Posted On / 05.10.2020

The end of Furlough - so what now?

As employers will know, the current Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will end on 31 October 2020. Many employers have had to consider whether they can continue to retain staff after furlough or if they need to make changes or redundancies due to the impact of the pandemic.

Whilst this year has been “different” (to say the least) what remains the same are the employment law basics – including the requirement for fair and proper process and reasonable decisions by an employer.

If redundancies are envisaged, or changes to contract terms required (including hours, salary, duties etc.) proper, meaningful consultation with staff is a must.   This begins with demonstrating the business need for the changes/reductions and having individual, and sometimes collective, consultation with employees. 

If the business is able to continue to employ those who have been furloughed until 1 February 2021 they can potentially claim a Retention Bonus of £1,000 per employee.  The employee must have earnt an average of £520 per month between 1 November 2020 and 31 January 2021 and must not be under notice.  

On 24 September, the Chancellor announced further support for employers in the form of the Job Support Scheme.  The scheme aims to support “viable” jobs from 1 November 2020.  Employees must work at least 33% of their normal hours.  Of the remaining hours, the government will contribute a third of their salary (up to £697.92), the Employer pays a third and the Employee accepts a reduction of a third.  As with the job retention scheme, the employer and employee have to agree to this change and that agreement must be confirmed in writing and be available to HMRC on request.

The Job Support Scheme is available for all employees, not just those who were previously furloughed.  However, an employee cannot be made redundant or be under notice of redundancy whilst their employer is claiming it.  A factsheet is available at www.gov.uk with further guidance to be published in due course. 

It’s clear the situation the world finds itself in is not going to change in the immediate future and it will continue to impact employers and employees.

For more information or advice on the above or any other employment & HR matters, please contact a member of Battens Employment TeamDawn Gallie dawn.gallie@battens.co.uk  01935 846233 or Katy Ponsford katy.ponsford@battens.co.uk 01935 846272.