Our Response to COVID-19

Results of Risk Assessment for Return to Work Following COVID-19 Lockdown

Polar Capital continues to closely monitor the situation regarding COVID-19 (coronavirus), taking into account guidance from the Public Health England (PHE), the World Health Organisation, the National Health Service (NHS), the UK government and regulators. Throughout this period, the health and wellbeing of our staff, clients and contractors remain our top priority.

On 11 May 2020, the UK government set out guidance for organisations returning to work during the coronavirus pandemic. Their specific guidance on managing risk can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/offices-and-contact-centres.

We have assessed the risks associated with returning to work and implemented a series of measures to manage and reduce these risks. Our objective is to ensure a safe return to work that reduces risk to staff, visitors and contractors, complies with government guidance and allows as many business activities as possible to resume safely. We will take all staff into consideration, including those who cannot attend the site due to vulnerabilities or caring responsibilities. This activity is under the oversight of the Polar Capital COVID-19 Executive Management Team.

The safety of our colleagues, clients and business partners is our foremost priority. We have adapted well to remote working and been able to continue to serve our clients safely, support our people and maintain our business through these challenging times.

We have carefully implemented a range of measures and adapted our working practices to adhere to government guidelines. The key measures are outlined in this document.

I am extremely proud of the professionalism, hard work and co-operative spirit shown by my Polar Capital colleagues, who are committed to ensuring Polar Capital continues to deliver outstanding results throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

There remains the risk of a second wave of infections that could impact our staff. I believe we are well positioned, having built a resilient business, and have shown an ability to adapt while keeping a strong ‘can-do’ culture.

We are all impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and, co-operatively, we will get through it together.

The Risk Assessment

Polar Capital has compiled a comprehensive risk assessment that identifies the risks and outlines the controls that have been put in place to manage and mitigate those risks for the safety of staff, clients and contractors.

COVID-19 is a new illness that affects lungs and airways and is the name of the infectious disease caused by the most recently discovered coronavirus. Symptoms can be mild, moderate, severe or fatal. We believe COVID-19 poses a medium/high risk to the business and have taken significant steps at to address the risks.

Cleaning, Washing and Hygiene

Maintaining high standards of cleanliness and hygiene is essential for preventing the spread of the virus. The following key actions have been taken:

  • We have installed handwashing facilities and alcohol hand sanitisers across all our work locations.
  • We have provided antibacterial wipes and/or spray for colleagues to use on desk areas.
  • We have increased the daytime cleaning schedule to strengthen the cleaning of high touch points and communal areas.
  • We use appropriate viricidal cleaning products and regularly check stock levels to ensure we have adequate supplies.
  • We regularly communicate the requirement and importance of maintaining high personal hygiene and frequently washing hands, consistent with government guidance, to all colleagues.

Physical Distancing

Maintaining physical distancing is essential for preventing the spread of the virus. The following key actions are in place:

  • We have restricted the number of staff members in the office at any one time.
  • We have installed a one-way system in the office.
  • Office seating plans have been redesigned to ensure physical distancing is in place.
  • Steps have been taken to review work schedules including staggered start/finish times, splitting teams, etc where necessary to reduce the number of workers on site at any one time.
  • Virtual meetings will be used instead of face-to-face meetings wherever possible until physical distancing guidelines change.
  • Numbers are restricted in areas of confined space within the office such as kitchens, toilets, photocopying areas and the stationery room.
  • Only those staff member who can commute to work in a physically distanced manner will return to the office initially
  • Any visitors to the office are to be directed to comply rigorously with the physical distancing guidelines.

Working From Home

Where our staff are working from home, we have put the following steps in place to support them:

  • Specific IT equipment requirements for staff have been identified and equipment purchased as necessary to enable working from home.
  • Staff have been allocated an appropriate budget to purchase office furniture for homeworking to ensure working from home can be done in comfort and safety.
  • All homeworking staff are required to complete display screen equipment training and home working training.
  • Following homeworking risk self-assessments, equipment requirements have been identified and addressed for homeworking staff where necessary.

Staff Mental Health and Wellbeing

Management has promoted mental health and wellbeing awareness to staff during the coronavirus outbreak and will continue to offer whatever support we can, including:

  • Promotion of the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to all staff with access to a wide range of support materials including a telephone advice line, counselling sessions, etc.
  • Promotion of paid, anonymous therapy sessions to staff members with a company-appointed psychotherapist.
  • Monitoring wellbeing of colleagues who are working from home and helping them stay connected to assist their wellbeing.

We hope this document provides the reassurance that at Polar Capital, we are doing everything we can to protect our colleagues during this difficult time. If you need more information, please get in touch.