Please note: The information contained in this article is correct as of 23/08/21. Due to the ongoing nature of the coronavirus pandemic, guidance is subject to change and, as such, we would always advice you speak with a solicitor for specific advice.
Have you been consulted by your employer about your furlough leave ending? Do you know what happens next?
Have you been on furlough for a significant period? Do you feel your employer has forgotten about you?
Did you agree to furlough leave and furlough pay or did you feel forced to agree?
Has your employer been in regular contact or have you been left feeling isolated and worried about your employment?
Are you your worried about redundancy?
Furlough finally ends in the next few weeks on 30th September 2021 and we have received a significant number of enquiries from employees in recent weeks and months; which are notably having a common theme; “the forgotten employee.”
Frequent employee complaints to our HR & Employment law team have included:
Employees being on furlough for a significant period of time; which in itself has created uncertainty anxiety about future job security;
None or very limited contact from the employer;
Employees unclear if they will return to work or be made redundant;
Employees felt previously forcibly furloughed;
Employees felt forced to accept reduced “furlough” pay;
Employers confused about furlough, lay-off, short-time working and redundancy; which are all completely different and have different procedures and entitlements for employees;
Employees have been prejudiced with performance targets and bonuses due to the impact of furlough leave; and
Employees flexi-furloughed being unable to realistically carry out their role in the reduced time period and either being expected to work during furlough time or worrying about the impact on their own work performance and standards.
Employers firstly have a duty of care to each and every employee. It is irrelevant that an employee has not been actively working in the business because of furlough. An employer is required by law to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees. Employers must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this.
Employers cannot impose furlough leave and reduced “furlough” pay. Unless you expressly agreed to this for example by way of your written contract of employment; an employer must have consulted with you to agree this temporary change to your employment status and pay and obtain your consent. If this did not happen you might have an Employment Tribunal claim for breach of contract and/or unlawful deduction of wages and be entitled to repayment of salary.
Employees might also have a claim for unfair or constructive unfair dismissal and be entitled to compensation as a result of unfair and unlawful treatment by an employer.
It is important you understand your correct employment “status;” whether this be furloughed; laid off; at risk of redundancy etc. If you have been laid off for a particular period; you may be automatically entitled to a statutory redundancy payment and there are specific processes and timescales to follow to register your entitlement.
Employers should consult with an employee about the change from furlough or flexi-furlough status to a return to work /the previous employment status and any changes that may now be necessary due to business needs and economic changes. If there is a restructure and redundancy risk; employees have specific legal rights and entitlements.
If you are an employee in a dispute with your employer; or if you have any concerns and wish to at this stage simply understand your position and have legal advice “behind the scenes” so that you are prepared; should you need to be, we can help you.
At our consultations; we will advise you on your legal position; your options, recommend next steps and answer any specific questions you have. If you feel you could face redundancy we can advise you on your entitlements and if a Settlement Agreement has been mentioned to you; we can advise you on the terms and effect of this.
Farleys specialise in all areas of HR and employment law for all levels of employees.
If you require advice and assistance in relation to furlough leave, furlough pay, compulsory or voluntary redundancy; re-structures and re-organisations; variation of employment contracts; home working; settlement agreements and termination / severance packages, please contact Farleys Employment Law & HR team on 0845 287 0939 or submit your enquiry through our online contact form.