After months of lockdown, the indoor soccer field at the Pickering Football Club is bustling with activity again. It is not surprising at all, given the variety of programs – competitive and recreational – the Club offers for soccer enthusiasts of all ages.
“We run programs for children as young as three and for adults. Some of the adults are in their late 70s or early 80s. This is because we have a walking soccer program, which is probably one of only one or two walking programs in the province, if not the country,” says Matt Greenwood, Executive Director, Pickering Football Club (PFC).
The Club also offers programs for children and youth with special needs. PFC has 15 employees (full-time and part-time) besides 30-odd coaches that work with different teams on a weekly basis.
The Pickering Football Club has been a Peninsula client since March 2018.
“We’re not really of the size that we could have an HR department or somebody on staff, even part time, from an HR perspective,” says Matt.
At the same time, the Club felt the need for professional support for better HR management.
“Gaining the support and expertise of Peninsula helped fill that gap for us. We stumbled across Peninsula and looked into their services in more depth. We realised that this could be an ideal solution for us,” he says.
Matt says Peninsula helped the Club review and update current employment contracts and their staff manual to ensure they were ESA compliant.
“We have a lot of policies that protect the Club. We wanted to make sure the policies that protected our staff were equally robust and compliant with the law. So going through that process was helpful,” says Matt.
“It is great having Peninsula’s expert advisors on speed dial,” says Matt referring to Peninsula’s 24/7 Employer Advice Line. “Even if it is a simple question, say about vacation time over a long weekend, or something complex, such as a COVID-19 related work refusal.”
Matt says they also benefit from Peninsula’s email updates on legislation and news concerning small businesses. “Peninsula is prompt on providing one-page documents via email on a regular basis to give us the heads-up,” he says. “Peninsula has their ear to the ground when it comes to those subtle changes to the law.”
“If we still have questions we can just call or shoot an email and get a response within 24 hours,” says Matt.
Health and safety
“There aren’t too many clubs like ours that have a full-time administrative structure,” says Matt.
“Our facility is open most days, particularly in winter, from 4pm till almost midnight during the week,” he says. “And usually from 7 or 8 am till midnight on the weekends. There are a lot of potential risks that might come up. We need to make sure we have our checks and balances in place.”
Matt says Peninsula’s health and safety support enabled them to review what they were doing well and what they might be able to do better.
“Whether that’s from a practical perspective of being present in the facility or from a documentation perspective of having our health and safety paperwork and protocols in place,” he says.
The Club was hit hard by the pandemic in March 2020 when all soccer was suspended, says Matt. “But we were able to return to play around early July.”
Matt says they didn’t specifically reach out to Peninsula for COVID-19 challenges as they received step-by-step instructions from their governing body – Ontario Soccer.
But they used the resources, guidance and information Peninsula sent across along with the guidance from their governing body.
“Ontario Soccer’s guidance would be focused on players and coaches on the field. It wasn’t always focused on staff and if it was, then it might not have been in as much detail as we’d hope,” says Matt. “So, we did use Peninsula as a backup resource.”
Peninsula’s expertise and health and safety resources were also beneficial when they started bringing staff back to work in the past few months.
“Checking back in with those resources that Peninsula shared with us on a regular basis helped ensure we had safety protocols in place. All those reminders that Peninsula provides are great to share with staff as well,” says Matt.
“The legal assistance [the Peninsula Protect service] has been very useful,” says Matt. “Knowing that you have such a support in place in case something escalates brings peace of mind. Particularly in an industry like ours, where you have different types of roles: full time, part time, contract staff, salaried staff, volunteers. There are different types of people that connect with a Club like ours,” he says.
Peninsula Protect provides Peninsula clients with expert legal representation and support in case of an employment dispute or health and safety investigation.
The Peninsula Service
Matt says they would 100% recommend Peninsula to any business that doesn’t have or is struggling with their HR management.
“Employment law is moving so rapidly that having a company like Peninsula that has its ear to the ground and is available to provide timely updates, support, and resources is a huge weight off our shoulders. We can concentrate on the business of soccer, the business of sports and getting people back out onto the field,” says Matt.
“Companies that don’t have this sort of professional expertise in place leave themselves out to much greater risks,” he says.