Quaker Life support Quaker meetings, as employers, and their employees (often wardens). We offer advice and guidance on best employment practice and provide access to relevant sources of information.

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Employing meetings and wardens are reminded that there are laws detailing the formal rights and responsibilities of both employers and employees...

- Quaker faith & practice 13.36

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An integral part of Quaker life, wardens are entrusted with paying attention to all those details that make for conditions conducive to worship and welcome. Many Quaker meetings appoint wardens, resident Friends, caretakers, managers on a paid or voluntary basis to manage or work in meeting house premises and grounds.

We arrange peer support and workshops on wardenship and being an employed in a Quaker setting but can not provide employees support and advice on specific issues. The advice and guidance in the following resources is to help Quaker meetings be the best employers that they can be.

Quaker Life does not offer legal advice on employment issues. The employers' resource meets or exceeds the legal requirement and sometimes makes a judgement about Quaker best practice. Where issues are of a technical nature, area meeting trustees may need to seek help from a legal professional.

What does Quaker Life offer to employers?

    Resource

    Quaker employers' resource

    Essential information for Quakers employers' to be compliant and meet Quaker best practice suggestions. The resource includes information on engaging people in residential or non-residential roles on an employed, self-employed or voluntary basis.

    (April 2020 version)

    Resources

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    Work which is rightly the responsibility of office holders and members of the meeting should not be left to wardens, and wardens should not be appointed to those offices which could give rise to a conflict of interest: clerk, assistant clerk, treasurer or managing trustee...
    - Quaker faith and practice 13.37

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    Quaker faith & practice

    Quaker faith & practice 13.33–13.40 concerns wardens, resident Friends and caretakers, who may be employees of the meeting. The latest (fifth) edition of Quaker faith & practice can be read on its dedicated site.

    Meeting house handbook template

    You can use this template to make a handbook for your local meeting. Simply edit and add your own instructions, records and information. By keeping everything in one place you can make life easier for those who help look after meeting houses, especially those new to the task.

    Download the template for a meeting house handbook (Word).

    Confidentiality

    Employment matters require confidentiality between the employer and the employee. It is not appropriate to for meetings to discuss matters relating to employment or specifically to employees in local or area business meetings. These matters are the responsibilities of trustees and decisions should be made at that level. Further information can be found in Quaker Life's Confidentiality leaflet.

    Employers' resource template documents

    The employers' resource provides information for Quaker employers and employees, including key obligations, frequently asked questions and downloadable template documents. Brackets give the year each document has been most recently updated.

    Additional guidance

    Advice for meetings wishing to pay a children's worker

    Click on the links below to access templates of a sample job advert plus recruitment advice and a role description. The contract for meetings to adapt and use when employing a paid children's worker is the written statement of terms and conditions (Contract) of employment above. These are guides so please edit and add your own information.

    Coronavirus: advice and guidance for Quaker employers – 9 June 2020

    This advice is issued to Quaker meetings in Britain. It is to give advice and guidance to employers on how to support employees as best as possible during the global coronavirus [Covid-19] outbreak in 2020.

    Check www.quaker.org.uk/coronavirus as information is changing daily.

    Trustee responsibilities – updated 9 June 2020

    Area meeting trustees will be required to take decisions that may affect their employees. It is important that you make these decisions in a timely way without rushing them and that people who the decisions affect are involved or consulted. Each area meeting's response will be slightly different and will depend upon the resources available the meeting. Local meetings will need to liaise carefully with AM trustees to be sure that what is offered across each area meeting is consistent and fair to all employees and volunteers.

    Volunteers

    You do not have legal responsibility to volunteers in the same way as to employees. Do remember though that decisions you take may have a significant effect on some volunteers if they have accommodation tied to their role. Be mindful of how you can support people during this time.

    Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – updated 9 June 2020

    Government update on 29 May 2020

    The text below is taken directly from the Government website, www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme.

    The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing

    From 1 July, employers can bring back to work employees that have previously been furloughed for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim CJRS grant for their normal hours not worked. When claiming the CJRS grant for furloughed hours employers will need to report and claim for a minimum period of a week.

    The scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June. From this point onwards, employers will only be able to furlough employees that they have furloughed for a full 3 week period prior to 30 June.

    This means that the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June, in order for the current 3 week furlough period to be completed by 30 June. Employers will have until 31 July to make any claims in respect of the period to 30 June.

    Further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims will be published on 12 June. Find out more information on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing.

    Headlines for the introduction of flexible furlough
    • The scheme will continue as it has since March through June and July.
    • In August, the Government will continue to pay 80% of wages, with employers paying National Insurance and pension contributions ('on-costs').
    • In September, employers will be asked to pay 10% of wages plus on-costs, with the Government paying 70%.
    • In October, employers will be asked to pay 20% of wages plus on-costs, with the Government paying 60%.
    • From Wednesday 1 July, a new flexible Job Retention Scheme will be introduced. This would mean, for example, employees could work for two days and be paid by their employer as normal and then furloughed for the remaining three days and have a proportion of their income covered by the scheme.
    • The Job Retention Scheme will close after October.

    What is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

    The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CRJS) aims to support employers during the coronavirus outbreak.

    In order for employers to make a claim, there must be agreement in writing (which may include email) with the relevant employee that they will cease all work in relation to their employment (be 'furloughed') from a specific date. A standard furlough letter is available on the ACAS website. The employer can make a claim for up to 80%, to a maximum of £2500 per month, of salary costs via the HMRC PAYE portal. Employers must operate a PAYE scheme to be eligible. Read further information about the scheme and how to claim. Please note that you will need to review the scheme guidance carefully to understand what you must do to make a claim, and how to calculate the salary costs.

    The 80% of pay is then passed to the employee, who agrees to be furloughed on 80% of normal pay. It is open to the employer to provide a top-up to 100% pay, but the employer does not have to do so. Whether or not a top-up to 100% is made, a written agreement to furlough must be made and kept, in order for the HRMC grant to be accessed. This agreement must be kept for five years, in case of an investigation by HMRC.

    Furloughing must be for a minimum of three weeks and then can be renewed immediately or with a break. The scheme currently runs until the end of June 2020. Employees are eligible if the employer has made a Real Time Information (RTI) filing in respect of that employee by 19 March. The scheme is being updated regularly so it is important to review the Government's guidance regularly.

    When might Quakers use the scheme?

    There are a number of reasons why it may be appropriate for a Quaker employer to put employee(s) on furlough:

    • an employee who administers lettings may currently have no work
    • they cannot operate because they do not have the ability to work from home, or do not have the technology to do so, or they do not have a safe working environment
    • they cannot operate because the organisation has to make savings due to losses in income (eg from lettings): a) now, or b) in the medium to long term to preserve the long term viability of the organisation's work or to protect jobs in the long term.

    Should Quakers use it?

    This is a Government grant available to all employers and so Quakers should use it for the reasons listed earlier during the Coronavirus emergency. If you want to use the scheme, you are strongly advised to read the ACAS guidance on furlough, where you can also access a standard Furlough letter; and the Government job retention scheme guidance. For more technical detail, employers may also want to look at the Treasury Direction on the job retention scheme.

    The decision to put employees on furlough is for the area meeting trustees, who will need to make in consultation with local meetings or whichever body oversees employees. Employers may wish to make swift decisions in order to be able to benefit from the furlough scheme in good time.

    Trustees should think about the stewardship of our financial resources at this time. It may be that area meetings have enough reserves to cover wages for a significant period but this may not be the best use of those funds. Furlough is a national offer made by Government to secure businesses and charities during the Covid-19 pandemic. A period of furlough may be the best option based upon:

    • The Government prioritising its spending to preserve jobs and organisations and stability.
    • This being a fiscal stimulus for the economy to keep spending power in households so that the economy does not go into a deep recession or depression.

    General questions (FAQs)

    Can an employee be part-furloughed?

    Employers cannot currently 'part furlough' an employee. If you agree with the employee that they will reduce their hours of work for a temporary period, you cannot make a claim under the government scheme for the shortfall in salary. From 1 July, employees who have already been furloughed may be able to return to work part-time.

    Can an employee be furloughed, then work, then furloughed again?

    Currently yes, provided each period of furlough lasts at least three weeks. So you could arrange a return to work for a few days (eg to catch up on emails, post, gardening, check buildings), and then return to furlough. However, this may change after 1 July: check for Government updates on CJRS as they are published.

    What if my AM has more than one employee?

    If your area meeting has more than one employee it may be possible for one person to carry out necessary work for more than one of the area meeting buildings. This could allow other employees to be furloughed or the furlough to be rotated between staff members (with each staff member being furloughed for a minimum of three weeks, in accordance with the scheme requirements). However, if employees have not been furloughed prior to 10 June, they will be ineligible for the scheme.

    Can employees work when furloughed?

    No. The Government has made it clear that it expects that no-one on furlough should do any work or volunteer for the organisation that they are employed by. If they do, a claim under the scheme may not be successful. We expect Quaker employers to be compliant with this.

    Is the scheme only for employees who would otherwise be made redundant?

    No. The scheme is an opportunity to retain employees that might otherwise have to stop working for any of the reasons outlined earlier in this document. It is not a replacement for redundancy; an employee could be made redundant while furloughed, or after the period of furlough has ended.

    What can be done by furloughed employees?
    • Training: employees can do training related to their role.
    • Other work: individuals can earn from other work while furloughed but on a basis that allows them to return to the work they have been furloughed from at short notice.
    • Volunteering: employees can volunteer but not for the organisation that has furloughed them.

    Links to information about furlough

    Taking care of your employees – 23 March 2020

    Communicating

    It is really important that during this time you communicate well with colleagues and volunteers that work for your meeting. For an employee the uncertainty about ongoing employment or the status of their role may be more unsettling than the personal effect of the virus.

    Be aware that you may need to issue advice more regularly than you would usually expect to. Area meeting trustees may need to be more readily available to deal with requests and issues that employees have at this time.

    There may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for all employees so be sure to treat people fairly, and in comparable roles equally.

    Mental health

    Many people will be experiencing raised levels of anxiety at this time. As an employer you try to be sympathetic towards employees and requests that they make of you. Try to accommodate people where possible and most of all treat people fairly and with love and tenderness.

    Pastoral care

    You may find it helpful to put in place a support group that can be available by phone or video for employees to seek pastoral support. Consider other ways that you can support employees, volunteers and role-holders.

    Isolation

    Being isolated can be damaging to people's wellbeing. Be aware of role where people may now find themselves isolated. If you are closing your meeting house and you have a residential warden think about how you can keep in touch with them and avoid them becoming separated from the community.

    Supporting furloughed employees (new) – 9 June 2020

    With the timescales for furloughing employees extended it is necessary to pay attention their health and wellbeing. The suggestion in the previous paragraph are just as important for employees who are furloughed as for those who are still working. Each person will be dealing with their own unique situation and furlough should not be being considered as an extended period of leave.

    Employers have a duty of care towards all employees, whether working or on furlough. You won't necessarily be in contact in the same way as with employees who are working, be sure to check in regularly. Many people will be carrying anxiety about work and what they might return to once their furlough period is over. Being in touch can allay some of the fears. Sharing some of the emerging thinking, without sharing details that you may need to go back upon, can help everyone to feel as though they are being kept in touch with changes as they unfold.

    If you can provide training and development opportunities for employees while they are on furlough this could help them feel they are still contributing to their work. Woodbrooke has a range of online courses listed on its website, www.woodbrooke.org.uk/course-category/online/.

    Useful contacts and links – 23 March 2020

    In person

    Online Quaker specific information

    Social media

    Online non-Quaker information

    Coronavirus: template briefing for Quaker employees

    Support

    Employment advice

    Quaker Life offers telephone support, advice and information to Quaker employers. Please see the 'contact us' section below for details.

    Wardenship e-group

    Wardens, resident Friends, caretakers, volunteers, employers and all who are concerned with wardenship are invited to join an email group that allows members to share ideas and information. To join the conversation to give and receive support please subscribe to the wardenship e-group.

    Quaker Centres' Facebook group

    This online space for staff and trustees of Quaker Centres in Britain enables them to share information with one another, explore problems and celebrate successes. Visit the Quaker Centres' Facebook group to find out more.

    Training and events

    Managing our Meeting Houses

    This is an annual course provided by Quaker Life in partnership with Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre. Email: enquiries@woodbrooke.org.uk or phone 0121 472 5171 for more information.

    The next Managing our Meeting Houses event takes place at Woodbrooke, Friday, 4 to Sunday, 6 December 2020.

    Wardens (and other Quaker workers) Talking

    Quaker Life offers a monthly video conference for anyone who works in a Quaker setting. It is an informal way to hear about each other's experience of working for Quakers and to explore some of the joys and challenges of it. Contact: wardenship@quaker.org.uk, for details of how to join this online community.

    We are also hosting a one-day face-to-face gathering on Wednesday, 15 January 2020 at Edinburgh Meeting. There is no charge but you will need to get yourself to and from the venue. To book fill in the wardens talking online booking form.

    Working with Friends

    This introduction to working in a Quaker organisation is provided by Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in partnership with Britain Yearly Meeting. For more information, visit www.woodbrooke.org.uk, email enquiries@woodbrooke.org.uk or phone 0121 472 5171.

    Contact us

    wardenship@quaker.org.uk
    020 7663 1007