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Potential Redundancy and How to cope with Furloughed Staff

View profile for Susan Mayall
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As the headlines state we’re heading towards recession and this autumn it’s going to be a tough time for employers, many of whom will be faced with hard hitting decisions about staffing levels once furlough ceases.

These are unprecedented times of course but good employment practices must still be adhered to and normal employment rules, policies and laws apply.

Employment Law Advice

“Most employers that come to Pearson Solicitors for employment law advice on the redundancy process do so with a heavy heart, no business owner welcomes getting rid of a workforce but it’s essential during these exceptional times that they make sure they get the consultation process right to avoid claims of unfair dismissal and minimise future claims,” said Susan Mayall, Head of Employment Law for Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers.

“Business owners who have to let staff go need to make sure they minimise their legal risks and follow the correct consultation process.  If they have staff off on furlough, maternity leave or on sick-leave it has to be above board and within all employment guidelines - coronavirus is no excuse,” warned Susan.

Of course whilst the furlough scheme is available there could be a case for unfair dismissal if redundancies are implemented – the scheme was set up to hopefully prevent such job losses and although this has not been tested yet as I said we are operating in unprecedented times.

“There may also be worries from staff that those furloughed will be first in line for redundancy and it should be stated that this is not the case – an employee who was for example furloughed by agreement for childcare issues may have a claim in the future if discriminated against.”

Furlough and Redundancy

  • Employees redundancy rights are maintained if they are on furlough
  • Employees can be made redundant whilst on furlough
  • Employees can be reinstated from furlough but then made redundant
  • Redundancy pay is unaffected by furlough leave, it should be calculated by reference to the employee’s normal wages
  • Give employees the chance to look at any relevant documents and prepare their response in advance if a meeting is to be arranged
  • Consultation is the key
  • Give redundant staff time off to search for alternative employment or training
  • Make sure staff are not unfairly selected
  • Try and find alternative employment

“Communication is essential during the process,” said Susan.  “Furloughed staff need to be informed just as other staff would be so it’s always best to stick to any pre-arranged forms of communication without of course breaking furlough.  Teams, Zoom, personal emails, text messages, a phone call and even good old fashioned letters are the best ways employers can stay in touch with staff and let them know of the redundancy issues.”

For advice on furlough, redundancy or any other employment law issues contact Susan.mayall@pearsonlegal.co.uk or call 0161 785 3500 to speak to a member of our Employment Team at Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.