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Business Continuity and Planned Power Outages

We have heard that some insurers have been contacting their business customers to warn of planned power outages in the UK this winter. It seems that government departments and the National Grid have discussed what to do if the need for planned outages should arise. We're very aware that if outages do occur, these could have a huge impact on business. However, we haven't heard anything further to confirm that outages are actually planned, so our advice at the moment is simply to prepare rather than to panic!

So, with the business continuity steps we took at the start of the pandemic still firmly imprinted on our brains, we've put our minds to considering what you might need to do if we do face power outages.

We would advise that you consider putting in place steps for this kind of risk, based on the following:

  • It's worth checking who provides power to you and making a note of it so you know who to contact for updates if and when needed.

  • In the event of a power outage, workers in some locations could be affected and others may be able to continue as usual, which could help with business continuity.

  • Some organisations may be able to run a limited service without power.

    • For instance, with a bit of advance planning, retail businesses could consider remaining open during daylight hours and accepting cash.

  • For workplaces who are reliant on power to run their operations, communication to employees, customers and suppliers will be key.

    • We would recommend drafting a communication that can be sent in the event of a power outage, so that key people are aware what the impact will be and for how long.

      • It's best to have a plan of who will be responsible for notifying which specific groups in the event of an emergency.

      • Ideally, you need to consider different communication options which could range from telephone, email, text and social media to a good old fashioned sign on the door (printed in advance or handwritten if needed).

      • You should also consider how you will get hold of contact details in this kind of emergency, based on where these are stored, but bear in mind data protection.

  • Consider whether there are local facilities that could allow you to continue to operate if your usual working locations are without power during your business hours.

  • There are various Local Resilience Forums to co-ordinate multi-agency response in the event of incidents and emergencies. You can find out who is responsible for co-ordinating the response in your area here.

  • Employees themselves might be personally affected to varying degrees, and it's worth asking line managers to check in on members of their teams, signposting to support as and when appropriate.

  • Remember that the minimum temperature for workplaces in the UK is typically 16° C, or 13° C if employees are doing physical work.

  • Many employers will find themselves in the position where they have to continue to pay staff who are scheduled to work, even though they are not 'open for business'.

    • Your options here are limited as, typically, you can't require them not to work and not pay them.

    • If you find yourself in this position, then please do let us know and we can suggest options that might be available.

For further reading, we would recommend referring to the UK government guidance, How resilient is your business to disaster produced by the Cabinet office.

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