News from the turf world
TGA Update on Covid-19
Dear TGA members,
The TGA Council has been meeting remotely over the last couple of days, to discuss the ever changing policy and advice surrounding Covid-19 and its impact on the UK turf industry. On Tuesday morning the attached letter was sent to the NFU to inform their lobbying team of the current and potential issues faced by the turfgrass industry.
In recent Government clarification, it details that you are still allowed to go to work if you cannot do your job from home, this would encompass those working in the “hands on” side turf production.
We understand that in Scotland, the message is to close all building sites. However, for the the rest of the UK open air building sites are still allowed to remain open at this time
Given the level of enforcement of this legislation across the many areas of the UK, it may be prudent to provide your workers with a letter detailing their need to be on the road. Please see the attached letter template which can you amend to suit your business.
The definition of a key worker is in England is available via gov.uk, this is currently the only published list. It doesn’t go into specific job roles and at this time the TGA deem that this may not cover turf production/ maintenance, as agriculture isn’t stated. It is worth pointing out that Scotland is operating a different system, the 32 local authorities have been given the power to designate what they deem should count as a key worker. Please note that this only relates to key worker status and those who can still send their children to school, not businesses that can remain open.
We have been informed by BIGGA that have been advised by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) “For security and essential maintenance reasons greens staff can still attend work”.
The TGA would like to reinforce both the Government’s and Public Health England’s advice, that all individuals sent out to carry out Turf maintenance and harvesting works should ensure an appropriate level of social distancing, a minimum of 2m apart at all times, and, stagger break times to avoid unnecessary interaction, cleaning down multi-use machinery prior to use and must wash their hands regularly with soap and hot water. TGA members are advised not to share vehicles, and, when working on site, to ensure the activity in question does not break these guidelines. Further guidance can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/guidance-for-employers-and-businesses-on-coronavirus-covid-19
Posters for your work place are available via the following links:
If in the event that a employee falls ill and develops a high temperature or new continuous cough, they are to return home immediately and self-isolate for 7 days with no social contact other than with those in the same household. The household will then have to self-isolate for 14 days. If another member of staff has worked closely with someone who was taken unwell, with the symptoms listed above, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell with symptoms consistent with coronavirus infection.
To decrease risk of spread the TGA recommend that you limit/ cease your business’s contact with the general public.
At the moment the Government has not shut down UK businesses. However, it is speculated the business measure would continue to increase in severity.
If you are creating your business contingency plan, please bear in mind that there is Government aid to assist financially with your business. As a business you will be able to furlough your workers, they will kept on your payroll, rather than being laid off. To qualify for this scheme, they will not be able to undertake work for you while they are furloughed, but you be able claim a grant of up to 80% of their wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. As this scheme has only recently been announced the guidance is as yet unclear, current information and updates can be found here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees#furloughed-workers
In the meantime it would be great to get your feedback:
- If you could comment on how your business is currently being affected?
- What percentage sales decrease do you forecast?
- Are you planning to make staff changes over the next couple of months?
The TGA are reviewing the situation and guidance on a daily basis and are continuing to communicate with the NFU, British Growers and Government on behalf of Turfgrass members. A cross industry alliance has been set up with BIGGA,BALI and the Amenity Forum to focus on the needs on the amenity sector. Your feedback will be much appreciated.
Coral Russell, Turfgrass Growers Association Ltd, 26th March 2020