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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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 – 21 April 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 – 23 March 2020
Area meeting trustees will be required to take decisions that may affect their employees. It is really important that you make these decisions quickly without rushing them. 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.
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, in particular if they have accommodation tied to their role. Be mindful of how you can support people during this time.
Taking care of your employees – 23 March 2020
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.
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.
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.
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.
Government job retention scheme (Furlough) – 21 April 2020
What is it?
The Government Job Retention Scheme 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 '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.
Can an employee be furloughed, then work, then furloughed again?
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.
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).
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
Useful contacts and links – 23 March 2020
Online Quaker specific information
Online non-Quaker information
Coronavirus: template briefing for Quaker employees
Quaker Life offers telephone support, advice and information to Quaker employers. Please see the 'contact us' section below for details.
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:
firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0121 472 5171 for more information.
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:
email@example.com, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0121 472 5171.