Furlough’s finished - so what next?

Julian cole portrait.

Julian Cole

Senior Solicitor

Phone 01264 353411

Email jcole@bsandi.co.uk

As September drew to an end, so did the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Always intended to be a temporary measure to preserve jobs during the pandemic, furlough has been relied on significantly by UK employers and employees. According to the government, 11.6 million jobs have been supported by furlough since it was introduced in March 2020. And it‘s reckoned that almost a million people were still on the scheme when it closed.

But now that the support is no longer available, what’s next for those whose employers couldn’t afford to pay them during Covid?

For some, it will be a relatively straightforward transition back to work. Some employers will now be able to pay salaries in full, and so it will be a case of helping those workers return to their roles. Your workplace may look very different now to the way it looked before the workers left for furlough, so it will be important to introduce them to new ways of working. Perhaps homeworking or hybrid arrangements are now the norm. So think through what’s needed to reintegrate staff, and maybe consider whether the working arrangement should be reshaped – something that should be handled with great care.

The end of furlough will lead to casualties, however. We have been advising employers throughout the pandemic, and many had been hopeful that business would pick up enough, and in time, to retain staff. But the reality for many, particularly those in the sectors most challenged by Covid, is that they will now be forced to make redundancies.

It is so important that every redundancy (and if you are looking to make more than 20 within a 90-day period, collective redundancy) is properly planned and managed. Discrimination and unfair dismissal are two risks of getting an aspect of the process or the decision-making wrong. So employers should be prepared to invest time in getting redundancy right. It can be a challenge - practically, financially and emotionally. But ultimately, it’s about doing what is best for your business’ future.

For advice about redundancy, changing terms and conditions, or another employment law issue, contact us on 01264 353411 or email info@bsandi.co.uk.

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