The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has been described as the biggest health challenge since AIDS and an “international public health emergency” by the United Nations health agency.

Whilst the likelihood of Ebola reaching pandemic proportions in the UK is low, your existing business recovery plan may not adequately accommodate it, if it only provides a contingency for a single event. This is because a pandemic recovery plan must provide contingencies spanning over several weeks and months.

When creating a pandemic recovery plan, start with the bare necessities your business needs to function. For example, from where must your business operate and who or what has the skills to run it?

Consider cross training employees so they have interchangeable skills and develop handover procedures. Establish a coordination plan and a ‘communications tree’ which should set out who will coordinate communications and remember to provide contingencies for when the key coordinator is absent too!

If you do not already have a pandemic policy, draft and implement one. The HSE general guidance for employers may prove helpful to this end http://www.hse.gov.uk/biosafety/diseases/pandflu.htm

Finally, plan and expect for your workforce to be seriously depleted. This should include staff who have contracted the virus, are looking after partners or dependants that have contracted the virus, have children who cannot attend school or nursery, because the school has been forced to close as a result of the virus, are afraid to attend or travel to work for fear of catching the virus or cannot get to work because of severe disruptions to public transport caused by the virus.

Raquel Twigger is an employment solicitor with particular expertise in helping businesses to plan, implement and manage all employment related concerns in the workplace. If you require further advice and assistance regarding preparing a pandemic recovery plan please contact her.