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Preparing for the new normal – Furlough, Collective Consultation and Redundancy

Furlough Covid-19

Thursday, April 30, 2020

The Government’s job retention scheme is due to end on 30 June 2020. 

Employees can be subject to notice whilst on furlough.  In previous postings, I have indicated they are probably entitled to full pay, albeit there is a counter-argument, with the employer recouping furlough monies from HMRC.

If 30 June 2020 marks the end date, then if 100 or more employees are at risk, 45 days minimum consultation is required.  That means the start date is 15 May 2020.  If 20 or more employees are at risk then it is 30 days with a start date of 31 May 2020.

It will be hugely helpful if the Government could adapt furlough from its current all or nothing position to one which allows tapering or phased return to work.  That may well protect hundreds of thousands of jobs as employers attempt to permit people to return on a phased basis.

Failing that, we have to face up to collective consultation, probably remotely.  We then need to look at selection criteria, bearing in mind that some people at work will do the same role as some people on furlough and therefore need to fall into the same selection pool.

The employer will need to consider suitable alternative employment.  Indeed any alternative employment perhaps offering a phased return to work without Government support if none is forthcoming.

Finally, we all need to consider the new normal.  What does it look like and are the current contracts of employment fit for that new purpose?  If not, employers may well consider dismissing the entire workforce and offering re-engagement on the new contract.  Potentially that is fair under SOSR provisions.

There is much to ponder over the next two weeks.

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