Furlough scheme comes to a close: 30 September 2021
Current Furlough position
As has been planned for some time, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is due to end on 30 September 2021. Whilst the CJRS was due to come to a close originally back in April 2021, this was further extended to deal with the after-effects of the pandemic and to keep people in employment whilst the economy picked up. The CJRS has now been fully operational for a period of 18 months which was initially only planned to be implemented for a period of three months. It is important to note for a date in your diary that claims for furlough days in September 2021, payments must be made by 14 October 2021 and any amendments thereafter must be made by 28 October 2021.
Employers will likely be in the process of preparing employees to come back to work, or alternatively, ensuring implementation of a consultation process for redundancies which will be a sad reality for many employees and businesses. The most affected sectors include including leisure, non-essential retail and hospitality to name a few. If employers are thinking of bringing back their employees into the business, they should be exploring whether this will be on the same or materially different terms before employees were put on furlough leave.
What are my options as an employer?
It is very much a case of trying to establish a balancing act between the various options employers will have available to them as each individual’s circumstances will differ. It is important to ensure that all health & safety related concerns have been addressed and a clear strategy and return to work plan has been put in place.
Factors employers should consider are whether certain roles are needed in the business, considering the demand and need for the type of work to be fulfilled at that time. There may also be the option available to employers to bring staff back into the workplace on a part time basis until work picks back up again.
However, the question remains what do employers do if workloads have not picked up after the end of the CJRS on 30 September 2021? By looking at opportunities such as redeployment this may reduce the number of staff that you may otherwise have considered for redundancy. This would involve, however, obtaining the agreement of each individual affected by any changes so as to avoid any legal implications, but the role does not necessarily have to be similar to the employee’s original job role.
Employers should already be well on their way to considering whether redundancies are an appropriate option for the business and consider the lengths of time they will need to carry out a full consultation process with employees. However, we suspect most employers will be looking to save employees jobs where they can by considering options such as redeployment, reduction in hours, flexible working models and career break/sabbatical leave.
Caution however needs to be exercised in how employers approach the above options. There has been a significant spike in Employment Tribunal claims since furlough started in the main relating to furlough, health and safety concerns and redundancies. Given the CJRS is coming to close this may give rise to future employment tribunal claims particularly unfair dismissal (e.g. redundancies) and discrimination (e.g. changing an employee’s job terms on the basis of a protected characteristic). All processes need to be conducted thoroughly and fairly.
If you need any further advice as an employer on the above issues, please do not hesitate to contact one of the team below.
- Please note – this guidance is not intended to be taken as legal advice – for individual situations you will need to take specific legal advice.
- The information in this guide is correct as of 24 September 2021.
Direct Dial: 0113 8874673
Director, Employment Solicitor and Mediator
Direct Dial 0113 8874670
Reception: 0113 3229222
Address: 4 Park Place, Leeds LS1 2RU
Direct Dial: 01138874673
Direct Dial: 0113 323 0346
Mobile: 07595 520 508