Bacta’s battle plan to support members through Covid-19

Bacta, the UK trade body for arcades and amusement centres, has issued a call to arms to its members in light of the rapidly worsening COVID-19 crisis, drawing up a range of measures to help advise members and outlining the support the industry requires from Government right now. 

In his latest statement, the Prime Minister has now advised the population not to undertake unnecessary travel and not to congregate in pubs, bars, theatres and similar social spaces. Combined with today’s information that this situation will likely last many months, our industry, in particular, is facing devastation.

Bacta has been in close liaison with members on the impact of the measures taken by the Government and the likely behaviour of our customers as a result and has been communicating these to stakeholders; MPs, Lords, the CBI the Tourism Alliance, the Scottish Tourism Alliance and others. Bacta CEO John White and President James Miller will be attending video meeting with DCMS at lunchtime today to put forward the position of members and what needs to be done to alleviate some of the pressure.

Bacta CEO John White says: “Our focus has to be to join with other business sectors to press the Government to go much, much further than they did in last week’s budget to address what will be a cash flow brick wall in only a matter of days. If we are not seeing the revenue from our customers, we have to see the abolition of certain state costs and the deferment of others.  We are therefore calling for the abolition of the rates for 12 months, a cut in VAT, deferment of all state tax payments such as VAT, MGD and PAYE/NIC. In addition, all financial institutions should be under an obligation to defer repayments of any kind on loans, mortgages, charges etc, underwritten by Government. We shall see if the Chancellor has listened later today.”

“The cost of these measures will be enormous, but necessary to ensure we have a functioning economy for when we get through this crisis. It is a cost not dissimilar to that of the 2008 financial crisis or that of a war. This help has to be provided,” he adds.

Bacta is also calling upon members to contact their MPs as a matter of urgency to make it absolutely clear that without support, their business and those in the sector will not survive.

For many businesses, the biggest concern will be the health and livelihoods of staff members during the crisis.

While allowing staff to work from home will not be an option for many, this should be introduced if possible. Other measures such as avoiding public transport, staggering travel times and work hours and of course providing hand sanitisers to staff and urging them to wash their hands regularly should also be considered.

Unfortunately, wages will be one of the costs that businesses will have to review. Bacta has taken advice on what measures can and cannot be taken to reduce wage costs in a way which is legal, fair and reasonable.

“In the financial crisis, for example, conversations with staff enabled many businesses to share the pain of that crisis with staff taking wage cuts in order to keep their jobs.  It is likely many businesses will need to have similar conversations over the coming weeks,” adds White.

A very brief summary is set out below:

  •         You can send people home with no pay or reduced hours ONLY if the employment contract allows for this.
  •         Otherwise, you have to reach an agreement to send people home on no pay. The employee has to agree.
  •         If you want to reduce hours you can do this via consultation and giving notice. The same amount of notice as if you were terminating employment. 
  •         You cannot send someone home sick if they are not. It is for the employee to decide if they are sick.  If the employer sends them home this is effectively a suspension and should be paid.
  •         Staff can be asked/required to take holiday if it is paid leave.  You cannot force them to take unpaid holiday.
  •         You can dismiss staff with less than 2 years’ service without risk of an unfair dismissal claim as long as you give paid notice

“This is a deeply troubling time for us all. Bacta will continue to fight for this industry’s interests and to pass on relevant and important information to its members throughout. Please get in touch if you have any particular issues that you need clarifying and we hope you all stay safe and well,” concludes John White.

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