Responding to the potential business impacts of COVID-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) can cause potentially significant people, social and economic implications for organisations. This page provides information on how you can prepare your organisation and respond.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organisation, causing huge impact on people's lives, families and communities.

As the international response continues to develop, we know that organisations are facing several potentially significant challenges to which they need to respond rapidly. We are working closely with organisations globally to help them in preparing and responding, sharing our experience having worked with companies, governments, regulators, NGOs and international organisations around the world to respond to some of the most high profile outbreaks (including Ebola, MERS, SARS and bird flu).

If your organisation has been, or potentially will be, affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) then here are the key areas that our advisors recommend you consider.


Crisis planning

From our experience, a strongly developed crisis response capability is required to ensure the efficient management of incidents in order to minimise associated negative impacts, meet government priorities around maintenance and confidence, and to ensure the continued delivery of critical national infrastructure. Many organisations have these plans in place for the workplace and supply chain but COVID-19 has already unveiled flaws in some. Given the unknown variables surrounding the outbreak, it is important to review crisis and business continuity plans, develop different scenarios and put them to the test.

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Rick Crethar

Australian Global Crisis Centre Leader, Sydney, PwC Australia

+61 2 8266 7809

Email

Effective communication

We are already starting to see mixed messaging on preventing the spread of the virus via the media and negativity across the general public towards others who are wrongly believed to have contracted the virus is becoming a regular news item. Proactive communication for all stakeholder groups, based on factual information, is essential to manage public perception of the outbreak, minimise misinformation and associated panic, and reduce the detrimental impact on the economy and individuals.

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Rick Crethar

Australian Global Crisis Centre Leader, Sydney, PwC Australia

+61 2 8266 7809

Email

Workforce

Whilst the priority remains human welfare, we are hearing about other employee challenges. Examples include establishing the tax position of people who are moving between countries on an emergency basis, through to companies having to plan on putting production lines on pause due to supply chain issues, with the associated potential impact of asking employees to temporarily stop work.

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Peter Wheeler

Partner, Melbourne, PwC Australia

+61 (3) 8603 6504

Email

Ben Neal

Partner, Canberra, PwC Australia

+61 2 6271 3471

Email

Supply chain

Where clients are reliant on supply chains in affected areas, rapidly depleting stock levels are becoming a significant risk and clients are working through strategies for alternative sourcing. In certain cases, clients are showing signs of distress and stakeholders (eg. lenders) are concerned about the future viability of the business. We are discussing different potential scenarios and what these mean for their operations, for example, as cases of viral transmission emerge in different territories.

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Simon Gillies

Partner, Management Consulting Leader, Melbourne, PwC Australia

+61 3 8603 0754

Email

Donna Watt

National Retail & Consumer Leader, Melbourne, PwC Australia

613 8603 3136

Email

Focus on information

From our experience working with various organisations during the Ebola and MERS outbreaks, the lack of complete and accurate information was preventing well-considered decisions being made regarding the resources needed to control the outbreak and treat infected individuals. Capturing the correct information and verifying its reliability is vital. Reliable information underpins both crisis planning and response and allows organisations to make informed decisions.

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Rick Crethar

Australian Global Crisis Centre Leader, Sydney, PwC Australia

+61 2 8266 7809

Email

Global mobility

With the cancellation of flight services, and people movements being restricted in some countries as a result of the COVID-19, employers who have a globally mobile workforce in the Asia Pacific need to consider; the impact of travel restrictions, tax residency status, taxation of employment income in Australia, Australian PAYG obligations and other employer obligations.

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Carter Bovard

Asia-Pacific Immigration Practice Leader | MARN: 0956696, Melbourne, PwC Australia

+61 3 8603 1879

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Jonathan Dunlea

Global Mobility Australia Practice Leader, Melbourne, PwC Australia

+61 3 8603 5424

Email

Norah Seddon

People & Organisation Tax Leader, Sydney, PwC Australia

+61 2 8266 5864

Email

Business continuation

Having a clearly defined plan in place to deal with an unforeseen crisis such as coronavirus (COVID-19) is a critical component to protecting the ongoing success and viability of your business. In situations such as this, protecting people should be the primary focus for businesses, however, cash flow is often the next most critical area.

We have outlined an approach that we recommend should be adopted by businesses to:

  • determine the potential impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on your business; and then to
  • create an action plan to manage risk and keep business interruption to a minimum.

We recommend that all businesses likely to be affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) act without delay to assess the potential implications and develop a plan to mitigate risk and remain operational.

Our five-stage approach to managing coronavirus risk in your business

 

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Stephen Longley

Partner, PwC Australia

+61 3 8603 3203

Email

Michael Fung

Partner, Melbourne, PwC Australia

+61 3 8603 1147

Email

Implications for your organisation?

Our PwC Crisis and Resilience teams across the network are experienced in working with companies, governments, regulators, NGOs and international organisations around the world, helping them to prepare for and respond to some of the most high profile pandemics, including Ebola, MERS, SARS, H1N1 (swine flu) and H5N1 (bird flu). Key areas that we provide support include:  

  • Developing and assessing crisis and response plans

  • Designing and implementing timely and targeted communications 

  • Managing, collecting and identifying patient treatment data

Get in touch if you would like to discuss the implications for your organisation. 

Contact us

PwC Australia

General enquiries, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 0000

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