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Preparation for museum closure: Workforce

Clear communication is important when an organisation undergoes any major change or must make a difficult decision.  

It’s vitally important to seek legal and auditor’s advice as soon as you can to know what your options are before any decisions are made. Your Local Authority might be able provide this pro bono. 

Communication with the workforce

  • Consult and inform the whole workforce before going public with any news. 
  • Understand what things you’re telling staff and volunteers about – e.g., processes, timescales, anything that is not negotiable. Record what information has been shared. 
  • Can the staff and volunteers have an opportunity to input/ be involved? For example, in closure processes or capturing the story of the organisation, place, and people before it closes. 
  • Be transparent about why the decision has been made to close. 
  • If you’re a large organisation then the role of line managers is crucial in communication, so make sure line managers are well-informed and supported. 
  • Avoid an ‘us and them’ situation, such as governing body vs workforce, or employed staff vs volunteers.
  • Understanding the Kubler Ross Change Curve (similar to the grief cycle) will help with recognising and responding to the different reactions people will have to the information you’re communicating. 


Ensure you’re aware of your organisation’s Redundancy Policy, if you have one. If you’re making employees redundant you should take advice as early as possible. 

Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) is the Scottish Government’s initiative to help individuals and employers during redundancy situations.  They support organisations of any size, no matter how many employees are involved, free of charge. 

  • PACE helpline for employers 0800 783 6000 
  • PACE helpline for individuals facing redundancy 0800 917 8000 

Other helpful resources: 

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) ACAS guidance on managing staff redundancies 

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) have a useful redundancy process checklist and link to redundancy pay calculator. 

Also consider: 

  • Redundancy is not just about following the process but, as best as you can, giving staff practical and emotional support to help them move on. (PACE can help with this but you will know your own workforce best.) 
  • It may be a time-consuming process. 
  • Be mindful of treating people fairly and consistently, and don’t disadvantage anyone who may be on furlough, off sick, or on maternity/parental leave. 


Although volunteers will not go through a formal redundancy process it’s still important to support them well. For many people their volunteering work may play a significant role in their life, skills, and wellbeing. Recognising and valuing their contribution will help support them as individuals and influence your local community’s experience and support. 

There is some information around support for volunteers and handling difficult situations in our Volunteer Toolkit.

Volunteer Scotland may also be able to offer further advice and support.

Further resources

Supporting people through a museum closure – Abbot House, Dunfermline 

“If a museum or heritage site has to close, doing something like this video which captures the story of the place and the people who are giving it their all is a great thing to do. Everyone said it helped them so much and is lovely to look back on. It literally helped to give ‘closure’ as well as capturing a moment and a family of volunteers.” Catherine Gillies – Former Heritage Director of Abbot House 

Make Your Mark offer best practice advice for volunteers and organisations who employ volunteers.

Contact us directly for further advice on workforce during museum closure.