According to analysis by the Resolution Foundation, more than nine million workers are expected to be furloughed under the government’s job retention scheme (JRS), with “50% of companies putting most of their staff into the scheme.”

Businesses’ ability to furlough their staff is crucial in securing jobs for millions of people who might otherwise face redundancy as well as securing long term sustainability of those companies who, if not for the JRS, would be left under-staffed post lockdown.

Positive though it might be, with vast numbers of the workforce placed in furlough, there is a reduced workforce and therefore a reduction in skills. This is a crucial thing to consider for all businesses, but particularly food businesses whose ability to trade safely and compliantly is more important and under scrutiny, than ever before.

NCASS Chairman Bob Fox said: “With such a strong focus on being able to trade and ensuring caterers are trading in line with CV19 protocols, it’s important that we go back to basics and make sure that all businesses are paying attention to health and safety and food safety, just in the way they would have before this outbreak. If you’re following all CV19 regulations but there’s no one in your business who can administer first aid, then you’re going against HSE regulations.” .

Are you covered?

Over the last few weeks, the focus has been very much on the logistics of pivoting food businesses to delivery models, or to providing work for key workers, whether it be at hospitals, warehouses or in prominent financial districts. These were necessary first steps, but we would also urge you to consider the following skills or responsibilities which may now be missing from your operation.


Any person currently working through the CV19 pandemic, will likely have more responsibilities in their role than ever before. If you have staff who were previously only trained to L2 in Food Hygiene and who are still working throughout the pandemic, we urge you to consider training them to L3 as they are extremely likely to be taking on supervisory responsibilities.

Responsible Person

Every food business must have an assigned Responsible Person – that is someone who can adequately respond to allergen enquiries or be able to direct another member of the team to the correct information (i.e. Allergen Matrix in members’ Due Diligence systems.) If this person happens to be furloughed, you must reassign the role of Responsible Person within your business and record the change in your DD system.

Fire safety

The term Responsible Person also applies to those in charge of Fire Safety within a business. Employers/business owners should assume this role, but if they happen to be away from the business, then the role of Responsible Person should be reassigned. As the Responsible Person, you must:

• carry out a fire risk assessment of the premises and review it regularly
• tell staff or their representatives about the risks you’ve identified
• put in place, and maintain, appropriate fire safety measures
• plan for an emergency
• provide staff information, fire safety instruction and training

Fire Extinguisher training is a valuable resource for those without adequate knowledge of fire safety equipment. More here.

First Aid

Needless to say, if the employee who is trained in First Aid is currently furloughed or away from your business, this responsibility needs urgently reassigning. HSE regulations state that every employer has a legal duty to provide first aid for their employees so that they receive immediate attention in the case of being injured or taken unwell at work. First Aid training can be completed quickly and easily online here.


Aside from responsibilities which might need taking over as a matter of law, we also recommend making note of what other daily or weekly tasks your furloughed staff had/have within your business that might be going uncompleted. Whether this is ordering cleaning suppliers, deep-cleaning equipment or scheduling some social media posts, these are all things which helped make your business a success and it’s crucial that they aren’t forgotten.

If you have any questions about any of the information included in this article, please calls us on 0300 124 6866. For a comprehensive list of all our highly-respected training courses, head to

Want our latest content?

Subscribe to our mailing list and get weekly insights, resources and articles for free

Get the emails