HR, Finance & law

Five things to consider when furloughing charity staff

Five things to keep in mind when furloughing staff under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

This is a reflection of my experience, as DSC has furloughed nearly 70% of our work force due to the impact on our income due to Covid-19. Please contact your lawyers if you have any specific legal questions.

  1. This is a crappy situation and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed, angry and powerless. This isn’t a decision that any charities want to have to make – we want to serve our beneficiaries first and foremost.  Wrangling with how to do this with fewer staff available to us, is never going to be ideal. This is a situation completely out of our control and the goalposts are moving every day.
  2. Familiarise yourself with the government advice and chat with your lawyers about the legal bits and pieces you need to know – such as obtaining written consent from those who are agreeing to be furloughed – very few will actually already have a clause in their employment contract to allow furloughing.
  3. The government will fund 80% of salaries up to £2500 per month – assess your current financial position and if you can’t top up the additional 20% don’t feel disheartened. You can signpost your staff to further help they can get with mortgage payments, advice for renters and so on…
  4. Honesty is the best policy – be honest with your staff about the charities current financial situation – explain your dip in income because, for example, the London Marathon has been rescheduled, or the fact that your fundraising dinner normally brings in half of your income this quarter. Furlough is about staff still having a job at the end of the corona situation and if you think you’ll go bust without the government help then tell them that.
  5. Remember that those you’re furloughing are human beings. They may feel a bit miffed and helpless. Reassurance is key. Having to sign stuff is scary – especially if they feel unsure about what it means for their role long term. Give staff a safe space to moan, get angry and upset. We’re all unsure about what the future will bring and by going on furlough staff may feel that you’re taking away their ability to help the charity get out of this situation.