The Victoria Racing Club is to stand down most of its staff for a month and reduce the hours worked by it’s executives amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The VRC, which holds the Melbourne Cup carnival at Flemington, says staff will be asked from Monday to take any outstanding annual leave and can also access long service leave.
The executive team will work a three-day week with a reduction in pay as the club tries to ensure its sustainability.
“We have explored every option and we believe this model will best allow our people and the club to withstand these unprecedented times and resume regular activity as soon as this situation passes,” chief executive Neil Wilson said.
He said all staff would remain employees of the VRC and would continue to accrue both continuity of service and all leave entitlements during the stand-down.
“Our first priority right now is to look after our people, so they can take care of themselves and their families, as we work our way through this unprecedented situation,” Wilson said.
“We will spend the next five weeks monitoring developments and formulating a plan for beyond the 1st of May if required, keeping our people, members, corporate partners and the broader industry regularly informed throughout this period.”
Although the effect of COVID-19 on all sectors including events has been severe, Wilson says the club is still planning the Melbourne Cup carnival.
“We are looking at a number of different scenarios so that we can emerge from this crisis and remain one of the nation’s greatest events that bolsters not only Victoria’s tourism, hospitality and retail sectors but the spirits of a nation,” he said.
“The Melbourne Cup carnival is an iconic Australian event, generating thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars for the economy every year.”
Racing in Australia is continuing under strict biosecurity protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as other sports cancel or postpone their seasons.