Greenkeeping during COVID-19 - FAQs

12 January 2021 COVID-19
The Royal Worlington & Newmarket team practising social distancing

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are greenkeepers ‘key workers’?

No, key workers are those that are employed within the following professions and industries:

Health and social care; education and childcare; food/necessary goods; key public services; local and national government; utility workers; public safety and national security; transport.

 

I am allowed to train even if I am furloughed, so how can I continue my professional development?

BIGGA has a wide range of online resources available to our members and there's never been a better time to register for Continuing Professional Development and start utilising these resources.

Continue to Learn is taking place as an entirely-online education event this month. The education programme put together by BIGGA's L&D team is the largest-ever online education event for the UK turf and golf industry and more information is available here.

Find out more about CPD and register here.

You can download a digital version of our monthly magazine, Greenkeeper International. There's also a dyslexia-friendly version of the magazine available online.

Listen to our back catalogue of podcasts. We've got more than a year's worth of episodes of The Green Room Golf Course Podcast for you to listen to. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts to listen whenever a new episode is released. 

Did you know that many of the education events, workshops and seminars that take place at Continue to Learn at BTME each January are recorded? BIGGA members can revisit these and watch events in full on our website

You can find something to read using the Turfgrass Information File. BIGGA members can access a specialised unit at the Michigan State University Libraries (MSU) that contains the most comprehensive publicly available collection of turfgrass educational materials in the world.

Refresh your practical knowledge by checking out our Field Guides. The guides were developed to assist members to be able to identify flora and fauna on the golf course and provide a reference guide.

Check out our How To... guides. These short, handy guides provide practical, step by step guidance on a range of subjects. The guides can be downloaded and used to help you develop your knowledge and implement new processes within your workplace.

The Agrovista Amenity Academy is an online learning resource with courses and lessons being created on a range of areas of turf management and for all products sold by Agrovista Amenity. 

BIGGA members can access a wide ranging suite of education thanks to the association’s partnership with Xact Group.

What do I need to do if I’m off work unwell?

As of 25 March 2020, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay home, you can get an isolation note by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than contacting your doctor’s surgery. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) after seven days of sickness absence.

Visit www.gov.uk for more information.

I live on a golf course with my family. Are there access restrictions for my children?

Any family who lives on a golf course must comply to the same government guidelines as other members of the public who may be using areas of the course for exercise and fresh air. Social distancing should be observed and family should not be accompanying greens staff at all where there is equipment stored or near to any of the greenkeepers’ indoor work areas. 

What is BIGGA doing?

BIGGA has worked alongside the other leading industry bodies in golf to provide a wide range of help and guidance throughout this difficult period. On our website you can find guidance and downloadable resources including:

  • Information about support that BIGGA members are eligible for
  • Access to BIGGA services during the coronavirus crisis
  • Guidance for golf facilities
  • Information relating to financial support
  • Information advising on plans for golf re-opening

Staff members are also on hand to provide support and advice. You can find the relevant contact details at the bottom of this page

Are volunteers allowed to help out on the course to carry out ‘essential maintenance’?

No, volunteering is not permissible at this time. The health and safety of those who are carrying out essential maintenance is our main concern and any volunteering on the course could compromise the measures that are in place.

I’m part of the team still at work for essential maintenance. Am I still covered by the club’s insurance?

Please refer to your individual club’s insurance policy as these will vary greatly in terms of what work is covered under the essential maintenance guidelines.

Do I need a pass for travelling to and from work, in case I’m stopped?

It is probably a good idea to carry a pass signed by your club to show that you are permitted to continue working.

We’ve prepared a template that you can download and fill out, which will explain your reasons for travelling.

PERMISSION TO WORK - GOLF CLUB.docx

 

I’m worried about supporting my family now that I’m only working part time hours? What should I do if I experience financial difficulties?

The Government has outlined significant support for businesses and workers to help reduce the financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis. You can find more information about that here: Government Financial Support

BIGGA is also able to provide a small amount of financial support through the Greenkeepers Benevolent Fund, while the charity Perennial is on hand to provide further assistance.

We will need to order supplies for the golf course. Is this permitted and will deliveries be allowed?

Some suppliers continue to be operational during this period and are looking to make deliveries for as long as this is allowed.

For example, Rigby Taylor has stated that although staff are now working from home, they are able to offer advice and support. They’re also despatching products “for as long as it is reasonably practicable” and where safe systems are in place for collections and deliveries.

In terms of machinery maintenance, John Deere’s parts business is currently not affected and European depots are continuing to deliver to order.

A spokesperson for John Deere told us: “All aspects of the UK & Ireland parts business are also working normally, including online parts ordering, as well as overnight delivery by air from the European Parts Destribution Centre in Germany.”

To find out if your suppliers are able to provide a service during this period, contact them directly. For relevant contact details, check out the BIGGA Directory

Can I go to work at all if I am furloughed?

No, you can not undertake any work for your employer while you are furloughed.

The Government guidance states:

If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off.

To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 30 April 2021.

If I am furloughed will I get paid the extra 20% above the government funding from my employer?

Any extra payment above the 80% government funding figure is at the discretion of the employer.

If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

For more details please go to:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-employees

Is it safe to work alone?

All employers should ensure risk assessments have been carried out that cover any changes to normal working practices.

If you’re working alone during this period, it is important that your club has a lone working policy in place. Although there is no legal requirement, a practical guide to working alone can promote a culture of safety among employees, keeping them safe and reducing the risk of legal issues.

Richard Johnstone and the team at Nairn Dunbar Golf Club have put together a lone working policy and they’ve allowed us to share it among BIGGA members. Feel free to use it as a template for your own policy.

Download it here:

Lone Working Policy

 

Does there need to be a first aider on site?

It is not appropriate for there to be no-one on site with first aid training as the usual potential risks to health that are inherent with greenkeeping are still present in the current circumstances. Fortunately, many greenkeepers have received some form of first aid training.

The safety of workers can also be supported by appropriate risk assessments being carried out and robust lone worker policies being put in place.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced some new guidance in light of the current situation:

What has been done to make my role, or my workplace safe for my return?

This is a great question and you are within your rights to ask your line manager and ensure that a COVID19 risk assessment has been carried out to help protect your safety in returning to the workplace. Advice on making workplaces safe for staff is available in our COVID-19 hub.

How much notice should my employer give me to return from furlough or from working at home?

Currently there is no set notice period, employers should communicate regularly with their team and keep them up to speed with any developments or changes to the workplace etc. Employers should also be mindful of employees with caring responsibilities and where possible try to accommodate these.

While being a parent is not a protected category employers should try and be as fair and reasonable as possible, can shift patterns be looked at, can a combination of home and workplace hours be carried out etc, is there a way of meeting in the middle. Likewise, employees have a responsibility to return to work when required and must remember that the furlough scheme is not indefinite.

What if I don’t want to return to the workplace or come off furlough?

You need to have a conversation with your line manager and iron out any potential areas of concern that you may have, if there are valid reasons for your concern these should be addressed appropriately. Likewise, it is worth remembering that the scheme is short term and businesses must use it appropriately.

 

If you have a question you'd like to ask or require support from your local BIGGA representative, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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