Boris Johnson prepares 'robust contingency plans' for workplace absences

Boris Johnson tasked ministers with developing “robust contingency plans” for absence from work as the government acknowledged that high levels of Covid could hit businesses hard in the coming weeks.

Public sector executives have been asked to prepare for a worst-case scenario of up to a quarter of employees as the virus continues to spread across the country, the cabinet office said.

Steve Barclay, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, leads “regular meetings” with ministers to assess how the highly transferable variant of Omicron is affecting workforces and supply chains.

He is also closely following the situation in schools before the students return for the new school year.

The department said Mr Johnson had mandated ministers to work with their respective sectors to test preparedness and contingency plans to limit disruption from increasing Covid infections.

It admitted that despite the accelerated booster program, high Covid values ​​and the increased portability of the Omicron variant could mean that companies and public services could be exposed to further disruptions in the coming weeks.

The news comes amid reports that the work from home guide in England could cover most of January.

The Cabinet Office claimed that the disruption caused by Omicron has so far been controlled in “most parts of the public sector”.

However, it is said that public sector executives were asked to test plans against “worst case scenarios” of 10%, 20% and 25% of the workforce absenteeism rates.

In December, the Education Minister called on ex-teachers to help with Covid-related staff shortages in the new year.

The request came amid reports that some schools had very little teacher and student attendance before the Christmas break.

Labor claimed the prime minister had previously been missing “for days” when he should have instructed ministers to draw up contingency plans.

Vice-Chair Angela Rayner said, “Boris Johnson’s lack of leadership means that his administration has hesitated and delayed, leaving contingency planning to the last moment.

“Boris Johnson should have instructed his ministers to start planning weeks ago, but instead went missing for days.

“With record numbers of Covid infections, the prime minister needs to get workforce pressure under control immediately, keep important services moving, keep schools open and keep people safe.”

The latest restrictions set out in the government’s Plan B for England are due to expire six weeks after implementation, with a three-week review expected on or near Tuesday, January 4th.

However, the Daily Telegraph said the review, which is likely slated for MPs to return to Westminster on Wednesday, could see the work from home guidelines remain in place for the second half of the month.

An additional 189,846 laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 cases were recorded in the UK on Friday, another new daily record as the British Medical Association called for further public health action “to prevent total health care overload”.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, statistician at the University of Cambridge and government adviser, said the actual number of daily cases could be closer to half a million.

However, Health Minister Sajid Javid has insisted that restrictions on freedom “must be an absolute last resort”.

The British government was at odds with the decentralized nations in choosing to keep nightclubs open and allow hospitality to operate without further action for New Year celebrations.

In a letter in the Daily Mail on Friday, Mr Javid said, “Since I got into this role six months ago, I have also been very aware of the enormous health, social and economic costs of bans.

“That’s why I was determined that we had to give ourselves the best chance to live next to the virus and avoid strict measures in the future.”

Matthew Taylor, executive director of the NHS Confederation, said the NHS is facing a “perfect storm” of rising Covid hospital admissions and illnesses and an increasing number of sick on the front lines.

Barclay said, “When people return to work after the Christmas break, Omicron’s high portability means businesses and public services will face disruptions in the coming weeks, particularly from above-average staff absenteeism.

“We worked over the Christmas season to prepare as much as possible, with all departments working closely with public and private sector executives who are best placed to operationally manage their workforce.

“The best way to fight Omicron is to get a boost, and I encourage anyone who is now eligible to get a boost.”

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