With 30 September fast approaching, it will be on the minds of both employers and employees taking part in the government’s job retention scheme that furlough is coming to an end.
If there is no further extension to the scheme, this could see a substantial number of employees across the UK facing redundancy if their workplace doesn’t have the capacity to get them back to work.
Noele McClelland, Partner and employment law specialist at Thorntons Solicitors, explains the rights of the employee as we approach the end date of the furlough scheme.
Noele said: “Firstly, if an employee has been on full-time furlough, this doesn’t mean that they should automatically be made redundant if their employer doesn’t have the work or finances to pay them. If there are other employees who are not furloughed, but who carry out the same role, then the employer is still required to go through a fair redundancy selection process, and a furloughed employee should not be placed at a disadvantage because they have not been actively working.
“Depending on the numbers of employees affected, there may also be a requirement for the employer to go through a collective consultation process – either with trade union representatives, if the workplace recognises a union, or with employee representatives. For redundancies of between 20 to 99 employees, this lasts a minimum of 30 days before anyone can be dismissed for redundancy.”
Noele emphasises that employees are entitled to be taken through a fair process, and individuals should ensure that they are not disadvantaged because they were furloughed.
For employees who have been flexibly furloughed, for example by working only part of their normal working hours, and where the employer still does have work for them but not the same number of hours compared to before the pandemic, then the employer may wish to negotiate a change to contracted hours.
Noele said: “Again, the employer should take care that this does not just include those employees who were placed on flexible furlough and a wider consultation should take place with all those doing the same role for example to see if others were prepared to take a cut in hours so it is shared more proportionately across employees.”
Employees are entitled to be taken through a fair process, and individuals should ensure that they are not disadvantaged because they have been furloughed.