|Date:||8th May 2020|
Good afternoon to you and I hope you’re safe and well.
We are now nearly 7 weeks in to the shutdown period and all eagerly awaiting Boris’s address to the nation on Sunday evening. Dominic Raab spoke yesterday in the daily Covid-19 update and I believe chose his words very carefully when speaking about the lifting of some of the restrictions with effect from Monday next week. He was very clear that any decisions made are very much evidence based and if they see the “R” factor increasing, they will reserve the right to reverse any softening of the current rules.
Most of us, if not all, have probably had enough of the restrictions that we are having to adhere to and those expecting some monumental change with effect from Sunday evening, I think are going to be sadly disappointed. I’m expecting very little to be announced that is going to change the current status of our business and I believe it’ll be the start of June before we are allowed to open our showrooms. Regardless as to what Boris says on Sunday evening, under no circumstances should you return to work on Monday unless you’ve specifically been told otherwise. If something that I’m not expecting is announced that allows us to expedite our own re-opening plans, then we will communicate our plans on Monday.
I think the next important date for the business is Monday 18th May, the latest date when the government have to announce what the future plans are for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to allow large businesses who are planning in excess of 100 redundancies to start their process in time to coincide with the current end date of the scheme. The scheme supports businesses in paying up to 80% (conditions apply) of salary costs for employees who have been furloughed as a result of the COVID-19 virus. Currently there are in excess of six million people on furlough leave and the cost to the government is huge. I doubt if the job retention scheme in its current format, will continue beyond the end of June.
The announcement of changes to the CJRS is equally important to us and vital for us to agree and communicate our own plans. Whilst I would love to return to work with very little change from where we left it some weeks ago, the market we believe, will not allow us to do that. We (The Management Board) have been busy with return to work plans and these include financial forecasts which allow us to plan our cash flow. We therefore have to take a view as to the speed of recovery and unfortunately we think it’ll probably be the end of the year before we see business getting back to the levels we enjoyed prior to the shutdown. I therefore need to make you aware that if the CJRS is withdrawn with effect from the end of June, we will also potentially have to make redundancies, albeit the numbers will be far fewer than the 100 mentioned above.
Announcing that we’ll potentially have to make redundancies is difficult news to communicate and if we are forced into taking this action, we will unfortunately lose some incredible people which makes taking these actions even more difficult. Making redundancies will only happen as a last resort and we will consider several other options before we have to formally announce job losses. Hopefully the CJRS will continue and we’ll have the opportunity of returning to work (with many still furloughed) and seeing for ourselves how our customers respond and who knows, the business may bounce back quicker than we thought and allow us to take a different view on job losses.
Our return to work plans are well underway and many changes are being made around the business to ensure we are able to comply with social distancing measures. These include plans to temporarily stagger start times to ensure that everyone does not turn up together, one way systems where possible, restrictions on canteen use, protective screens in place for when customers come into the business, to name but a few. Our return to work document has been attached, however as it is constantly being reviewed this may have changed by the time you are asked to return.
When we do eventually return to work it is really important that we do everything we can to prevent the spreading of the virus and we all have responsibility for this. If you are supposed to be working and are showing any Covid-19 symptoms DO NOT come to work – you must inform your line manager and follow the government guidelines.
We can now confirm that commission, overtime and bonus can be claimed through the CJRS for those furloughed based on average pay over 12 months, up to the maximum of £2,500 per month. Therefore, in May payroll, whilst furloughed you will be paid as above and holiday pay will be included and paid in full for 2 Bank Holidays and any days booked from 1st to 31st May. Please bear with us if you think your holiday is incorrect as some of the holiday has been calculated without managers who are also furloughed, however it will all be rectified as each manager returns.
If you are still furloughed until the end of June (the current end of the CJRS), payroll will be as May with holiday booked from 1st to 30th June being paid in full. As detailed in the handbook we will also pay up to a maximum of 10 days holiday, if you have not already taken these days before 30th June.
We are being as proactive as we can with opening the businesses and with effect from Monday 11th May, we will have circa 10% of all employees working and therefore being paid by the business and not under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Our workshops are slowly opening and we are actively trying to re-build the diary with future bookings and plan to gradually unfurlough more of the team as the bookings allow. Unfortunately, the restrictions on opening the showrooms are different to those in aftersales and these remain closed, albeit we are seeing more and more online enquiries and again are unfurloughing more of the team to deal with these leads.
I do believe that slowly things will get back to normal and whilst it’s easy to be negative about it, the positive part of me says there are 75% of UK workforce who aren’t furloughed and a lot of those currently on furlough leave will remain in employment. I also think the average family in the UK may have different views about foreign travel and their behaviour could see more of these people staying in the UK for the foreseeable, all of this ultimately may be of benefit to the business.
The ‘Return to Work’ guide can be downloaded by clicking the link below: