FAQ’s For Colleague’s

Updated 15/12/2020

Re-Opening/Staffing levels/In General
Question 1 If the occupancy does not require all of the staff including myself how this will be managed fairly. Who would manage the setting during this quiet period?
Answer Ultimately each setting would always need a manager to run the setting.  It maybe that managers will need to do other roles as well, such as work more in the rooms in numbers to keep the staff % sustainable.  If the setting doesn’t need all of the staff we would have to consider who could work elsewhere or could the whole team reduce contracted hours across the setting.  We would see redundancy as the last resort once Furlough has ended.
Question 2 What is the likelihood of shorter days lay off and redundancies?
Answer We don’t know at the moment, we are all working hard to increase occupancy levels and sales are driving enquiries and bookings to ensure conversions are made to increase occupancy levels across the business.  Whilst each week monitoring occupancy levels and staffing costs, many nurseries are now very close to not having to reduce staffing levels, plus if another nursery has a covid outbreak they can be relocated temporarily, which will keep staff hours up.
Question 3 When returning back from Furlough will our salary be remaining on 80% or will this go back up to 100% – need to know for budgeting purposes.
If 80% pay will that be us also working our full hours per week or dropping down to a 4 day week?
Answer You are only paid 80% furlough when on furlough.  When back at work you will be paid for the hours you work or contract hours.
Question 4 I’m on my probationary period, how will this affect me with regard to redundancy, last one in first one out?
Answer In terms of your probationary period this won’t be affected.  Redundancies are our last resort should the need for redundancies arise, it will be based on criteria and the needs of the setting/children in the setting.  We are not ruling out last one in first time out if everything else is equal.
Question 5 If you are on furlough will you will be first to be laid off?
Answer No that isn’t the case, different criteria were used for furlough – health, dependents/children, and then occupancy.  Lays off will not be based on health nor dependents, but on needs of the nursery/children and the skills/qualifications/training, and possibly working availability of colleagues to match those.
Question 6 Am I understanding correctly that in a 13 week period, lay off could be for no more than 6 weeks and that this would be unpaid?
Answer Yes that is correct
Question 7 Can I be placed on Furlough if I am self-isolating or unwell due to COVID
Answer No Furlough is in place in the event that the company does not have work or hours for you to fulfil.  If you are unwell or self-isolating due to COVID or any other reason so that you are absent from work, you would need to obtain a fit note and be placed on SSP, using this link https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/caring-carers-and-long-term-conditions/when-do-i-need-a-fit-note/
Short time/reducing hours
Question 8 Short time working, if this meant returning to work I would be willing to work less than my contracted hours so that I was still earning an income for example I have a 40hour contract, if I could return to work at 32 hours (meaning I was working 80% of my contract) until occupancy picked up would this be a viable option?
Answer Yes it would be, thank you.  If everyone offers this in a nursery that is overstaffed then we are a lot less likely to have to dismiss anyone or make anyone redundant
Question 9 How will the short time working or layoffs be worked out? Will this be shared between staff and how often could we expect this to happen?
Answer It would involve the whole team, whilst considering the needs of the business.  We will do it as fairly as we possibly can, including consulting with individuals.  Managers will have a very strong role in deciding who they need on their teams.
Question 10 Can we volunteer to do shorten days/Hours?
Answer Yes colleagues can volunteer to work shorter days and hours, and this would help reduce dismissals and redundancies if the numbers do drop as we are expecting.
Question 11 What sort of notice would we get for each option?
Answer We would keep you informed and give you notification, we are unable to say what the advance notice period would be. However please take into consideration we undertake the scheduling on a Tuesday each week across Tops, but many parents book a month in advance so this will be part of the process.
Question 12 Short Time Working: Point 3

Refers to a maximum statutory payment of £30 set by Government. I’m not aware of this Government policy, so can you please provide a link to the relevant GOV.UK policy web page?

Answer https://www.gov.uk/lay-offs-short-timeworking/guarantee-pay
Question 13 Can I get a temporary job whilst laid off
Answer Yes, as long as there isn’t a conflict of interest, eg you are setting up in competition, and you will need to get permission from your line manager, but that won’t be unreasonably withheld.
Question 14 Can I claim benefits after day 8 of being paid £30
Answer Citizen advice stated while you are laid off or on short time working you might be able to claim benefits like Universal Credit – https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/benefits-introduction/what-benefits-can-i-get/
Personal Finances/Contract changes
Question 15 From a personal perspective, I am concerned about my finances if I am laid off or not working my complete contracted hours. I understand many people are in the same position however, I have a family and a mortgage that I need to ensure is safe. I have worked at Tops since June 2016. I have contacted the Unison for some advice in this to as I am confused how a contract can be changed without agreement from myself? I am getting the understanding that I can either agree to the new terms or they will get changed without my agreement anyway? Is this correct?
Answer We are delighted with your loyalty to the Tops family and totally understand your concerns about your finances, in common with everyone else.

Voluntary redundancy is not an option at the moment, instead we are asking colleagues to accept these amended terms, in line with government guidelines, in order to avoid redundancies.

The company must consult with you first, and obtain your agreement, but then has the legal right to amend your T&C’s without your consent if necessary – but then you also have rights to resign and claim constructive dismissal and take us to a tribunal (which will take about 2 years).  Obviously this is the last thing that anyone wants.

Question 16 Have I got the option for voluntary redundancy? What is the process for this? I would like to believe that after working for the company for 14 years I would be entitled to redundancy?
Answer No we aren’t looking at voluntary redundancy at this point, nor at compulsory redundancy, this what we are hoping to avoid as it could put whole nurseries at risk and if people are made redundant their job security in any new job is non existent.
Casual and Other Contracts
Question 17 How do these changes of laying off affect my casual contract
Answer Layoffs do not affect casual contracts, casual contracts are zero hours – you only get paid when you work. Those on casual contracts may get less work if the children numbers do not recover, and if regular colleagues are back at work.
Question 18 Can the company disregard any personal holiday plans at will, and even not meet its statutory obligations to provide reasonable notice periods. This would seem at best unreasonable, so could you clarify
Answer The Company reserves the right to require you to take holidays on particular dates including during any notice period. You will be given reasonable notice of any such requirement, which may be less than is required under statute.  Therefore we aren’t saying that we won’t meet our statutory obligation for notice period, as the point is in regards to holiday not notice periods.
Staff Children
Question  19 ‘Does the 6 hour minimum booking still apply to staff children?’
Answer Despite previously being waivered, during lockdown.  The 6 hour minimum was reinstated as of the 12/10/2020.  The only time it wouldn’t be charged is when a nursery is unable to take the child through lack of staff.
Holiday whilst on Furlough
Question 20 I am on a TTO contract, how does this apply to me?
Answer TTO holiday pay is calculated annually and then divided into 12, so each month you gain 1/12th of your holiday in your monthly salary.  Therefore whilst on Furlough or not working due to school holidays, 20% will be deducted from your monthly pay, until a point where Furlough has ended.
Question 21 I have been taking 1 day off each week as holiday, what happens to my holiday entitlement?
Answer You can continue to take 1 day’s holiday a week, until your half a year’s holiday allowance has been reached, unless you go on furlough, then you can take more.
Question 22 Some colleagues are rotating furlough 3 weeks on and 3 weeks off for example how would this then work?
Answer Furlough Holiday would apply to them in the same way, when they are on Furlough.  Bear in mind furlough finished 30/10/2020
Question 23 Pregnant staff- would like to use all holiday before going on mat leave would this be possible?
Answer Yes you can
Returning back to work
Question 24 I have been informed that I may be required back to work and I have read through all the risk assessments and appreciate the changes and hard work everyone is doing to help keep everyone safe with the Covid19.  I however still do not feel safe to return work yet.
Answer We would never force anyone to work, and we won’t dismiss you for not working at this point, but you would be absent without leave, and without pay, if you choose not to return to work when asked.  It is also not fair that others have come in but you refuse and it would also set a precedent for all parents with children that we cannot permit at this time.  However we cannot allow you to be absent from work indefinitely, so we have to consider alternative action in line with the absence policy which could lead to disciplinary or termination of your employment contact with us in due course.  Absence when furlough has ended is effectively resignation.
Question 25 Can a colleague be brought back from Furlough Holiday?
Answer Of course a colleague can be recalled back from furlough (as long as they have already completed 3 weeks of furlough) or furlough holiday.
Question 26 Can I claim SSP for self-isolating and coronavirus symptoms?
Answer Please check the government website for up to date information


Question 27 Will I need a track and trace number?
Answer Track and trace numbers are given to you by the NHS in the event you have tested positive for the Coronavirus
Question 28 What steps is the company taking to protect me from Coronavirus?
Answer Please see the current H&S Risk assessments.

Posted in: General