Prospect wins for furloughed museum workers

23 April 2020

Prospect has secured top-up wages for furloughed staff in a number of museums.

After keeping up the pressure for furloughed museum workers caught in the middle of a tug-of-war between the Treasury and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, a number of museusms have agreed to top up furloughed workers wages.

Since our meeting with the DCMS, the Science Museum Group, Tate, the National Portrait Gallery, the Natural History Museum, the British Museum and National Museums Liverpool all confirmed that they will be paying the wage top-up to their furloughed staff.

Some NMGs have not yet furloughed any staff and others await DCMS/Treasury decisions.

The row is over the topping up of furloughed museum workers’ salaries under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

National museums and galleries (NMGs) and other heritage organisations had to submit their requests to furlough staff and top up their salaries to the DCMS. The DCMS then had to seek approval from the Treasury.

The Treasury had told the DCMS that arm’s length bodies in the heritage sector, which receive some central funding, should hold on to any extra cash to deal with other cost pressures, instead of paying the 20% top-up above the 80% under the scheme.

Prospect, together with PCS and FDA, met senior officials from DCMS on 20 April and made the case for employing bodies to be able to pay the additional amount.

The DCMS maintained that any authority to top-up would be exceptional and that employing bodies would be informed of decisions on their cases by 22 April.

Prospect national secretary, Alan Leighton, was then quoted in a Guardian story about the issue saying:

“A large percentage of museum staff earn the living wage or a sum close to it.

“Given that other arm’s length bodies seem to be able to top up salaries, it was extraordinary that heritage seems to have been singled out in this way by government.”


From national museums to archaeological trusts, Prospect members are at the heart of our heritage sector.