THE operator of Bournemouth’s BIC and Pavilion is under fire for leaving its casual staff with no wages rather than putting them on the government furlough scheme.

The decision has left some staff looking for other jobs and surviving on universal credit – even though the government would have paid them 80 per cent of their normal pay.

BH Live, the social enterprise that runs Bournemouth’s council-owned leisure and entertainment venues, received a bailout of £2.5million last month from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

But staff who are on zero hours contracts have not been put on the latest job retention scheme because the company would have to pay their National Insurance and pension contributions. They were furloughed earlier in the year.

BH Live has not said how many people are affected by the decision, but one member of staff put the number in Bournemouth at 80-90.

Millions of pounds given to help Bournemouth Pavilion and BIC operator survive

One employee, who can normally make £800-900 a month from working casual shifts, is surviving on £415 in universal credit.

“We’re being hung out to dry,” he said.

“I just want people to know that this is fundamentally wrong.

“What’s the point of having a furlough scheme if the employer is not prepare to pay their national insurance contributions?

“I went for a job at Iceland. There were 351 applicants for the same job. I’ve got bills to pay.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Zero hours contracts have been controversial and mean the employee is not guaranteed any work. However, the staff can be put on the furlough scheme.

However, staff on zero hours contracts can be put on the furlough scheme.

The government then pays them 80 per cent of their earnings from the same month in the previous year, or 80 per cent of their average pay from the 2019-20 tax year – whichever is greater.

BH Live is the third largest leisure and event operator in the UK outside London, running Portsmouth Pyramids and Croydon’s Fairfields Halls as well as Bournemouth’s entertainment venues and the town’s council-owned leisure centres.

A spokesperson from BH Live said: “Under the latest version of the furlough scheme, we’d still be required to make employer contributions at a time when the venues remain closed, and there are no events, or income to sustain those payments.

“We continue to review the options available to us in a bid to retain as many roles as possible during this difficult time.”