Responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic: An Update on ‘Furlough’

Organisations across the country are now taking significant steps in response to the unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic. Following this, we wanted to update you that the Students’ Union will be furloughing 30 members of our permanent team, and most of our casual student staff team, as of 1 April 2020. Furlough is a measure that effectively means putting jobs on hold temporarily, this enables organisations to continue employing and paying staff during these exceptional times.

Key services will continue to function and we will continue to have staff working in the Union Shop, Student Voice (including all of the Sabbatical Officers), Student Opportunities (supporting student groups), the Advice Centre, and within our Marketing & Communications team.

We want to be really clear here: we are still working hard on planning, and still delivering key services that are possible during this time. 

Jack O’Neill, SU President, said: “Faced with an unprecedented situation, it was important that we acted in a fast and decisive manner. Working with the Union’s senior management team, we have put in place a staffing structure that is primarily focused on delivering five key areas – student representation, the Advice Centre, student group support, the Union Shop, and communicating with you via our Marketing & Communications team.

“The Officer Group will continue to lobby the College and represent your views at the highest level throughout these challenging times and we are confident we can continue to make positive changes despite the unique conditions we are working in.

“In developing our response we have worked closely with the University, who have committed their support to us, but it's important we also act responsibly in the long-term interests of the organisation."

The annual cost to run the charitable side of the SU is approximately £1.6m, of which £700k comes from our revenue-generating activities (such as the Union Venue) which have now stopped. Placing staff on furlough will allow the Union to access key government support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - a temporary measure aimed at supporting organisations across the country that are now unable to generate revenue.

The Students’ Union Chief Executive Dr Tom Flynn commented on the announcement: “The entire senior management team is immensely proud of the work delivered by our staff team - both permanent and student - over the last few weeks. They have worked tirelessly to put in place new systems in response to Covid-19 which will allow the Union to continue working on behalf of Royal Holloway students.”