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Preparation for Museum Closure: Workforce

What happens to the workforce

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

Seek legal and auditors’ advice as soon as you can. It’s vitally important to seek this support 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 the things are you are telling staff and volunteers about – e.g. processes, timescales, anything that is not negotiable - record what information has been shared.
  • Where can the staff and volunteers  have an opportunity to input/ be involved – for example, the way some things might happen, any work to capture the story of the organisation, place and people before closing.
  • Be open about why the decision has been made to close.
  • If you are a large organisation, the role of line managers is crucial in communication as is staff and volunteers' experience of the process – so make sure your line managers are well-informed and supported.
  • Avoid an ‘us and them’ situation – governing body vs workforce; 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 are communicating.


Ensure you are aware of your organisation’s Redundancy Policy, if you have one. If you will be 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 is 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 also 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 be able to offer further advice and support. 

Case Study - Abott House

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


Further support

Contact Museums Galleries Scotland directly for further support and advice.

Related guide

Preparation for Museum Closure: Assets & Collection

Find out more