Queens Furlough
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Nick Birse

Queen’s University Belfast to temporarily furlough staff

Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) is to furlough up to 200 members of staff, the BBC has reported.

Roughly 5% of the QUB’s 4000 members of staff will be placed on the government-funded Covid-19 scheme, which guarantees 80% of their wages.

It is understood staff members who work in commercial areas, including events, conferences, sports and catering, are among those affected.

However, QUB said it would ensure that all furloughed staff received their usual monthly salary.

In a statement, the university described its lockdown measures, and explained the impact of Covid-19 on its service, many of which were affected as the QUB campus closed in March.

It said: “Queen’s University has adapted its operations to continue to deliver education, research and key services during the pandemic in a way that protects the safety and wellbeing of staff and students.

“However, some services cannot be provided in accordance with the current social distancing measures.

Queen’s University has adapted its operations to continue to deliver education, research and key services during the pandemic in a way that protects the safety and wellbeing of staff and students

– Queen’s University Belfast

“Therefore, the university has decided to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and temporarily furlough staff who are responsible for these services and meet the criteria of the scheme.

“This will only apply to a limited number of staff in a small number of areas.”

In an email to staff, QUB registrar Joanna Clague said that those affected by the decision would not lose out financially.

She said: “Currently, we have taken the decision to pay all our furloughed employees on their normal monthly salary, including National Insurance, tax contributions and, for members, pensions contributions – an approach which goes significantly above the capped limit and 80% contribution offered by the government.

“It is important to emphasise that the decision to furlough a post is not in any way related to the value placed on it by the university.

“These are exceptional times and roles identified for furlough are generally those which cannot be carried out remotely, or where, for other reasons related to Covid-19, there has been a substantial reduction in work.”

QUB is not the only university to use the government’s furlough scheme. In April, Oxford vice-chancellor Prof Louise Richardson announced plans to furlough some of the institution’s 15,000 staff.

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