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Coronavirus and theme parks

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YOUR PARK UPDATE

At Village Roadshow Theme Parks our number one priority remains the health and safety of our guests and team members.

TEMPORARY CLOSURE UPDATE 

VRTP is continuing to follow Government updates regarding COVID-19 and at this stage Warner Bros. Movie World, Sea World, Wet’n’Wild, Paradise Country and Topgolf will remain temporarily closed until at least 30 April.

Australian Outback Spectacular is also temporarily closed and more information can be found here.

Throughout the closure we have been engaging with our team members and will continue to support them during this period, including providing access to their accrued leave entitlements. VRTP is also allowing team members who have exhausted all of their leave entitlements during the stand down to go into ten-days negative leave.

Since COVID-19 emerged, VRTP has worked closely with Government and leading experts to ensure that at all times it has adopted the highest level of health and safety practices and we are continuing to work actively with all levels of Government during this difficult time.

Our dedicated teams will continue to care for the animals at Sea World, Paradise Country and Australian Outback Spectacular during the temporary closure.

Village Roadshow Theme Parks will continuously review the situation and will take steps to ensure that once the threat of COVID-19 passes, it will continue to operate as the leading theme park business in Australia.

SEA WORLD RESORT UPDATE 

Following the impact of COVID-19 including Government restrictions affecting interstate and international travel, dining and recreation facilities and the request for social distancing, the decision has been made to reduce operations at Sea World Resort.

Sea World Resort will continue to operate however, we will monitor the situation and follow the advice and guidelines of the Government and the Queensland Hotels Association. 

WHEN WILL THE ATTRACTIONS RE-OPEN

At this stage, we anticipate the Theme Parks, Australian Outback Spectacular and Topgolf to remain temporarily closed until at least 30 April. VRTP will continuously review the situation and will take steps to ensure that once the threat of COVID-19 passes, it will continue to operate as the leading theme park business in Australia.

HEALTH & SAFETY

Since COVID-19 emerged, VRTP has worked closely with Government and leading experts to ensure that at all times it has adopted the highest level of health & safety practices and there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at our venues.

TICKET HOLDERS, PASS HOLDERS & EXPERIENCE BOOKINGS

We thank our ticket and pass holders for their understanding during this unprecedented period and specific information about each ticket and experience type can be found in the FAQs.

FUTURE UPDATES

Village Roadshow Theme Parks maintain close relationships with Government and Health Authorities and will continue to monitor the situation. We will provide further updates via this page and social media.

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Indeed!

 of course, this won't be a major cost to the business, since the majority of our stood down staff are employed on a casual basis and have no leave entitlements whatsoever!

- Actually @AlexB a huge chunk of VTP staff are PPT. Decades ago Management pushed frontline staff on to PPT otherwise allowing them to stay on as Casuals and 'bank' any extra hrs if worked greater than 38 pw. A lot of ppl opted for Casual rates because they are a few dollars p/h higher, trade off - zero entitlements (sick leave, annual leave etc).

Management loved having Casuals on PPT, only having to guarantee 20 hours a week while keeping any entitlements in the payroll account longer, likely until the person would leave. Afterall who can afford to take a break when

1. You get 20 hrs P/W 

2. Your hourly rate is the lowest a Company is legally allowed to pay in Australia.

Finally, those Staff that have worked greater than 12 months would be entitled to the Jobkeeper allowance but I believe that is only if they have been employed on a FT basis. Doubtful that applies to most Retail & F&B staff who would get more on Jobseeker than they would get working 20 hrs at the Parks. Ops staff on the other hand can earn between 30-38 hrs p/w & might be entitled to Jobkeeper, but because they're status is PPT, they may miss out on that technicality, hence why VTP have offered a neg of up to 10 hrs leave.. (wow, a whole 2 weeks for months closed!).

It will likely only be the more back end roles entitled to Jobkeeper. Those in admin/marketing/HR/ senior/supervisor/middle management/clerical rolls etc. Everyone else in the Park (most frontline) are pretty well fucked & better off joining the dole Q.

Some key operatives Cleaners, Gardeners, maintenance, electricians, animal keepers etc will continue working I imagine. 

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5 hours ago, MickeyD said:

Finally, those Staff that have worked greater than 12 months would be entitled to the Jobkeeper allowance but I believe that is only if they have been employed on a FT basis. Doubtful that applies to most Retail & F&B staff who would get more on Jobseeker than they would get working 20 hrs at the Parks. Ops staff on the other hand can earn between 30-38 hrs p/w & might be entitled to Jobkeeper, but because they're status is PPT, they may miss out on that technicality, hence why VTP have offered a neg of up to 10 hrs leave.. (wow, a whole 2 weeks for months closed!).

It will likely only be the more back end roles entitled to Jobkeeper. Those in admin/marketing/HR/ senior/supervisor/middle management/clerical rolls etc. Everyone else in the Park (most frontline) are pretty well fucked & better off joining the dole Q.

Mickey - I respect you mate, but just like your superannuation fund advice, you've missed the mark again (although, a lot of this stuff is info heavy - which is typical of government guff of this type).

Folks - there's a lot of rumor, half-truths, and opinions out there. Make sure you get your info from reputable sources - sites that end in ".gov.au" or in the case of the virus - 'who.int". (And also, there's now an app for that).

In this case, this is the treasury fact sheet for the Job Keeper payment.

Points from the fact sheet to note:

  1. The business has to show at least a 30% downturn in business, or 50% if their turnover is over $1Billion (Either way village hits this easily due to the shutdown)
  2. the worker must have been engaged as at 1 March (ie: "on the payroll") and they have to continue to be engaged - which includes workers if they were subsequently 'stood down' and\or 're-hired'.
  3. The worker is an eligible employee if they were full time, part time, or casual employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March.
  4. The worker has to be over 16, be an Australian citizen, or hold a permanent visa or special category (new zealand) visa, and not be receiving the job keeper payment from another employer.

Also - regardless of how many hours the person worked, they receive the full $1500 per fortnight (before tax). If you're a casual 17 year old who has worked at the park selling popcorn since you were 15, doing 1 shift per week for 5 hours - you will get $1500 per fortnight under this scheme (provided you're a citizen or relevant visa holder). If you normally got paid more than that, what you get depends on if you continue to work or were stood down (theres some examples at the bottom of the fact sheet).

All of the information I have provided here is based entirely on publicly accessible information on the treasury website.

So to all those folks who are out of work - keep an eye out (or ask your boss) whether they are applying for the job keeper payment system, and what this means for you.

5 hours ago, MickeyD said:

 a huge chunk of VTP staff are PPT

I did not know that! I know several parks and other tourism based organisations that have large casual workforce, so i'm rather surprised that Village isn't the same.

Edited by AlexB
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Wow didn't I just get told hahaha😲

But thanks for the detailed, accurate correction @AlexB .. We can always count on you for delivering the well researched facts. The amount of energy you put into posts is impressive - usually all while working too, so it seems. I can't even do that while NOT working, so well done (seriously!)

The mass PPT push started late 1990's. It has been widely believed that you could get a greater level of commitment by offering a seemingly better payment status type. Personally I always thought it was a cop out given the significant difference between rates.

Being a 10-5 standard operation, very few frontline staff at the Parks can't possibly accrue a 40 hr week unless they do evening functions, extra shifts or cross department multi-skilling.

Not sure if it's practice nowadays but from around 1998 we started training up f&b staff to work some of the more push button roles like kiddie rides, WWF & LW. Before to long those hard working f&b staff no longer wanted to work carrying popcorn trays etc (unsurprisingly), Ops would take them on, however the only option offered to them (and for all future new staff) was ppt.

Given all rides today are push button with little to zero performance/ presentation skills required I wouldn't be surprised if many new staff are initially hired as casual f&b or retail with future prospects of PPT positions, if keen to move over to somewhere a little more permanent feeling like ops.

 

 

 

 

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21 hours ago, AlexB said:

The worker is an eligible employee if they were full time, part time, or casual employed on a regular basis for longer than 12 months as at 1 March.

Treasury papers were updated around this language yesterday to be clear that full time and part time employees are eligible, and casual employees that were employed on a regular basis for 12 months are also eligible.

I know it can be read that way above (and its how it reads in the treasury link above too), but it seems there was some confusion about workers who were full time (or part time) employed but had worked for that employer for less than 12 months - so that clears that up!

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I've got to be honest and say I don't know. The fact sheets they've got out there is all i'm working off.

In my personal experience, since they don't define it, that means it is either:

  • a commonly used term in workplace law already defined elsewhere
  • based off of the ordinary dictionary meaning of the word
  • loosely defined and therefore subject to discretion without limiting the authority to specifics.

I had a quick look around and the fair work commission has a definition, and that's probably where the buck stops:

Quote

What is employment on a regular and systematic basis?

It is the employment that must be on a regular and systematic basis, not the hours worked. However, a clear pattern or roster of hours is strong evidence of regular and systematic employment.

The term 'regular' implies a repetitive pattern and does not mean frequent, often, uniform or constant.

The term 'systematic' requires that the engagement be 'something that could fairly be called a system, method or plan'.

Where there is no clear pattern or roster, evidence of regular and systematic employment can be established where:

  • the employer offered suitable work when it was available at times that the employee had generally made themselves available, and
  • work was offered and accepted regularly enough that it could no longer be regarded as occasional or irregular.

(My emphasis)

There are several other legal or .gov.au authorities on the definition and they all seem to be fairly similar.

My personal opinion on it is that the line i've bolded above is the crux of it. Regular doesn't mean frequent or often, just a recurring pattern, so "on the books for a year" would broadly tick the box, provided shifts were offered periodically suiting the worker's availability (which could even extend to "only during school holidays" if the employer found that arrangement workable), and that worker accepted the offered shifts regularly enough (which doesn't mean they had to accept every shift either).

If you were still "engaged" (or, "on the books") as a casual simply on the basis that you hadn't resigned and they hadn't terminated you, but you weren't offered or considered for shifts, and you never asked or made yourself available to be rostered, then you arguably aren't employed on a 'regular basis' as there is no recurring pattern of availability or shifts offered.

Thats what it seems like, in my opinion anyway.

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Yeah cheers. It makes sense that because of how quickly they've had to rush it out that there going to be a lot of undefined terms or 1 in 10,000 cases that haven't been specifically dealt with. For example here I know someone who works for the parks but legit only works for them once every few months (if that), and as far as I know doesn't have another job.

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