Eight weeks ago, could any of us have foreseen that over a third of the world’s population would be told to stay at home?

We are seeing green shoots of hope that this terrible pandemic and its consequential death toll is waning, at least in our country. However, what follows is the reality of the economic consequences on businesses and jobs. 

Even though businesses can turn to Government-backed schemes, whether grants or loans, the impact has already unfolded. 

As a result, many employers are taking advantage of the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which enables employers to furlough their staff (by agreement with them). 

Employers were promised an operational scheme by the end of April and the Government delivered. However, the guidance was brought in at breakneck speed. As such, it has various problems. The Government is under a lot of pressure to solve them.

In fact, it has already amended its own guidance three times. 

We lawyers got very excited when the original Government guidance was contradicted later by the formal Treasury guidance, but it seems that the Government is honouring its earlier statements. 

The furlough scheme was implemented in an attempt to prevent mass redundancies, however, many employers are considering redundancies anyway. 

Initially, most employers will want to avoid job losses, but of course they are looking to the future and what their business will look like. The world will be very different after Covid-19, and they have to consider their costs – obviously, employees form a large part of the costs for many. 

The furlough scheme has now been extended from the end of May to the end of June. This may help, but no one knows what trade will be like when business is finally allowed to reopen. 

Businesses will be reassured to know how and when we will eventually be released from lockdown, but many will already have been taken difficult decisions by then.

What this means to you 

If you are furloughing your staff, you must be careful to comply with the requirements. You might have many employment questions at this time, and there are many that don’t yet have answers. 

However, our experts are here to help. 

We’re fully operational on a remote basis and have a dedicated employment law team. If you have been affected, just call – there is no charge for your initial query.

If you ring one of the numbers below and get our voicemail, please leave a message and we’ll call you right back.

(Our other expert in this area, Charlotte Powell-Jones, is about to go on maternity leave.)