Houston Museum of Natural Science furloughs 70% of staff due to shutdown

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Thursday, April 9, 2020
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston workforce is taking another hit as the Houston Museum of Natural Science announced Thursday it will furlough 337 employees, which make up 70% of its total staff, effective immediately.

The museum said the shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on its organization.

All furloughed employees will remain eligible for health insurance and other benefits until at least May 31.

The organization said it has also decided that the pay of all remaining 144 employees will be reduced by at least 15%, effective immediately.

The museum released this full statement:

Like many non-profit and for-profit organizations across the country, the Houston Museum of Natural Science is adjusting to the challenging circumstances resulting from the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the consequent shut down of the economy.
Given the significant financial impact on our organization, we are continually evaluating expenses, re-defining objectives and streamlining processes to ensure that the museum is able to resume operations once this crisis has passed.

As part of that process, we have arrived at the difficult decision to furlough 337 employees, 70% of our total staff, effective immediately.

All furloughed employees remain eligible for health insurance and other benefits until at least May 31st.

We also strongly encourage all furloughed employees to file for unemployment benefits and to take advantage of all other "safety net" programs -including those that may provide deferment/forgiveness of student loans, credit card payments, rent & mortgage payments, utilities, insurance and more.

In addition, the pay of all remaining 144 employees will also be reduced by at least 15% effective immediately; and we will continue to monitor the city-, state- and nation-wide situation as it develops and take additional actions if warranted.

Our goal is to emerge from this crisis stronger than ever, and to re-assemble our world-class team, all of whom are part of the HMNS family. Their skills, passion, knowledge and commitment built HMNS, and it is our firm belief that we will soon be able to welcome them back-along with our members and visitors-to the Houston Museum of Natural Science in the very near future.

If anyone would like to assist HMNS in accomplishing that goal sooner than later, please visit us at www.hmns.org.

Along with the museum, Houston's energy industry is struggling during this shutdown.

Multiple companies, including Halliburton and Schlumberger have furloughed workers and cut executive salaries.

Some economists predict the greater Houston area will see more than 150,000 job losses through the end of the year due to the coronavirus and an energy industry downturn.