Covid-19

Employee FAQs

Questions and answers for those colleagues who have been designated as furloughed workers

We are constantly reviewing our guidance and policies and the following advice is correct as of Tuesday 26th May 2020. Please note as the situation progresses we will continue to review our approach and it is subject to change in the future.

On these pages, you can find answers to many of your frequently asked questions. If you have a question that’s not covered, please contact your Area Manager or the People Team (peopleteam@pfpleisure.org).

What does furlough mean and why does this impact me?
You remain contractually engaged with the Group and can be reinstated back into your ‘current’ contractual role as soon as the demand for work resumes.

You are guaranteed a payment until you are recalled to work, or the end of July 2020 (whichever is sooner) while you are furloughed through a Government support scheme called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The Group can claim the Grant through our Payroll system to reclaim a proportion of your normal pay.

We are aware that the CJRS has been extended to the end of October 2020. The Chancellor has said that from the start of August, there will be changes to the retention scheme. More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of May and once we know what this means we will communicate with you.

How does it work? (updated!)

You remain contractually engaged with the Group and can be reinstated back into your ‘current’ contractual role as soon as the demand for work resumes.  

You are guaranteed a payment until you are recalled to work, or the end of July 2020 (whichever is sooner) while you are furloughed through a Government support scheme called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).  The Group can claim the Grant through our Payroll system to reclaim a proportion of your normal pay.

We are aware that the CJRS has been extended to the end of October 2020.  The Chancellor advised that the changes will allow more flexibility from the start of August. More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of May and once we know what this means we will communicate with you.

Is there anything I need to do?
In order for us to use the CJRS grant, you will not be able undertake any work for Places Leisure or the wider Places for People Group while you are furloughed. The Government has stipulated that we must obtain confirmation from you that you acknowledge that you have been asked to stop working and you have agreed that you will not undertake any work for us or any other group company during the furlough period. As this is a strict requirement we will write to you separately about that (you may have already received this and consented). If you do receive this, it’s really important that you respond to confirm your agreement as quickly as possible as we need your agreement in order to be able to make a claim for some of your employment costs from the Government. We are relying on this clam to maintain your pay so it is vital that you respond to the email sent to you asking for your agreement to the above.

Will I still have to pay tax and national insurance?

While on furlough, your pay will be subject to usual national insurance, income tax and other deductions.

I have a mixture of casual and permanent posts, will my pay be based on all of these? 

If you hold separate permanent and casual posts, where the casual post is not the same as your permanent post, you will receive a payment calculated on both posts. If you have casual posts which you did not work in February, you will only receive payment based on the casual positions you did work in February, and / or for your permanent position.

I carry out Personal Training off shift/ 1-1s for swim teaching, will I be paid for this? 
If you carry out PT off shift, or teach private lessons on a 1-1 basis, you will receive payment for this during the furlough period. This will be calculated as an average of your monthly earnings for PT/1-1s from the 2019/20 tax year (pro-rated if you have been in service for a shorter period).

I work casually. How will my furlough pay be calculated? 

As an example only:

A casual employee who has been employed with us since 6th April 2019 works in June 2019, September 2019, December 2019 & February 2020. They were furloughed on 23rd March 2020 and their total earnings since 6th April 2019 is £2,000.

Earnings divided by the number of days in the tax year is £2,000/352 = £5.68 per day.

Furlough days in April 2020 from 23rd March to 15th April are 24.

Furlough pay in April - £5.68*24 = £136.32

Can I do some ad hoc work whilst furloughed?
No. To be eligible for the subsidy, when on furlough, you cannot undertake work for or on behalf of the Group.

Can I work reduced hours and be furloughed?
If you are working, but on reduced hours, or for reduced pay, you will not be eligible for this scheme.

I am on sick leave – can I be furloughed?
You cannot be furloughed whilst you are off sick or self-isolating.

I am currently shielding in line with public health guidance – can I be furloughed?
Yes - if you are currently shielding in line with public health guidance (this means you will have received an official letter from the NHS telling you to shield), you can be furloughed.

I am a new or recent new starter – can I be furloughed?
Colleagues hired after 28 February 2020 cannot be furloughed.

Can I stay in touch with my team whilst furloughed? 
Yes you can and you are free to invite your team to join calls/video conferences etc. but only for the purposes of keeping in touch and not to discuss work. However, this must be voluntary for all concerned i.e. anyone is free to join or decline. In order to enable us to claim the CJRS grant, it is essential that “staying in touch” does not involve anyone on furlough being asked to do any work.

How long can I be furloughed for? (Updated!)
This is unknown at the moment as the Coronavirus situation is not predictable and the pressures placed on the business are changing constantly. However, your furlough period will last at least 3 weeks. You are guaranteed a payment under the Government CJRS until the end of July 2020, or you are recalled to work, whichever is sooner of the two. Any changes to your furlough pay and calculations under this scheme will be communicated to you if required.

Will I be made redundant after the 31st May 2020? (New!)
The purpose of the CJRS is to enable us to maintain our current workforce on their current terms and conditions and wherever possible to avoid redundancies. We will be utilising the Scheme whilst it is necessary and still available, or you are required to return back to work. As and when the Government release further information about how and when we may be permitted to re-open our leisure centres, we will communicate with all of our staff about the effect this might have on their employment with us.

What about annual leave I have booked?
If you have already booked time off for annual leave which would take place during the furlough period you will be required to take that leave.

What about my pension?
The Group will continue to make the same employer and employee pension contributions at the same percentage from the point at which a colleague is furloughed but the pay used to calculate the contributions will be based on the rate of pay in force for each pay period of the furlough.

When will I need to go back to work?
We anticipate that this furlough will be a temporary situation however, we cannot currently confirm a specific date when you would return to work. We will, of course, keep in touch throughout this period to notify you of any changes. We may recall you to work at any time during the furlough.

We will try to give you notice of a return date and will put together a plan. However, in order to protect you, your colleagues and the business, we may ask you to return with only a few hours’ or a days’ notice. In the event that you are recalled to work, your status as a furloughed worker would cease and normal rules and policies would apply.

What if I don’t want to come back on the date requested by my manager?
You are obliged under the temporary agreement to return to work when requested. If you do not, then you would be breaking the terms of the agreement and disciplinary action may be taken. If you cannot return as you are self-isolating or unwell, please keep your manager informed.

What if I become ill while I am furloughed – do I need to inform my manager? 
If you are sick during the furlough period you will continue to receive pay at the pay rates as set out in the letter we have sent to you explaining the terms that will apply during the furlough period. The period of sickness will not count as sickness for the purposes of our sickness absence rules and therefore you will not be treated as absent for reasons connected to sickness during this furlough period and you will not receive sick pay.

I work for another employer – can I be furloughed?
If you have more than one job, through different employers, you can be furloughed for each job.

Can I take part in volunteering work?
Yes. A furloughed colleague can take part in volunteer work or training, as long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of the Group.

Can I seek temporary alternative employment? 
Yes, subject to normal rules around avoiding potential conflicts of interest or anything that may bring the name of your employer or the Group into disrepute. However, you must be able to return to your role with us as soon as we ask you to do so. It is therefore important that you do not create a situation where you may be unavailable or uncontactable for prolonged periods. In the event that you are recalled to work, your status as a furloughed worker would cease and normal rules and policies would apply.

I have found another job and would like to leave Places for People, what notice do I need to give?
If you wish to resign from your employment please notify us of this. You may still be required to return to work during your notice period.

I am a lifeguard - how will I ensure that my qualifications are up to date as I will not be attending staff training? (Updated!)
You will be encouraged to complete the RLSS training through the online portal, details of which have been circulated in the ‘Lifeguard Training FAQs’. All Lifeguards will be required to complete a practical water-based competency test prior to re-commencing Lifeguarding duties.

Can I continue studying for my apprenticeship? (Updated!)
If you are completing an apprenticeship with Lifetime Training, your Regional Trainer will have already contacted you to discuss continuing with your learning during the period of furlough Learners will be able to spend 20% of their normal hours working towards their apprenticeship. All other apprenticeship providers will continue but should this change they will contact their learners directly.

Will the National Minimum Wage (NMW) increases still be applied?
Our original response to this question was incorrect, and following more guidance from Government, we can now confirm that your pay will be calculated based on your normal pay in February 2020 for employees / your average monthly earnings from the 2019/20 tax year (pro-rated if you have been in service for a shorter period) for casual staff who worked in February 2020. This means that the NMW increases will be applied when you return to work.

Can I continue to contact my team members for regular updates?
Yes, you continued to be a valued colleague and we would like you remain in contact with your manager and your colleagues.

Will I be asked to complete any training ahead of re-opening? (New!)
Yes, you may be contacted in the weeks leading up to re-opening to carry out training in preparation of returning to work.

Will I continue to have access to my work email account and Quinyx?
Yes, you will continue to have access, but you will not be expected to complete any work. All key communication will be provided to you via email and Qmail.

What will happen with my annual leave? 
During the furlough period you will continue to accrue annual leave at the rate set out in your contract of employment. If you have any annual leave that you had pre booked before the site closure, this will continue as originally approved and we will not be able to authorise the cancelling or postponing of this leave. Any annual leave you take while on furlough will be paid at your usual holiday rate, even if you are receiving less than this while on furlough.

What will happen to Bank Holidays? (updated!)

You would have received two separate communications about the April and May Bank Holiday arrangements . The arrangements are as follows:

  • If you are salaried and contracted and your normal working day falls on a Bank Holiday, we will require you to take two days (pro-rated) holiday over the bank holidays at Easter (10th and 13th April 2020) and one day (pro-rated) holiday for each of the two May Bank holidays (9th May 2020 and 25th May 2020).
  • If you are salaried and contracted and you do not usually work the bank holidays, we will require you to take two days (pro-rated) holiday within the week of Easter.
  • If you are casual and accrue annual leave for each hour that you work, we will require you to use your accrued annual leave entitlement, up to a maximum of 16 hours for the Easter Bank Holiday and the same amount again for May Bank Holidays.

Will you ask me to take more annual leave during this furlough period?
The Company does have the right to advise employees when to take a period of annual leave during the furlough period. In the event you are asked to take leave you will receive a request in writing from the Company notifying you that you are required to take annual leave, with confirmation of the leave period. In the event this does occur you will receive 100% of your pay (based on February 2020). You can also request annual leave and in the interim period this can be requested by advising the People Team (peopleteam@pfpleisure.org).

I have resigned from one of my posts will I continue to be furloughed from this post? 
Changes (perm or casual posts ending) that happened between the 28th February and the 23rd March will not be furloughed and no payment will be received under the retention scheme for this post.
Changes (perm or casual post ending) that happened after 23rd March will be furloughed until the leave date of that post and then no furloughed payment will be received for that post.
We will not be able to accept any retractions of resignations due to the current situation we are in.

I changed my hours in March will my furlough pay be based on my new hours? 
No, the current guidance from Government is that payment will be based on what your pay was on the 28th February 2020 (as this was the pay period prior to 19th March 2020). Therefore, any changes to hours at any point in March and onwards do not apply to the furlough payment received.

I transferred from a permanent post to a new permanent post will my furlough pay be based on my new role? 
No, the current guidance from Government is that payment will be based on what your pay was on the 28th February 2020 (as this was the pay period prior to 19th March 2020). Therefore, any changes at any point in March and onwards do not apply to the furlough payment received.

How will my furloughed pay be calculated if I have a salary sacrifice arrangement? 
If you sacrifice some of your salary for Childcare Vouchers, Cycle to Work or Company Car, by way of example only, if your current salary is £24,000 but you have sacrificed £2,400 of your salary (for example to buy a bike and pay towards childcare – so your taxable salary is reduced to £21,600), your pay will be calculated as 80% of your £21,600, post-sacrifice salary. Your gross taxable monthly pay during furlough leave will therefore be £1,440 (80% of £1,800, which is the monthly equivalent of £21,600).

Why are my repayments/deductions only suspended/deferred? 
Your existing salary sacrifice arrangements are in place to allow you to make purchases such as for childcare vouchers or a bike – and in so doing to benefit from tax relief. The full value of your purchase is treated as a loan from us to you and is repaid through monthly deductions. We are doing what we can to support you during this difficult time, but we are not able to write off these ‘loans’.

Can I give my bike or car back? 
No, this is not possible.

My child’s nursery is still expecting me to pay all or part of the usual nursery fees – can I continue with my salary sacrifice arrangement?
Yes – you will need to inform payroll as soon as possible. The business cannot be held liable for any delay on your part which results in your nursery not being paid or being paid late.

How will the suspension / deferral work in practice?
Using the above example: If, at the time you went on furlough, you owed the business £2,200 (having only made one monthly repayment / deduction in April) as part of your salary sacrifice arrangement, you would still owe £2,200 on your return to work. The outstanding amount would then be repayable on your return to work.