BALI Position Statement – COVID-19 (coronavirus)

Wayne Grills, BALI Chief Executive
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on the evening of Monday 23
March that saw the country effectively enter ‘lockdown’, the team at the British
Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) has
been working tirelessly to obtain
clarification from the Government as to what this means in practice for our
site-based members in particular, many of whom are looking for reassurances
with regards to their careers and income.
It is an unprecedented time for us all and firstly I want to reaffirm the message
that our members’ health, that of their families and also those they come into
contact with, comes first. Our request on Tuesday 24 March was for members
to cease operations temporarily, stay home, stay safe and save lives. This was
for a period of 48 hours. We would like to thank those members who took that
request onboard, but at the same time recognise those who have had no
choice but to continue working. During that time, we have continually
requested clarification from MPs in both Westminster and in Scotland; 48
hours on, we are disappointed to have to report that we have received no
reply. Therefore, our request was and remains that members close their
businesses wherever possible to avoid the spread of COVID-19. This will go
some way to help front line public services cope with the pandemic, including
the NHS and police force, and protect our most vulnerable. This is absolutely
critical, and the message could not be clearer; stay home, save lives. Ahead of
this statement, the team and I have been working incredibly hard on
developing several resources for BALI members to make use of if you do
choose to close. These are listed at the end of this statement, including legal
advice on furlough workers, with links to the relevant documents.
Government guidelines clearly state, however, that if you cannot work from
home, you can go to work. If you are a business you may decide, or have
already decided, to continue operating. If this is the case, BALI strongly advises
you follow and adhere to the most recent Public Health England (PHE) advice
regarding preventative and protective measures. If you have chosen to
continue working, and can meet the necessary required PHE standards, the
team at BALI have produced a document that is available for members now,
‘Landscaping protective measures’,
as well as a free RAMS template. This
can be accessed via a link at the end of this statement.
I want to be absolutely clear here, BALI is not a regulatory or governing body
and we cannot therefore dictate that you close your business down, but we are
asking you to take a serious look at what part you are playing in either helping
to contain this pandemic or whether you are taking unnecessary risks with your
workforce and their families’ livelihoods, and possibly lives. Employers have a
statutory duty of care for people’s health and safety, to provide a safe place to
work, and this responsibility needs to be taken very seriously. There is also a
moral responsibility to ensure employees feel safe and secure.
Many of our members have chosen to cease activity but are obviously
extremely worried about what the implications of that decision will be for
them, their businesses, staff and their families. We understand, and so do our
membership benefit providers who are on-hand and ready to offer you support
right now. On our website, we have a dedicated COVID-19 page
essential information to help members throughout this crisis. This added
service is on top of the provisions BALI members already have access to as part
of their membership. I would encourage you to head straight to the website
and familiarise yourself with everything that’s on there. There’s information
about our HR helpline, legal assistance and a number of practical COVID-19
guidance documents and templates, as well as useful links to other supportive
Perennial is one such organisation that is offering a much-needed lifeline
during this difficult time. The charity
is ready to help with any difficulties you
may be facing, whether they be financial or otherwise. Make sure you contact
them if you’re struggling. We’ve also just launched several new webinars
covering digital marketing, to support businesses online whilst going to site
may be difficult, or impossible. These webinars are exclusive to BALI members
and are free of charge. We will also shortly be announcing several member
clinics, also based online, that cover legal, HR, compliance and insurance.
Details will be sent to all members very soon.
In the meantime, I will continue to press my contacts in Government for a
much-needed response to our questions in the hope that we receive some
clarity. If we do receive an update, the team will
disseminate the information to
all members immediately.
Please stay safe, protect yourself and others and together we will play our part
in fighting this pandemic by supporting those services that need us now, more
than ever.

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