Quakers furlough staff to protect jobs and services

By agency reporter
April 19, 2020

Britain Yearly Meeting, the national organisation of Quakers in Britain, has furloughed a significant number of staff in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown measures introduced in the UK and other countries to contain the outbreak have severely reduced its income and limited the scope for delivering many aspects of its work.

With the continued closure of its London offices and hired out meeting spaces, Friends House, and Swarthmoor Hall venue in Cumbria, the organisation is unable to generate any trading income. Around two thirds of the organisation's staff are being furloughed under the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Help will still be available for Quaker meetings during the current crisis, and the staff who are remaining at work, operating from home, will continue to support Quakers across Britain in their faith and witness.

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk, said: “We are taking this step to protect jobs and to make sure Britain Yearly Meeting is able to serve the needs of the Quaker community, both now and long into the future. It's devastating to have to furlough many of our dedicated and highly-professional staff, but the gap between our income and expenditure at this time means we have no choice but to make use of the support available from the government job retention scheme."

Under the Job Retention Scheme, the Government will cover 80 per cent of salaries for furloughed staff, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. But Quakers in Britain has committed to going further, and will top up to 100 per cent the salaries of its furloughed staff below this cap.

Paul Parker said: “The wellbeing of our staff is vitally important and we want to treat them as equitably as possible. We have taken this step to support staff on lower salaries during this challenging period."

Some of the staff still working, including the Recording Clerk, will be donating their salary over £2,500 per month back to the organisation.

In selecting which staff will be furloughed the organisation's priorities have been to:

  • protect jobs, both now and in the future
  • serve the current needs of Quakers in Britain
  • ensure the organisation will be able to serve the needs of Quakers in Britain in the future
  • support the well-being of staff

Caroline Nursey, Clerk of Britain Yearly Meeting Trustees, said: “I am very grateful to our staff for managing this difficult situation and for their understanding at this challenging time. I am upholding them through this time, including those who are themselves unwell, and I'm looking forward to seeing them back at work supporting Quakers when the situation improves."

*  Quakers are known formally as the Religious Society of Friends. Around 23,000 people attend 478 Quaker meetings in Britain. Their commitment to equality, justice, peace, simplicity and truth challenges them to seek positive social and legislative change.

* Quakers in Britain https://www.quaker.org.uk/

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