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Employment Law - Update - Covid-19 - Preparing to furlough!

Matters are moving so rapidly. As I put this note together the construction industry is coming under massive pressure to stop working and it is possible that by the time you read this it will have been told to stop (it is already the case in Scotland). This will make furlough leave crucial n the construction sector, but it is becoming increasingly important elsewhere too.

The Government has massive pressure on it, but it would be extremely helpful to know the details surrounding the scheme rather than just the headlines.

The Government is working very hard to get the portal through which one can reclaim through HMRC up and running and will reimburse claims going back through the month of March.

If a business can provide no work to an employee and knows that when the situation ends the employee will be needed, then getting agreement from the employee to go on immediate furlough leave seems to be the sensible solution for all concerned. For others it is more difficult. It may be a case of “war gaming” and looking at a number of different options and implementing as appropriate as soon as the detail is in place.

I set out a series of thoughts and questions in the previous publication on this subject. I am not aware of any answers yet. Businesses need to know whether they can use furlough leave for a relatively short period then re-engage and then apply it again – effectively using it to job share remaining work. It is also necessary to know precisely what conditions will be attached to payments. There also needs to be measures in place to support the many businesses where there is some work but it is diminishing and the ability to pay those working is lessening. There is going to be a big problem if employees perceive that they can get 80% of pay for doing nothing whereas other key workers might be required say only 50% of the time but the business cannot afford to pay them full pay.

Sorting this issue urgently alongside issues with the self-employed are crucial.

Nigel Tillott, Head of Employment and Regulatory Law ,DDI 01452 689100 


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