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.
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 31 May. For events at external venues, we are working closely with co-hosts to decide whether or not the event will take place and following government guidance relating to private gatherings. In the meantime, we are in regular communication with every venue to ensure that all appropriate measures are taken to mitigate the risk of transmission of coronavirus (Covid-19). Guests will be notified immediately if an event is cancelled.
Our current business travel policy covers travel to all Penningtons Manches Cooper offices, for client purposes and for conferences and other business activity. Following additional 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. The policy strictly prohibits business travel to any country listed as either category 1 or 2 and asks staff to minimise as much as possible non-essential travel within the UK or to any other country. If a meeting can take place using video or conference calls, it is not deemed essential.
While the government has issued advice against all non-essential 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 the government guidance issued in our country before travelling. Possibly at the risk of stating the obvious we continue to encourage all our people to follow the recommended hygiene rules. If, after reading all the guidance available, any of our staff are in any doubt about whether they should come to work, they are instructed not to do so without contacting an HR advisor first.