Over the weekend I am sure that you will all have seen the latest COVID 19 figures regarding infections and tragically, deaths. I hope that this brings home to all of you just how serious this crisis is. The government is predicting that these figures will continue to rise for around 3-4 weeks. This is why all of you must follow the guidelines about hand washing, social distancing, and self isolation. The more people that follow the rules, the less infections we will have and the sooner we will be able to plan for the next phase.
My information this morning is that we can only expect about 20% of our normal Group-wide income from the beginning of April onwards. This may still change but it is unlikely that we will get any good news about restarting projects in the next 2 months.
That means that many of our employees are no longer able to work on an active project. An active project means that we carry out work for which we are paid. In Centura Group by far our biggest monthly cost is our payroll. As our income drops it will become increasingly difficult to sustain our payroll costs..
In a situation where the employer cannot pay their staff there are various options. If it is a short term issue then arrangements can be made to place staff on Temporary Lay Off or Short Time Working. Sometimes unpaid leave may also be considered. All of these options are contained in your employment contracts.
The government recognises this huge issue not only at Centura Group, but at thousands of similar companies across the UK. So 2 weeks ago government announced help for businesses that employ their staff on PAYE. That means all of you. The scheme is called the “Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme”. Under that scheme, staff can now be transferred to a temporary leave status called “Furlough”. The option to transfer staff to furlough is now open to employers whose employees are temporarily unable to take part in active work for the company. Staff on furlough remain employees of the company with their length of service intact. Furloughed staff are not redundant. In Centura, furlough is our lifeline.
This means your contract of employment continues, but you shall not be required to work. We will pay you 80% of your usual gross pay including all allowances subject to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
From today, individual letters will be sent by email to staff who we have to place on furlough leave. I am very sorry that we have to take this action but I hope you can understand why. The transfer to furlough is not based on length of service, employment record, skills set or region. It is simply dictated by the massive reduction in work that we are experiencing. It will introduce hardship for everyone. I strongly advise that where applicable you consider applying for Mortgage holidays, rent relief and other benefits that are available.
A fundamental rule regarding furlough is that you are not allowed to carry out work that generates income for any part of Centura. That is a logical and fair rule. You may carry out on-line training, you may wish to volunteer for local community groups, charities or the NHS. You must keep in touch with the Group company for whom you work. You must do this by regularly checking your email or by visiting the Centura Intranet front page where all announcements are being posted. You will need to receive instruction and update from Centura. You must pass on important announcements and instructions that you may receive by email that must be brought to the attention of your line managers. If the work situation continues to decline then further staff may be transferred to furlough. Staff may be transferred back to normal employment as work picks up. The minimum time on furlough must be 3 weeks. These government arrangements are currently in place for 3 months from 1st March.
This announcement contains only brief details regarding furlough. At present we are still trying to fully understand the rules and the payment calculation. You will have many other questions to ask. Centura has set up an email address firstname.lastname@example.org . I will monitor all those emails and will try to answer all your questions accurately.
I know that this situation is worrying and upsetting for everyone. Please be assured that the Directors and staff of our companies are doing everything in their power to plan through this so that we are in the best position possible to restart as soon as we are able.
We are the best team in the industry and we need more than a virus to bring us down.
Group Chief Executive
TRANSFER TO FURLOUGH