Message from Jon Chapman, Chair of Trustees
Dear volunteers, Friends and supporters,
I hope you and your families are safe and well in these very strange and challenging times. Rather than writing to you about what we have planned on the river as the cruising season begins, and all the education activities and initiatives kicking off now that spring is here, I’m sadly having to write about the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic, as you will be unsurprised to hear, has had a very significant negative impact on our operations. Bookings for cruises and educational activities have been cancelled for the next 3 months. In the light of this, the directors, in consultation with our staff, are planning to cease temporarily all operations until further notice.
As part of this decision, the directors have agreed that it would be prudent and sensible to seek the agreement of Kate, Peter and Pippa to certain changes to their terms of employment, the effect of which will be to place them on furlough leave for an initial period until 31 May. As you may know, on 20 March 2020, the government announced the Coronavirus Retention Scheme (CJRS) as part of its response to the pandemic. Under the scheme, any employer can obtain a grant to cover 80% of the salary of employees, up to a total of £2,500 per month for each retained employee.
We have now agreed with Kate, Peter and Pippa that they will go on temporary furlough leave this month until 31 May.
Due to their varying residual responsibilities, there will be different furlough start times, with Peter and Kate starting on 10 April and Pippa on 1 May (as she will be preparing our year-end accounts). There will be no change at all to their remuneration, and they will be paid as normal, but furlough leave will allow the charity to recoup some of those employment costs, an opportunity which the directors feel cannot be ignored in these uncertain times.
Our new Education Coordinator, Sophie, was hired too late for us to be able to ask her to agree to be furloughed, so her position will not change.
During their furlough leave, and as a term of the CJRS, Kate, Peter and Pippa are not permitted to carry out any work at all for the charity, even on a voluntary basis. For that reason, they cannot be contacted when on furlough for any work-related matter and I would ask, please, that you note this. I will keep you informed as to where we are on the furlough arrangements and when we intend to resume operation (we can end any period of furlough, if needed, by one week’s notice).
We have a full handover plan in place for this furlough period and will ensure that any responsibilities of Kate, Peter and Pippa are taken on by directors. Pippa will be monitoring all communications to the charity until 30 April and passing them on to an appropriate trustee, and Sophie will take this role over until 31 May.
I would like to thank Kate, Peter, Pippa and Sophie on behalf of all the directors for all their positivity, great input and help during what has been a very testing few weeks. Really looking forward to seeing them all back to full duties as and when we resume operations, which I sincerely hope will not be too long!
With best wishes,