[STAFF ANNOUNCEMENT: 12TH MAY 2020]

Dear Colleague,

Following the briefing by the Prime Minister on Sunday and the subsequent guidelines issued by the Government on Monday 11th May regarding easing of lockdown in stages, we are planning towards the first steps in reopening the business. It is now clear that our showrooms that facilitate the vehicle sales side of the business will not be allowed to open until the 1st June at the earliest.

It is essential that we ensure colleagues and customers alike are kept safe. This involves getting to grips with what social distancing will mean in practice across all the activities of the group. To help with this we are contacting some of you to return from furlough. At this stage, it is a small percentage, being individuals best placed to help with planning and implementation.

Over the coming weeks your line manager is likely to contact more of you to return from furlough. Our decisions on who to return and when will be driven by safety considerations and the short-term needs of the business.

I am sure you will understand that this is a critical phase. We do not know the speed at which business will return to some form of normality. Bringing too many people back too quickly from furlough could cause huge financial damage to the business and endanger colleagues and customers.

Equally, we understand that most colleagues will be keen to return to normal working as quickly as possible so we will keep you informed as things progress.

In deciding the speed at which to return colleagues from furlough, as well as safety considerations, we will need to watch carefully how the economy performs, the amount of business coming in and the impact of social distancing on our ability to function effectively.

When working out the order in which to return colleagues we will looking at short-term business needs. This will involve taking account of the likes of:

  • Colleague and customer safety
  • Relevant experience (including across systems, equipment, brands etc)
  • Multi-skilling
  • Short-term cost and benefit to the business

We will also be watching carefully to see what the Government does to support businesses like ourselves and our colleagues. We will take this into account when planning the process of return, hopefully, to normal working over a period of time.

We have commissioned a company to install a comprehensive signage package in all our premises to remind customers and staff of the importance of social distancing when on site. We have also purchased hand sanitiser dispensing units, installed Perspex “sneeze screens” and purchased appropriate PPE. We are in the process of completing risk assessments and developing new processes to avoid the transmission of the virus.

Our online health & safety training provider is producing a Coronavirus awareness course which will cover all aspects of safe working practices relating to the virus. You will be asked to complete the course at home before being allowed to return to work.

In summary the return to work will be gradual and you SHOULD NOT RETURN TO WORK UNTIL ADVISED TO DO SO BY YOUR LINE MANAGER, we will attempt to give as much notice as possible and your manager will discuss with you any concerns you may have in returning to work. We will endeavour to be as flexible as possible.

Paul Barrett

Managing Director

12th May 2020.



[STAFF ANNOUNCEMENT: 27TH APRIL 2020]

Dear Colleague,

I do hope that you and your loved ones are keeping fit & well during these most unusual and challenging times and have been enjoying the most amazing Spring weather that has been with us since the beginning of “lockdown”.

The Company is operating at a very low level with a small number of colleagues providing service & parts back up to key workers and I would like to thank them for doing this. All other Barretts staff have been furloughed and I am delighted to be able to confirm that we were able to reengage staff members who had left the organisation but whose new employer was unable to take them on to ensure that they too are able to benefit from the Governments Job Retention Scheme.

You will have recently received your electronic payslip. I thought I should explain how the amount you have been paid has been calculated if you are on furlough pay.

Your April furlough pay has been calculated using your March basic pay plus your average variable earnings for the prior 12 months (including bonus, overtime and commission). This is multiplied by 80% and is capped at the £2,500 scheme limit to arrive at your April furlough amount.

Tax, national insurance and pension will be calculated on this amount and deducted in the normal way. Tax codes for company cars will still apply.

Bonus, overtime and commission from March, which would normally have been paid in April, has been carried forward until such time as the furlough pay arrangements come to an end.

I would like to thank Denise & Vicky in the Head Office wages office for the vast amount of work they put in last week ensuring that everyone got paid.

We all are looking forward to the day when life returns to some kind of normality but that is likely to be some months away. In the meantime, the senior Management Team are developing plans and processes in discussions with our franchise partners so that we can be ready for a phased return to working as the lockdown is eased.

Please stay safe and continue to follow the Governments advice on social distancing.

Yours sincerely

Paul Barrett

Managing Director

27th April 2020.



[STAFF ANNOUNCEMENT: 26TH MARCH 2020 ]

Dear Colleague,

Coronavirus: Immediate Steps – Barretts Group

Temporary suspension of most group operations:

As you all know, following the Government closure of all showrooms from 23 March, the general suspension of MOTs and all but essential travel banned, we have had no option but to suspend most services of the group with effect from 23 March.

Limited continuing services:

We are continuing to provide support to Kent Police and other key workers on essential maintenance of their vehicles. In addition we are providing a limited parts delivery service to existing trade customers.

We have consulted with those who work in areas where there will be limited continuing services so as to agree temporary resource requirements and working arrangements.We will regularly review the feasibility of offering these services and keep all those involved informed.

As you are not currently working in one of the limited continuing services, you should stay at home and follow all government guidance and emergency rules as you and we fight to prevent the spread of this virus.

Pay arrangements for March:

Despite the significant financial pressure on the company from the crisis, we will be paying all staff normal full pay for the whole of March.

Coronavirus job retention scheme:

As you will know, the government announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ("the Government Scheme") a few days ago as an alternative to staff being laid off or their employment ended.

A "furloughed employee" is someone instructed not to come to work and not to undertake any work.Without the Government Scheme, that employee would in practice either receive no pay or their employment would likely be ended. Instead, the Government Scheme provides a way to continue to pay those of our employees who are "furloughed" a proportion of their pay for (currently) up to three months.

In order to save jobs, we propose to furlough all of our workforce under the Government Scheme other than those who will be required to operate the limited continuing services.

We therefore propose to furlough you with effect from 23 March 2020. We cannot yet say how long the period of furlough will last and it may vary in length for different groups of employees. We will however be reviewing it regularly in line with government emergency powers and will do all we can to engage with you and keep you informed.

Whilst on furlough you will remain employed and subject to the normal terms of your employment but will not be required to carry out any employment duties. If we need you to work we will recall you from furlough first. We may need to recall any person from furlough for operational reasons but will always contact you first to inform you of the change of arrangements.

For the furlough period from 1 April 2020, you will receive 80% of your normal pay less any income tax, employee national insurance contributions or other amounts we are required to deduct (subject to an overall cap per employee of £2,500 per month). Normal pay will be subject to government definition.

Alternatives:

We, like so many other organisations, are seriously affected by the necessary government control measures and resultant dramatic slowdown in the economy. It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of the group would be at risk without taking these immediate steps. We do not see any viable alternative.

We want to do everything we can to save jobs and save the group for the long-term benefit of the workforce. We are working hard to achieve that and these steps have not been taken without great heartache, I can assure you. They will also apply at all levels of the group.

We believe that, with the help of the Government Scheme and with the support of our loyal workforce, we can achieve a sustainable future for the group through these essential emergency steps and in the meantime play our role together in arresting the spread of the virus.

Next steps:

Sadly there has been no practical way in the current crisis to carry out the extent of individual or collective consultation that we would have wanted before embarking upon this course of action.

You are not obliged to consent to the proposal to place you on furlough. If however you do not consent, we:

  • may not be able to get access to funds from government to pay you
  • will then have to explore other options for laying you off without pay or terminating your employment.

For practical reasons in these exceptional circumstances, we will treat you as consenting to the proposal unless you email furloughed@barrettsgroup.co.uk by 31 March 2020 confirming your rejection of the proposal.

We do not expect many, if any, rejections. If however you choose to email to reject the proposal then you should set out your full reasons for doing so.

We will do everything we can to keep the company email system working but in addition, we have already asked you immediately to provide your line manager with an email address and mobile on which we can contact you. If you do not have a personal email address, please provide a mobile number and postal address but an email address will be far easier for all concerned.

We understand that this is a hugely unsettling time for everybody. I can assure you however that we are doing everything within our power to protect our employees and customers in the short term and the group and all jobs moving forward. We will be working to provide updated information and documentation as a matter of urgency.

Yours sincerely

Paul Barrett

Managing Director

26th March 2020.