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Furlough

We received the following advice from our HR expert and thought it would be good to share with you.

Employers need to:

  • Decide which employees to designate as furloughed employees.  If 20 or more are affected at one establishment collective consultation may be required.
  • Notify those employees of the intended change and commencement date.
  • Agree the change with the furloughed employees. Most employment contracts will not permit an employer to reduce an employee’s pay, provide them with no work, and change their employment status, without agreement. However, faced with the alternatives, which are likely to be unpaid leave, lay-off, or redundancy, the majority of affected employees are likely to agree to be placed on furlough leave.
  • Confirm the employees’ new status in writing. Ideally, the employer should advise how long it expects furlough leave to continue, however, this may be difficult in the current climate. Employers may wish to put employees on furlough leave for an initial period, subject to review.
  • Submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through the new online portal.
  • Ensure that the employees do not carry out any further work while they are furloughed.

Can an employee request their employer puts them onto furlough leave?

Yes, an employee can request this, but the employer does not have to agree. It is the employer’s decision which employees to place on furlough leave, if any. It seems that it is also the employer’s decision whether to place employees on furlough leave, or make them redundant. Potentially redundant employees do not have a right to require their employer to place them on furlough leave as an alternative to redundancy. However, it is hoped that many employers will see the new scheme as preferable to business closure and making redundancies. It is unclear whether refusing to place an employee on furlough leave and making them redundant could amount to an unfair dismissal.  Much remains to be clarified in the coming weeks and days.