Hearts put non-playing employees on furlough as PFA steps in

Hearts have put the majority of non-football staff on furlough leave as an alternative to 50 per cent pay cuts.

Hearts owner Ann Budge. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS

Those affected will stop working immediately at Tynecastle Park and go unpaid by the club until the coronavirus pandemic eases. However, they are entitled to claim 80 per cent of their salaries back from the Government for at least the next three months.

Hearts are the latest Scottish club to use the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which promises to cover 80 per cent of workers’ wages up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

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Celtic and Dundee United also plan to put non-playing staff on furlough.

Hearts employ more than 70 people in administrative and commercial roles, the majority of whom have now been placed on furlough. They have been told they will be welcomed back into their jobs once income improves.

A Hearts spokesperson said: “The board’s priority has always been to both protect jobs and ensure the club’s survival during these unprecedented times. The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic means that many of our operations have effectively been brought to a standstill.

“We are now in a position whereby we can fully utilise the Government’s Job Retention Scheme, and as such we have taken the decision to furlough the majority of non-football employees. This will safeguard jobs and guarantee those employees 80 per cent of their income.

“The club will ensure that no member of staff falls below the Living Wage rate. We will continually review the situation and look forward to welcoming staff back when it is safe and appropriate to do so.”

Owner Ann Budge asked all playing and non-playing staff to accept a 50 per cent pay cut two weeks ago before the Government announced the Job Retention Scheme. Budge has stressed no Hearts employee will be paid less than the Real Living Wage of £18,135.

The club hope to reach a financial agreement with their playing squad as soon as possible. Players remain at home working on personal training programmes and talks regarding their pay reductions are ongoing. They would prefer wages to be deferred rather than cut and PFA Scotland, led by chief executive Fraser Wishart, is conducting negotiations on the players’ behalf.

A statement from the players’ union said: “The players recognise the cashflow problems at the club as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak and wish to assist the club through these difficult times by offering to negotiate substantial wage deferrals. With the guidance of PFA Scotland, clubs across the country have entered into negotiation and agreements with players about wage deferrals alongside their participation in the government’s job retention scheme.

“The Union fully supports this approach and commends the SPFL clubs who have entered into these discussions.

“As we have stated since this situation first began, PFA Scotland is firm in its position that clubs and players can more effectively face the challenges ahead by working together and ensuring that decisions are reached through mutual agreement only.

“Player contracts cannot be terminated, or altered unilaterally, but the union is more than willing to assist in negotiating agreements between clubs and players.

“In addition, our position is should clubs reduce the wages of existing players on valid agreed contracts, and then use the sums saved to sign new players in August, that would be wholly unfair.”