FAQ’s For Colleague’s

Re-Opening/Staffing levels/In General
Question 1 Is my setting planning to be re-opened?
Answer Yes, we are planning to open all settings to all children who wish to come on June 1st, apart from Copnor because it’s in a gym and they aren’t expected to re-open until maybe July.  Parents have been invoiced for June and we are expecting occupancy to be around 30-50%, so around half of all colleagues will need to be back at work.
Question 2 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? Our setting is quieter due to school leavers and always picks up again January despite the current COVID situation.
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 admin or work more in the rooms in numbers to keep the staff % sustainable.  If the setting doesn’t not need all of the staff it had in March then we would have to consider who could work elsewhere, could the whole team reduce contracted hours across the setting.  Redundancy would be based on criteria pools for which we are hoping to get in place mid-May should the government not extend Furlough fully beyond July 31st, but this will be manager led – what positions does each nursery need if there are fewer children.
Question 3 Is it best that they look for another job
Answer No, we are very much hopeful that all settings will need colleagues once they re-open and families return to use our services.  If it looks like we need to reduce weekly hours we will let you know as soon as possible as some people might like to take on an additional part time job.
Question 4 What is the likelihood of shorter days lay off and redundancies
Answer We don’t know at the moment, it will depend on what the government decides in terms of continuing lockdown and what Furlough will look like past the 31st July and what bookings look like for July onwards.  We are expecting maybe a 15-25% drop in bookings but it may also be that some colleagues are not well enough to return, or do not want to return which could even out.
Furlough
Question 5 As Furlough is extended till the end of October, would furlough still be an option for staff rather than being laid off?
Answer It will very much depend on what the government’s proposals are in relation to applying Furlough as of the 1st August through to the end of October, we already know that the government will not continue to pay Furlough at the rate of 80% and that companies will be expected to share the furlough costs. We are waiting for further advice and guidance from the government before we can confirm the exact details to colleagues.
Question 6 Would this mean we would carry on with the ‘furlough’ until you let us know otherwise?
Furlough is in place at 80% until the 31st July, after that point we don’t know what will happen as the government haven’t confirmed what the next steps will be other than to say that it will not be fully funded.  With nurseries opening as of the 1st June we are expecting more colleagues to be required to return from Furlough as we move through June and to stop using furlough from 1st August, but that could change.
Question 7 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 As it stands at the moment your salary upon your return from Furlough will increased back up to 100% if you are working your contract hours up until the 31st July, past this date we are not sure how we can apply Furlough so it could be a mixture of working part time with the remainder of ours being taken as Furlough. We are not sure and still waiting governments advice but recommend you budget on 80% to  be safe.
Question 8 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 9 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, then occupancy.  Lays off will not be based on health nor dependents, but on needs of the nursery/children and the skills/qualifications and possibly working availability of colleagues to match those.
Question 10 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
Short time/reducing hours
Question 11 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 then we are a lot less likely to have to dismiss anyone or make anyone redundant
Question 12 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 13 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 14 What sort of notice would we get for each option?
Answer We would keep you informed and give you notification, I am 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 15 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 16 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 17 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 18 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 19 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 existant.
Maternity
Question 20 I will be due to go on maternity looking at the start of July will this have any effect on my maternity
Answer No your maternity will continue as normal.
Casual and Other Contracts
Question 21 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.
Holiday
Question 22 Holiday: Point 3

Seems to suggest that the company can 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 that this is not what was intended?

Answer Point 3 states: 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 23 ‘Does the 6 hour minimum booking still apply to staff children?’
Answer The Board have agreed that we will waiver the 6 hour minimum booking for staff children if the parent/colleague has not returned to work. We should still encourage staff children to attend Nursery, due to the benefits for the children.
  Holiday whilst on Furlough
Question 24 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 25 I am due to go on maternity leave in June, I am currently on Furlough at the moment.  However I have 2 weeks holiday booked for the last 2 weeks in June, before I go on maternity leave.  How will this email affect me?
Answer It will not affect you at all, will continue to take annual leave before your maternity leave commences
Question 26 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 27 So if I go abroad and have booked holiday and no entitlement left can I go with unpaid leave
Answer Probably yes, you will still have the holiday accruing in the second half of the year but if that is not enough the setting can allow colleagues to take more leave as unpaid if it can be covered, which given the expected drop in children numbers should be fine, but I think we all need to consider the possibility that all travel aboard may not be allowed by the end of the year due to the worldwide pandemic.
Question 28 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.
Question 29 Pregnant staff- would like to use all holiday before going on mat leave would this be possible?
Answer Yes you can, presumably she is already being Furloughed due to vulnerability/Pregnancy so taking holiday now already.
Question 30 I am on a TUPE contract, does this apply to me?
Answer Yes, the details in the letters do apply to you
Question 31 Are you saying that staff need to use up holiday they have accrued since January, so half almost of their holiday for the year?
Answer Yes those colleagues who are either continuously placed on Furlough or go on or off of Furlough from the 25th May to the 31st July will automatically be applied Furlough holiday in order to ensure they have taken up to 7 months’ worth of annual leave before returning back to work.  Those colleagues who would like to apply Furlough holiday before the 25th May will need to ask their managers to apply Furlough holiday to their scheduling on EYM.
Question 32 I’m not sure I’m understanding how this will work and how we will have enough staff at the nursery. Will current staff on furlough be on holiday then?
Answer Yes, for some days/weeks those on Furlough will be on holiday yes, you don’t need them at the nursery as they are on Furlough so holiday can be applied
Question 33 Will this be compulsory or an option?
Answer Compulsory
Question 34 I also thought staff could carry holiday over to next year
Answer That’s guidance, which employers do not have to offer unless the business needs this option – which we are hoping to not do.
Question 35 If colleagues have already booked their holiday for the end of the year and approved will this be removed and used during the furlough period?
Answer Those colleagues who have booked annual leave from the 01/08/2020 -31/12/2020 that totals more than 5 months of their year’s allowance will be discussed on an individual basis with your line manager to allow considerations to me made.
Question 36 Will Holiday whilst on Furlough be paid at my rate of pay as of the 30th March 2020?
Answer Yes, Holiday whilst on Furlough will be paid at your rate of pay a of the 30th March 2020
Returning back to work
Question 37 I have been informed that I may be required back to work on the 1st June.  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, it’s not just me, my daughter would also be returning to the nursery.
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.
Question: 38 I live with someone who is shielding due to being vulnerable.  My home is a very small house, so I am unable to have the option to maintain social distancing and use other parts of the house to ensure my parent remains safe and shields.

 

Answer: There is no reason as to why you can’t return to work as of the 1st June, as per governments guidance on Living with other people whilst shielding https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19, it also states that those who are shielding should do so until the 30th June, that government is reviewing this regularly.  It could be that if don’t need you to return to work as of the 1st June, that you can remain on Furlough across June but if we do need you to work and you are unable to make arrangements then we could ask you to be unpaid and we will try to recruit a temporary replacement. We are awaiting the guidance from the government on how Furlough will work and be applied past the 1st July. However if you are in the same situation as you are now in July, it is likely that we will not continue to pay you Furlough and if there is work for you to undertake that you refuse, the time off from work will be classed as unpaid leave and in due course we may need to recruit to replace you (see above answer).
Question: 39 Can a colleague be brought back from Furlough Holiday?
Answer: Of course a colleague can be recall back from furlough (as long as they have already completed 3 weeks of furlough) or furlough holiday, but in the instance of them being called back from furlough holiday, please consider have they had their 6-7 months holiday applied. As it could be that you will have to apply furlough holiday to a previous period of time when they were just furloughed to guarantee they have taken their 6-7 months holiday balance by the 31/07/2020.

 

Posted in: General