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6 April 2020

A note from BPIF Chief Executive on 'Essential Services'

A note from BPIF Chief Executive on 'Essential Services'

I thought it would be useful to provide some overall guidance and comment on a question that's being asked regularly of companies in our sector. It's typically a variant of "Am I an essential business, as I'm being asked to prove that I am to show that I can stay open / receive support from a critical supplier who's indicated that they will from now on only support businesses in essential supply chains?"

A further variant is that staff are understandably concerned about their welfare, and are seeking similar confirmation from their employers.

The Government guidance and recommendations are clear. Print companies can stay open, there is no requirement for them too close, and, at the time of writing, there is no Government requirement to prove that they provide an 'essential service'. To clarify - Government have required that some businesses must close.

These are businesses in the leisure, retail and hospitality sectors. The Government have not asked other businesses to close, and, in fact have stated that manufacturing businesses "can and indeed should" stay open.

I am going to add a couple of key points to consider though. Firstly, staff should only travel for work where this work cannot be performed from home - so employers must consider this, and ensure that the work really cannot be done from home. Secondly, employers have the usual responsibilities and duties of care towards employees. Your staff will have concerns, which should be addressed as far as they possibly can. We have provided detailed guidance on the considerations and steps that employers should take on our H&S coronavirus member area -

You may also wish to give staff who do need to travel for work a letter confirming that requirement - we have provided a template for you in the coronavirus area, but, please use this responsibly, and ensure that only staff who really need to travel do so, and the rest work from home.

We are talking on an ongoing basis with Government about the pressures on our sector, and about the concerns that employers and staff have. Much that happens in our sector really is vital - for food supply and distribution, for the pharmaceutical supply chain, for health services, for Government, for transport, to name just some. It is possible that there may be a further requirement for more businesses to cease operating, and we have been working closely with Government to help them understand the essential nature of what many companies in our sector do. We are also keenly aware of the pressure on businesses and individuals throughout our sector, concerns both about welfare, and about livelihoods. We are doing everything we can to ensure that Government is as well informed as possible, as it makes some very hard decisions about protecting public health while seeking to reduce the impact on everyone's livelihoods.

Please continue to let us know whether and how Government support schemes are working, and we will continue to feed that back into Government and seek further support and change where it's needed.

Please also click here to see our article and clarification on ‘Workers travelling to work'.


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