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Friday 24 April 2020

Museums and galleries agree to pay full salary to furloughed staff

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The FDA, alongside PCS and Prospect, has secured agreements with museums and galleries across England and Scotland to ensure furloughed staff will receive 100% of their salaries.

All museums and galleries have closed to the public during in response to the government advice for social distancing and to avoid large gatherings due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

These cultural institutions faced significant funding issues as a result of closure due to their mixed funding model – in which Grant in Aid funding from government makes up less than 50% for most museums and galleries, with the remainder being raised through a combination of commercial and fundraising activities.

In response to this, the FDA entered discussions with a number of cultural institutions about applying for the Government’s furlough scheme. The FDA supported this approach but only on the condition that furloughed staff would receive 100% of their salary, not just the 80% covered by the scheme.
Advice from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) as of the 27 March indicated that Arm’s Length Bodies, such as museums and galleries in England, would be able to apply to the scheme. However, concerns raised by the Treasury cast doubt on whether they would be eligible to apply for the scheme as well as whether they would be permitted to top up salaries to protect members’ earnings.

“Staff working in our museums and galleries shouldn’t face a financial penalty because of the convoluted mixed funding model,” FDA National Officer Helen Kenny said. “While other public sector employees continue to receive full pay, our members faced the prospect of paying the price for the government’s decision to not fully fund its cultural institutions.”

Kenny worked with her colleagues in PCS and Prospect to secure agreement that museums and galleries would be permitted to submit business cases to DCMS for tranches of staff for the use of the furlough scheme.

Working constructively with British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate, the Science Museum Group, the Imperial War Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, the FDA has now successfully reached agreements to ensure that furloughed members across all these institutions will receive 100% of their salary.

“This is a huge win and will provide staff with financial security throughout this pandemic,” Kenny added. “Failure to approve access to the furlough scheme would have caused unneeded uncertainty for our members as well as placing huge pressure on our museums and galleries, who would have likely had to embark on a long and costly staff reduction exercise.”

A similar collective agreement has also been reached in Scotland, which means furloughed staff across National Museums Scotland and National Galleries of Scotland will have their salaries topped up to 100% and not face any financial detriment as a result of the closures.

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