Christian charity removes job listing after salary criticism

19 Mar 2024 News

By Markus Mainka, Adobe

A Christian charity has taken down a job advertisement after criticism of its salary arrangement on social media. 

The advert was for a politics network co-ordinator at Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF), and was advertised as having a salary of £24,503 per year with an annual mobile phone allowance of £270. 

However, the advert stated that the successful applicant would be asked to raise an “initial fundraising requirement” of £8,500 per annum for four years towards their total employment costs. 

The advert was criticised on social media last week, and UCCF took it down the same day. 

But the charity, which aims to advance the Christian faith among students at colleges and universities, said it removed the listing because it had closed to applications rather than in response to critical social media posts.

This comes months after the charity published an investigation into alleged breaches of employment law at the organisation. 

Regulator: ‘Charities must pay fundraisers proportionately’

UCCF, which employs 114 workers and has an income of £4.63m, did not respond to the criticism over the role’s fundraising requirements. 

The deadline for applications to the role was on 11 February, with interviews to be held from 5 to 7 March. 

A spokesperson for the charity told Civil Society: “The advert was taken down simply because the application round had closed. 

“In practice it actually remained up a little bit longer than arranged, but it was simply down following the round deadline.”

A Fundraising Regulator spokesperson said: “Charities must use their funds reasonably and sensibly and pay fundraisers proportionately to the benefit you expect to gain from their work. 

“The Code of Fundraising Practice sets out that employees must be clear if they are employed to fundraise, and that the method of payment meets Employment Rights Act 1996.”

Charities partner Shivaji Shiva and employment lawyer Kathy Halliday from VWV told Civil Society it was unclear whether the advert posed a legal issue.

“There may be issues about the transparency of the appointment process from an employment perspective,” they said.

“What is clear is there is a reputational risk arising from an advert which prompts questions of this sort and has attracted at least one critical comment.

“Since the advert has been taken down, we assume the charity is now reviewing the situation with a view to addressing such concerns.”

Previous investigation into alleged employment breaches

In December 2022, UCCF commissioned a third-party investigation after its trustees received a letter from solicitors representing individuals alleging multiple breaches of employment law by the charity as well as misconduct by employees. 

The allegations primarily focused on employees being made to resign after several years in the role. In January 2023, trustees of UCCF submitted a serious incident report to the Charity Commission, the regulator confirmed. 

UCCF suspended two of its directors and commissioned barrister Hilary Winstone of Old Square Chamber to conduct the review. 

Last October, following the investigation, UCCF’s board said that while many of the allegations made in the complainants’ initial letter were not upheld, some of the concerns raised in relation to Christian Union staff workers (CUSW) were upheld. 

At the time, UCCF wrote that there had been a “consistent practice” of CUSWs leaving their employment after three years, with some staying on for four or five.

“The investigation found a small number of instances where the termination of CUSWs’ contracts had been badly handled and conducted in ways that caused them considerable upset and were potentially unlawful,” its statement read.

Meanwhile, a total of six trustees resigned from UCCF last year, including its former chair. 

UCCF said that those who resigned had done so for “a wide range of reasons” and that “none of the trustees who have resigned are in any way implicated in wrongdoing.”

According to the Charity Commission website, all but one of the six current trustees at UCCF were appointed since 2022. 

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