Following the announcement of a new lockdown for England, the UK Government has announced an extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which will enable employers to place their staff on furlough and receive 80% of their salary up to £2,500 per month.
© Ash Youd
After a busy summer, golf courses may choose to once again utilise this scheme or may retain their staff to complete remedial work at their venue. The decision to furlough staff will depend upon the individual circumstances relating to each golf club.
Payments received from the Government's Job Retention Scheme could go some way to supporting the financial side of the club, preserving jobs in the long run.
However, after a busy summer that has seen an increase in the number of golfers playing on fairways, golf course managers could make a case for clubs delaying the adoption of the furlough scheme to allow the greenkeeping team to complete much-needed remedial work. Autumn and winter maintenance go a long way to presenting an outstanding course come spring and summer.
The initial essential maintenance guidelines were produced early in the coronavirus crisis when infection and mortality rates were uncertain. They were incredibly strict to protect the health of the greenkeeping team in the worst-case scenario and the limited number of greenkeepers to have contracted the virus is testament to the success of the guidelines.
As the summer progressed and our awareness of safe working practices evolved, so too did the guidelines to the point where golf courses can be presented safely and effectively in a manner that keeps the entire staff safe.
BIGGA's advice to their members is to continue working as you have all summer: in a sensible manner and keeping to the practices that have kept your team safe. Where possible teams should continue to be segregated into isolated groups to prevent infections spreading across the entire team. If that is not possible, team up with another nearby course so that you can support each other in case of an outbreak. These and other safe working practices are available on our website.
Even more than before, the focus must be on safety and not putting anyone at risk. Course managers should have an awareness of what work is essential at their golf club and advise senior management as to the requirements of the golf course, adjusting and maintaining staffing levels to suit the requirements of the golf facility and to ensure the continuing safety of the entire team.
BIGGA will provide updated information as this situation develops.