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The Equestrian Employers Association (EEA) is the organisation for you if you employ staff in the equestrian industry.

#COVID - 19: GUIDANCE FOR EMPLOYERS

 

With the rapidly changing nature of the COVID-19 outbreak, information and advice from Government can change quickly. For all the latest Government information on COVID-19 and the measures the Government, and Devolved Governments, are taking, please visit the UK Government website, the Scottish Government website, the Welsh Government website or the Northern Irish Government website.

The information below is kept under continuous review and is updated often, please be sure to check the COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses from the Government for the latest updates.

The Government have just launched a new website that helps businesses find out how to access the support that has been made available, who is eligible, when the schemes open and how to apply 


Travel to work 

The guidance stipulates that people can leave home to travel to and from work “only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.” On this basis, and provided that travel is strictly limited to the express purposes outlined by Government, travel directly to work to care for horses may continue.

Staff who are essential to the care of horses in respect of the above, and who absolutely cannot work from home, should continue to travel to work during the period of these restrictions.

The EEA has created a template letter for employers to prove that your employees are essential workers, if challenged by the police. It is advised that this is kept in the employees car, along with a form of ID. 


Essential travel to work template

Adapt this template letter for your staff to produce if challenged by the authorities, to prove that it is absolutely essential for them to travel to work.

 


SELF EMPLOYED 


The Government have announced a package for the self-employed on 26/03/2020.

This support is available for those who are registered as self employed with HMRC and have submitted 2019 accounts.

 

The employment status of grooms is critical in determining what government support is available at this challenging time.

If one has been told by an employer that they are ‘self-employed’, yet have not registered themselves as such with HMRC, sadly that individual will not be eligible for this self employed package NOR government support for the employed that are not required or unable to work i.e furlough.

We recommend applying for Universal Credit in this circumstance.

The details 

  • The government will pay self-employed people, who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus, a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last 3 years, up to £2,500 per month. Open for at least 3 months across the UK, and it will extend if necessary
  • You’ll be able to claim these grants and continue to do business. It's covering the same amount of income as we are for furloughed employees, who also get a grant worth 80%.
  • It’s only open to those with trading profits up to £50,000, who make a majority of their income from self-employment. To minimise fraud only those already in self-employment, who have a tax return for 2019 can apply.
  • HMRC are working urgently, we expect people to access it no later than the beginning of June. If eligible, HMRC will contact you with an online form, they pay the grant straight to your bank account.
  • To make sure no one who needs it misses out on support, anyone who missed the filing deadline in January, four weeks from today to submit their tax return.
  • You can access the business interruption loans.
  • Income tax payments due in July can be deferred to the end of Jan 2021.

How do I access it

  • HMRC are working urgently, we expect people to access it no later than the beginning of June. If eligible, HMRC will contact you with an online form, they pay the grant straight to your bank account.
  • To make sure no one who needs it misses out on support, anyone who missed the filing deadline in January, four weeks from today to submit their tax return.

I am employed and self employed

I am registered both employed and self-employed, which Government support applies to me?

This scheme is only open to those who make a majority of their income from self-employment.

How soon will i have access to the money

At present the date hasn’t been confirmed, but it is thought to be estimated that the support will start paying out in June.

Do i have to be registered with the HMRC

Yes you do.

If you are not registered as self employed with HMRC then you do not qualify for this support. We recommend that you look at applying for Universal Credit.

What happens if I only recently registered with hmrc

To apply for this support you need to have been registered as self-employed and have a tax return for 2019. 

If you fall outside of this time frame then you will need to apply for Universal Credit.

I am not sure if i am in fact registered with hmrc

To be self-employed you will be registered with HMRC, submit your own tax return and pay your own National Insurance/Income Tax.

If you are not registered as self employed, then unfortunately this Government support is not available to you and you will need to register for Universal Credit.

I have told My groom that they are self employed

You can’t tell someone they are self employed. This is illegal and false employment.

To self-employed they will be registered with HMRC, submit their own tax return, set their own hours, work for more than one person and issue you with an invoice for any work carried out.

If you have told them that they are self employed and they have not registered with HMRC unfortunately they will only qualify for Universal Credit and not be eligible for the self employed package or employed support (furloughing) from the government.

what is universal credit and does it apply to me

Universal Credit is government support for those who don’t qualify for the self employed, or employee packages.

You could get Universal Credit on the basis of remaining at home on government advice:

  • If you don’t qualify for Statutory Sick Pay or Employment and Support Allowance or
  • you need additional help on top of SSP or New-style ESA.

As there is at least a five-week wait before you get Universal Credit, you can get help from day one through a Universal Credit Advance Payment.  Advance payments have to be paid back out of your Universal Credit payments .and must be paid back within 12 months.

People who need to claim Universal Credit because of coronavirus will not have to produce a fit note. Universal Credit is claimed online.

Self-employed claimants on Universal Credit who are required to stay at home or are ill as a result of coronavirus will not have a Minimum Income Floor  (an assumed level of income) applied for a period of time while affected.

 



Cash Flow Issues

At this time cash flow is crucial to keeping your business alive. The Government has put in place a variety of schemes to support you. 

If you are a livery yard or riding school, then consider, in this order:
1. Using the interest free loan scheme to keep your cash flow fluid
2. Furlonging or Short Time working some employees
3. Claiming the cash grant - you will hear from your council regarding this
4. Within the next 12 months, if possible, paying back the loan

  The BEF have had confirmation from the Sport and Recreation Alliance that riding schools, livery yards and competition centres fall under the umbrella of those businesses considered to be ‘for assembly and leisure’ – provided they are normally open to the public – and as such are eligible for the help currently on offer from the Government.

 

The Coronavirus business interruption loan scheme

A new temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, delivered by the British Business Bank, launched 23 March 2020 to support primarily small and medium-sized businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value. There will be an interest free period for loans taken out through the business interruption loan scheme of 12 months. 

Business are eligible if the business is UK based, with turnover of no more than £45 million per year and British Business Bank eligibility criteria. 

The full rules of the Scheme and the list of accredited lenders is available on the British Business Bank website. All the major banks will offer the Scheme once it has launched. There are currently 40 accredited providers in all with more being added. Businesses wishing to apply for this scheme should approach the lenders directly. 

The Development Bank of Wales is currently offering all business customers a 3 month capital loan repayment holiday. More information can be found here

CASH GRANTS 

In England
The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

  • For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000.
  • For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.

Businesses based in England, in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector are eligible. 

For those eligible for Small Business Rate Relief
The Government is providing additional funding for Local Authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

  Read more about the Small Business Grant Funding

The BEF have had confirmation from the Sport and Recreation Alliance that riding schools, livery yards and competition centres fall under the umbrella of those businesses considered to be ‘for assembly and leisure’ – provided they are normally open to the public – and as such are eligible for the help currently on offer from the Government:

You do not need to take any action, if you are eligible for the grant you will be contacted by your local authority. If you are unsure who your local authority is, you can check via the Governments Find your local council tool. 

  Read the Small Business Grant Fund and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund Guidance

In Scotland
Retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with a rateable value between £18,000 and up to and including £51,000 will be able to apply for a one-off grant of £25,000. A one-off grant of £10,000 will also be available to small businesses who get Small Business Bonus Scheme Relief Rural Relief. We are currently awaiting details of how businesses will be able to claim this money. 

In Wales

  • £25,000 grant for retail, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of between £12,001 and £51,000
  • Small firms eligible for Small Business Rates relief with a rateable value of £12,000 or less will receive a £10,000 grant.
  • You can find additional details on the Business Wales website

Business rates 

A business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England has been introduced for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

You are eligible for the business rates holiday if your business is based in England and your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector. 

This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020 and you do not need to take any action. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

  Read the Expanded Retail Discount 2020/21: Coronavirus Response – Local Authority Guidance 


In Scotland

  • 12 months 100% relief rates holiday for businesses in hospitality, leisure and retail. Grants will also available for Scottish companies in this sector
  • All non-domestic properties will get 1.6% relief, reversing the poundage change.
  • You can find additional detail on the Scottish Government’s package of reliefs and grants here

In Wales

  • 12 month rates relief for businesses in retail, leisure and hospitality
  • Shops, leisure and hospitality businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or less will receive 100% business rates relief, administered through their local authority
  • You can find additional details on the Business Wales website 

Payment of VAT has been deferred 

VAT has been deferred for the next quarter (these payments can now be paid at the end of the financial year) 

This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020 to 2021 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.

Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return.

Confirming with lenders to provide mortgage payment holidays of at least 3 months for those facing finance issues as a result of coronavirus. 

HMRC TIME TO PAY

HMRC have scaled up their Time to Pay offer to all firms and individuals who are in temporary financial distress as a result of COVID-19 and have outstanding tax liabilities. If you think you or your business is eligible for support through Time to Pay, you can call the following helpline number to get practical help and advice on 0800 0159 559.

Arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. For more information, please check the HMRC site here 

80% wage cover - furlough

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been presented by the Government as an emergency response available to all UK employers.

The scheme is designed to pay employees up to 80% of their salary to stay at home. The hope is that this will give employers financial breathing space and save jobs where otherwise lay offs or redundencies may have been necessary.

WHAT IT MEANS AND HOW IT WILL WORK

It is a “furlough “of employees who would be out of a job but still be registered with their employer and therefore receiving 80% of their wage.

  • It applies to all businesses
  • Employees who would otherwise be made redundant can be designated a “furloughed employee” by the employer
  • Furloughed members of staff must not work for the employer during the period of furlough - nor volunteer
  • Furlough is from 1 March 2020, so is to be backdated. It will last for at least 3 months and will be extended if necessary. Note that while the scheme is backdated to the beginning of March as it is intended to support all those employed then, a firm will only be eligible to claim the grant once they have agreed the furlough with their staff and staff have stopped working for the employer. This will of course be subject to employment law in the usual way.
  • It is available to employees on the payroll at 29 February 2020
  • The scheme pays a grant (not a loan) to the employer. 
  • It is the employer’s decision, but the employee will have to agree
  • They will get 80% of wages - the employer does not have to top it up to full wages
  • Likely to be based on February’s wages
  • Apprentices are employees, and they are treated as such for tax purposes. This means for them that you pay income tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs) in the same way as everyone else, via the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system. 

 

THE PROCESS

The employer would notify the employee they were selected for furlough and get the employee’s agreement.

The proper agreements must be in place with employees to vary their contracts of employment and to make the new pay arrangements effective.

It is not yet clear as to how the employee would be requested to return to work but assumed that this would happen when the business was able to re-employee.


PROCESS FOR PAYMENT

  • The grant will be paid to the employer through a new online system which is being built for this purpose.
  • The employer will pay the employee through payroll 
  • Scheme will be administered by HMRC:
    • Relevant employees must be designated as furloughed employees.
    • Employers will submit information to HMRC through a new online portal.
    • As this will take time to build, businesses should look to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support cash flow in the meantime. 
  • Maximum grant will be calculated per employee and is the lower of:
    • 80% of ‘wages’. The notes published so far, use the phrase ‘wage for all employment costs up to a cap of £2,500 per month’. It is our understanding that this includes employers' NIC and pension contributions. Wages will be determined by reference to a defined period (yet to be announced).
    • £2,500 per month.

 HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.


Furlough letter template

Download this template and use for your employees.

 

AS SOON AS THERE IS MORE INFORMATION, WE WILL SHARE IT

STAFF ACCOMmodATION - Furlough

If my staff are on furlough and they have accommodation with their job, that is where they live, what do I do?
Let them stay – it is too complicated to evict them and then reinstate. 

Staff who have a horse - furlough

My member of staff has a horse stabled as part of her package, how is that effected by furlough?

Victoria von Wachter, from 5 Essex Court advises:
"Issue invoices for the livery, but consider provision for staggered or deferred payment. 

(As a general point, a decision of the  Revenue 1st Tier Tax Tribunal recently published seems to indicate that where staff are on NMW and therefore not paying tax or NI, then deducting sums such as this, even with permission, could act so as to reduce the NMW below the statutory limit. 

In this situation it is best to keep these items separate and issue an invoice rather than making  a deduction from pay. Clearly this does not apply where the employee earns enough to be paying tax and NI such that the deduction for horse keep (or anything else) does not drop their hourly rate below the  NMW base line. Deductions  from net salary are commonplace in industry and cover such things as child care vouchers, dental plans, gym  membership etc. Of course this usually applies to staff who earn significantly enough that such deductions would not being them anywhere near to the NMW.)"

I am self employed

  • Suspension of the minimum income floor for the self-employed: self-employed people can now access, in full, Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees
  • Increasing the Universal Credit standard allowance, for the next 12 months, by £1,000 a year and increasing the Working Tax Credit basic element by the same amount.
  • Taxes - next self-assessment payments deferred to Jan 2021 for the self employed
  • AWAITING MORE details


 

 

Advice for employers

Reducing employees hours

I still need my staff to care for the horses, can I significantly reduce the hours of my employees?

Furlough is all or nothing, you can not furlough staff and then ask them to work a few hours or volunteer. If reduced hours are wanted then short time working is the way forward.  

WHAT IS SHORT TIME-WORKING?
This is where an employer reduces the hours the employee is required to work by reducing the number of working days and/or hours the employee works in a day. The employee’s wages are reduced accordingly.

CAN EMPLOYERS IMPOSE SHORT-TIME WORKING
Employers can only impose short-time working where there is a contractual right to do so, for example, in the contract of employment, a collective agreement, or possibly through custom and practice. Flexibility as to how hours are reduced, how long the arrangements can last, who is selected, and so on, may depend on how the contractual provisions are drafted.

WHAT HAPPENS IF IT IS NOT IN THE CONTRACT OR THERE HASN'T BEEN A CONTRACT ISSUED 
The employer should present its proposal to the relevant employees, or their representatives, explaining why it considers that short-time working is necessary with a view to seeking their consent. Many redundancy policies will provide for the employer to consider short-time working before carrying out any compulsory redundancies and this may help in getting employee buy in.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY EMPLOYEE REFUSES
If the employee refuses, the employer will have to consider alternatives. These may include compulsory redundancy (although this will only apply if there is a reduced requirement for people to carry out the work for which the employee(s) is/were hired), putting the employee on furlough, or dismissal on the grounds of some other substantial reason. This is a complex area, however, and so further advice should be sought.

HOW SHOULD AN EMPLOYER IMPLEMENT SHORT-TIME WORKING
Even when an employer has the right to impose short-time working, if it is not exercised regularly, the situation should be handled sensitively. As employee pay will be reduced, it is sensible to communicate with the workforce and explain the company’s thinking behind the reduction in hours, to encourage employees to be “on side”. If the reduction is to reduce or avoid redundancies, employees are likely to be more amenable to short-time working.

WHAT IF AN EMPLOYER IMPOSES SHORT-TIME WORKING UNILATERALLY
In these circumstances, the employees could bring a number of claims. These could include claims for unlawful deduction from wages, unfair dismissal, breach of contract, redundancy payments (see below) and protective awards. This is a high-risk approach. Be guided by your knowledge of your own workforce in gauging how they might react.

HOW SHOULD EMPLOYERS SELECT EMPLOYEES FOR SHORT-TERM WORKING
If a whole section of the workforce will be affected, selection will be straightforward. If the short-time working pattern requires that you select particular employees, care should be taken to avoid any discriminatory or unfair selection process.

ARE EMPLOYEES ENTITLED TO BE PAID DURING SHORT-TIME WORKING
Yes they are working on amended hours, they will be paid at the pro rata rate. Discuss this further with your accountant or payroll provider. 

WHAT STEPS SHOULD EMPLOYERS TAKE
Check you have a contractual right to impose short-time working?
Work out proposed new working patterns and selection criteria
Beware of inadvertently triggering redundancy payments
Communicate constructively with employees
Use the correct letter template to give to your employee(s)


Compulsory short term working template

Use this version if there is a contractual right to put the employee on short-term working. If you have used the EEA Contract Creator then this is for you, as our version provides you with the right. 


Short term working template

Use this version if there is not a contractual right to put the employee on short-term working. (you have not issued a written statement of terms of employment/written contract or have a version which does not have this clause)

 

MORAL OBLIGATIONS

All employers have a duty of care to ensure that the place of work is safe. This includes providing tissues, adequate antibacterial hand wash and hand sanitiser and insisting on regular hand washing.

Also to ensure that high risk individuals, such as those with any underlying medial conditions or pregnant ladies are given priority.

If you are unaware of the symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the NHS has a comprehensive guide. If you, or a member of your team, are feeling unwell, please call 111 for advice (do not visit your local GP). The NHS have issued guidelines for self-isolating.

Legal obligations regarding sick pay

For businesses with fewer than 250 employees, the Government have announced that they will fund SSP for two weeks of employees and it can be paid immediately (ie no waiting days). 

Sick pay can be paid also to those that are self isolating. 

If an employee refuses to work, can i make them

Working from home is impossible with horses, and they still need to be cared for. If the employee suspects that they have been infected then they must under the new statutory Regs that came out today – be tested and isolated or contained (in a facility).  

If they have merely come into contact with someone who is infected then, again they must be tested. Employees cannot stay at home, just because they feel like it.

Self-isolating and salary

If an employee is self-isolating, do I still have to pay them their full salary? 
Depends on what is in the contract – if there is a sick pay scheme then pay accordingly to that. Otherwise SSP is payable under the new SSP Regs for coronavirus. 

I run a riding school, can I still operate

No. Advice issued by the BEF 20.03.2020 stated that:

The Government’s messaging for social distancing, avoiding unnecessary travel and shielding is growing ever stronger in light of some individuals choosing not to adhere to the guidance. As such, our advice for the cessation of all organised equine activity remains in place in order to support Government recommendations to stay at home wherever possible.

Organised activity includes traveling your horse for lessons or schooling, having a trainer to your yard, having a lesson at a riding centre and riding in large groups.


Please see our questions on what financial Government support is available at this time.

Can I teach individuals?

No. On 23/03/2020 the BEF issed an updated statement which said:

The Government’s messaging for social distancing, avoiding unnecessary travel and shielding is growing ever stronger in light of some individuals choosing not to adhere to the guidance. As such, our advice for the cessation of all organised equine activity remains in place in order to support Government recommendations to stay at home wherever possible.

Organised activity includes traveling your horse for lessons or schooling, having a trainer to your yard, having a lesson at a riding centre and riding in large groups. 

All group lessons and clinics should have been suspended.

Will I have to stop liveries coming to the yard?

The British Equestrian Federation urges all members of the equestrian community to strictly adhere to the Government’s directive to stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary to travel.

The welfare of horses, and other livestock, is still essential, making your travel as an employer, employee or owner to provide care valid under the current guidance. Please keep your own health and safety in mind, as well as that of everyone around you.


At present, there are no definitive guidelines or restrictions around caring for and riding horses, and we will share anything which becomes available from government via the British Horse Council. 

Clients with horses on full livery may fall under the non-essential travel.

All yards should have strict biosecurity and social distancing protocols in place for anyone visiting the yard.

My staff live on site

If your team all live onsite and are not in contact with anyone else then they are in a low risk category.

This risk significantly increases when people visit the yard, such as an owner, client, farrier, vet, or the team go off site.

To minimise the risk nominate one person to shop for everyone and ensure they adhere to all of the recommended biosecurity measures, or arrange for online shopping to be dropped off.

Ensure that thorough cleaning takes place in communal areas such as shared kitchens and bathrooms and that where possible social distancing is still adhered too.

Legally you can not prevent anyone from seeing their friends and family during this time, but ask employees to be mindful and ensure that anyone they are visiting is also adhering to strict biosecurity measures and self isolating where required.

My employee needs to self isolate

My employee needs to self isolate due to a family member – how do I stand?

If the employee works as part of a larger team then they must self isolate as per Government recommendations (7 days for direct contact, 14 days for indirect contact).

If you are struggling with the work load then consider using a freelance groom to help with this shortfall, but socially distancing them from other team members where possible / have them working in shifts.

If your employee is the primary carer for the horses then as long as they are showing no symptoms they are allowed to work, but limit any outside contact from liveries / clients etc – essentially self isolating them with your horses. Ensure that all biosecurity measures are in place and that any supplies such as shopping / horse feed is dropped off to the yard and left by a nominated person to avoid any direct contact.




ridiNG & CARING FOR HORSES 

Updated 24/03/2020: The British Equestrian Federation urges all members of the equestrian community to strictly adhere to the Government’s directive to stay at home unless it’s absolutely necessary to travel.

The welfare of horses, and other livestock, is still essential, making your travel as an employer, employee or owner to provide care valid under the current guidance.

Please keep your own health and safety in mind, as well as that of your employees, clients and everyone around you.

At present, there are no definitive guidelines or restrictions around caring for and riding horses, and we will share anything which becomes available from government via the British Horse Council.

To help through these uncertain and ever-changing times, they have put together some guidance for all around looking after and riding horses under the current requirements.

GOING TO THE YARD



Do
  • Keep visits to a minimum without compromising your horse’s welfare – consider a buddy system with another livery
  • Go to the yard solo – no passengers, family or children
  • Change into clean yard clothes
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water before leaving the house
  • Consider putting your horse on full livery if it’s available and financially viable
  • If your horse is on full livery, only make essential yard journeys. Keep in touch by phone, email or video call with the yard.

AT THE YARD

  • Respect any restrictions put in place by the yard owner or manager – they are for your safety and their own. It’s their business and/or home.
  • Wash hands thoroughly on arrival – take soap and water with you if the facilities aren’t available
  • Maintain social distancing with other liveries and avoid common areas, such as tea rooms, as much as possible. Keep at least two metres apart at any time
  • Use your own equipment. If you need to use shared equipment such as wheelbarrows or hosepipes, disinfect the areas you’re touching or wear disposable gloves
  • Avoid activities that carry an increased risk of injury and consider wearing an up-to-standard riding hat while handling your horse
  • Assess your horse’s diet, and reduce energy intake according to the reduced levels of exercise you may be providing
  • Take advantage of feed, hay and bedding suppliers who offer a delivery service, and liaise with them closely to ensure that their service isn’t impacted. Make provision of essential supplies so you are prepared in the event of a shortage
  • Limit the number of visitors to the yard, and ask that those who do visit closely follow hygiene and social distancing guidance

LEAVING THE YARD

  • Keep your visit timely and avoid lingering – only carry out what’s necessary to ensure your horse’s welfare and wellbeing
  • Wash hands thoroughly before leaving the yard
  • If you have hand sanitiser that’s at least 60% alcohol, use it to clean your hands when you get into your car

Arriving home

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap straight away
  • Have a specific ‘yard visit’ towel to dry your hands on
  • Get changed immediately into clean, fresh clothes

If you keep your horse(s) at home, many of these points, particularly around hygiene and clothing, should be observed.

stagger clients visiting times

If you have liveries (this principle could even work with staff) stagger the times they are on the yard by giving them time slots. 

Ensure that all clients follow strict biosecurity measures and adhere to social distancing.

Can my vet and farrier still visit

Yes. They are classed as key workers. Many veterinary practices are now operating an emergency only service to avoid unnecessary contact and travel. Contact your vets and farriers for their own protocols.

British Equestrian Veterinary Association (BEVA)

BEVA has issued guidance for the veterinary profession on the level of service they should be offering so horse owners can be clear on the position. In a bid to protect human health and follow the government recommendations, they will work towards maintaining as 24-hour emergency service only. This means they are advising all non-essential and routine work to be stopped.

Vets are being asked to consider telephone and video consultations and where a physical examination is necessary, the owner/handler/trainer should declare they are free from coronavirus.

BEVA is working with a number of other bodies on the status equine influenza booster vaccinations as this will have an impact on horses in competition and racing. An update will be issued next week on the position.

Routine stud and reproductive work is being looked at for further guidance. 

British Farriers and Blacksmiths Association (BFBA)

Farriery is considered essential work and they have introduced a traffic light system to help with which appointments to attend.

Non-crucial hoofcare should be avoided if there is no risk of long term effects, where horses require time-sensitive appointments on welfare/soundness issues consideration should be given as advisory hoofcare and then where by not attending there may be serious detrimental effects on the horse, defined as crucial hoofcare.

Farriers have been instructed to:

  • Call ahead to verify that no one present is ill or has been in contact with anyone who is ill. 
  • No more than one owner or carer should be in attendance at appointments and should tie the horse up and then immediately move away to a safe distance
  • Observe the current coronavirus hygiene guidance.

A number of horse owners are considering ‘roughing off’ horses with their farrier’s advice and this may require moving horses to different locations. We would advise that, on welfare grounds, this would be permissible as in the long run it would lessen journeys and contact. Please ensure you maintain the two metre rule and only have two people maximum involved in the move.

RIDING

There is currently no Government guidance that we are aware of in relation to riding, so it is down to you to decide whether this is necessary. Given that health services are currently stretched to capacity, it’s sensible to avoid any activities that carry an increased risk of injury, such as jumping, fast work and riding a young, fresh or spooky horse.

If you must hack out, be mindful of other people walking, cycling and running, and keep the two-metre distance. Lungeing, in-hand work and turn-out are good alternatives to ridden exercise.

We continue to strongly recommend against any unnecessary travel, which includes transporting your horse for anything other than emergency care. Travel to competition or training venues, having a coach travel to your yard, having a lesson at a riding centre or riding in large groups is not advised.

What changes should i make on my yard

Some businesses have started to either separate people into two teams, or stagger working times to reduce the face to face contact between staff members.

Where possible keep staff away from each other, including staggering lunch and break times to assist social distancing.

Ensure that all staff members are aware of the biosecurity protocols in place on the yard and adhere to them.

Regularly disinfect commonly used equipment such as mucking out tools, door handles, grooming kits etc.

PREPARE FOR SELF-ISOLATION

Make a plan with your staff for what will happen if you or they are unable to get to the yard.

If you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 or if somebody in your household does, even if they’re only mild, do not visit your horse.

You will need to self-isolate for at least seven days or 14 in a shared household. If you have no alternative and it’s a question of welfare, you can attend to your horse but only as a last resort and within your own property boundaries when riding.

 



YOUR MENTAL HEALTH 

Your mental health matters and at a time when everything seems a little uncertain it is important to stay in communication with those around you.

If you are feeling worried or out of sorts then have a look at Employers Minds, our online support to help you. 

Remember at this time your friends and colleagues may also be struggling so reach out and stay in contact. Here at the EEA we are open as normal and here to chat and help where we can.  



As the coronavirus continues to spread keep up to date with advice from the NHS who has detailed information on staying safe, and symptoms.

The BEF will issue regular statements from Member Bodies regarding their standing on the situation and events.

If you have a question that is not answered please get in touch - we are here to help you. 

 

 

 

 
 

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