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A leading law firm showcased its innovative approach to supporting clients and its own team during the Covid-19 crisis with a breakfast presentation to Hull University Business School.

The event, delivered via Zoom as part of a series of HUBS business breakfasts, saw key figures from Rollits LLP show how the firm’s preparations ensured the smooth running of vital services and supported the introduction of new initiatives specifically geared to the demands of lockdown.

These included essential advice sessions for businesses facing major issues before and during the crisis, and guidance on how to cope with the aftermath. Rollits also used technology to bring together staff for a mixture of fun and formal events.

Rollits has nearly 100 partners and staff across its Hull and York offices and had been running regular physical events through its Employee Forum, including a wellbeing week and yoga sessions. With so many people working from home the firm moved the activities online and presented firm-wide quizzes and sessions with Hull and East Yorkshire Mind to share the benefits of meditation.

At the heart of the firm’s services for clients was the decision to set up a dedicated Business Response team, bringing together specialist lawyers with a range of skills and expertise with the aim of helping businesses to Get SET – survive, emerge and thrive – as they prepare for life after lockdown.

The team has been working with clients to identify and address issues around workplace changes, contracts and other concerns. Jennifer Sewell, who is leading the team, said they are ready to help organisations as they plan for their future both in the short and long term, with agile decision making being crucial moving forward.

Jennifer said: “Our approach in setting up the Business Response Team is to encourage businesses to be proactive.  There is no reason for employers to be fazed by the current situation and to bury their heads in the sand. We have a wide range of expertise within the firm which means that we can keep pace as the situation changes.”

The team is working to support businesses in areas such as dispute resolution, employment, health and safety, finance and restructuring, debt recovery, GDPR, property and corporate recovery and insolvency.

The realism behind the service was underlined during an employment webinar aimed at directors, business owners, senior manager and HR professionals to help them prepare for the end of the furlough scheme. Among the issues covered were the definition of redundancy, interest from volunteers, the requirement to consult, redundancy pools and unique roles, alternative employment and redundancy payments and appeals.

Ed Jenneson, Partner and Head of Employment, said: “Some employers have been asking what their rights are under furlough and if they can still make people redundant. There are also cases where people were already planning to make redundancies but the process stalled because of the lockdown and they now want to resume. For some, Covid-19 has merely delayed the inevitable.

“As a firm we have been very busy throughout lockdown, providing support for businesses. We know from experience that many sectors have been hit very hard, some will be slower than others to recover and they are having to cut their cloth accordingly, which unfortunately means looking at staff costs and potential redundancies.”

Pay Coyle, Client Services Director at Rollits, said: “As a firm we had already been moving towards a more flexible approach to working, strengthening our commitment to mental health and wellbeing, improving communications with clients and ramping up our IT capacity. Lockdown provided a stern examination of all of these issues at once and the feedback suggests we coped very well.”