with local government guidance our partners and staff will continue to work from home for the time being.
We are following government plans and taking ‘necessary and reasonable steps’ to protect our people and safeguard our clients as best we can while ensuring there is a minimum impact on the business.
In the case of any client meeting, if it can effectively happen using technology, this is our preferred approach. If a face to face meeting is deemed essential for business reasons, we will ask all clients and visitors to confirm if they have been in contact with a person with coronavirus or are displaying symptoms themselves. If either of these circumstances apply, we will do our best to facilitate a meeting using video or conference calls.
We are reviewing our programme of events and have cancelled any that were scheduled to take place in our offices between now and 1 September 2020.
Our current business travel policy covers travel to all Penningtons Manches Cooper offices, for client purposes and for conferences and other business activity. Following government advice, the policy now states that all staff should work from home where possible, and there must be a business essential reason for any member of staff to be in an office. If a meeting can take place using video or conference calls, it is not deemed essential. The policy states that there will be no international business travel to any country for the remainder of the calendar year.
While the government continues to issue advice on personal travel both overseas and in the UK, we do not feel it appropriate to issue specific guidance on this issue to our people: it is hoped and strongly recommended that all of us will check and follow local government guidance issued before travelling.