Businesses to have ‘freedom in a framework’

Businesses to have ‘freedom in a framework’

BLOG · BY Nick Boulton, Head of Technical and Trade · 28 April 2020

It looks like business will have ‘freedom in a framework’, with the Government tipped to opt for a principle rather than prescriptive based approach according to workplaces rather than sectors.

It feels like a week for a change of gear, as both business and government talk on how to exit hibernation and start recovery.

Pressure is growing to have more clarity about planning for some form of restart, but not necessarily businesses recommencing work yet.

There is a critical need for further discussion, but we all need to be pointing in the same direction, with shared principles.

Discussions with the Confederation of Business Industries and our partners means we are striving for a sustainable health first approach, with a sequenced approach to returning to work.

Success will need a unified approach on an universal level, between big businesses and nations, as well as between employers, employees and unions .

As we continue to advocate, when the UK does return to work it should be to build back a better, more sustainable vison with a new and different economy.

There is no acceptable trade-off between people’s lives and the economy, and we need to find ways to recommence work safely at all levels.

A restart must be based on trust, so we need to build this across the economy, and within each business in order to maintain confidence and reputation in the UK.

While it is still early days, it has been interesting to see the health first approach being used by businesses beginning to reopen within current guidelines.

Social distancing measures have been agreed and understood, and are now being adopted and adapted by businesses, with supermarkets the most widely seen example.

While no overall plan has come from the UK government, a ‘freedom within a framework’ approach is being floated.

This approach suggests businesses should consider what combination of different kinds of workplace they have, how each may be different and need to be dealt with differently.

Taking a workplace rather than sector approach stands in distinction to other nations approach, but considering the varying risks within a business it may be a sensible way forward.

Six groups are being set up BEIS (Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) to consider different workplaces and create protocols and guidance for each.

A ‘workplace group’ for office-based tasks is already underway this weekend, with manufacturing, leisure and wellbeing, logistics and distribution, non-food retail will follow.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation, and will be feeding back information between our members to the Government and CBI on the proposed approach.

If you have any feedback on the below points, please send them to with the subject line ‘Freedom in a framework – Feedback’.

  • Is ‘freedom within a framework’ the right approach?
  • Are the workplace categories right?
  • What must government do to restart the enablers of public transport and schools?
  • What messages are needed to ensure public support for businesses restarting?
  • How must support measures be adapted to support return to work timetable?
  • What new measures are necessary to support the sectors that will exit last?