Having ended lockdown restrictions on 19 July 2021 the Government continued to reduce the level of support under its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (‘CJRS’). From 1 August 2021 employers who were still utilising the scheme had to increase their contributions from 10% to 20% with the Government’s contributions reducing from 70% to 60%. These contributions have now finished and the CJRS has ended.
Businesses who remain affected by the pandemic should have beeen planning for the end of the CJRS and the “new normal”.
There are a number of factors impacting the transport industry as a whole, not least the driver shortage, and the end of the CJRS may be a blow to some businesses that have not yet seen an increase to pre-Covid trading levels and so the question may come:-
What if an employer cannot afford to bring back its furloughed employees?
Your options from 1 October are:-
Reducing Employee Hours
This will be a substantial variation to an employee’s contract of employment and so you will need to agree any reduction or variation to hours and pattern of work with the individual. Employers looking to make these types of amendments should have been taking steps to engage in discussions with the employees rather than waiting until the end of the CJRS when most furlough agreements will automatically end.
Employers will also have to consider whether there are any collective consultation requirements which will depend on how many staff are affected by the proposed changes.
Redundancy is a potentially fair reason to dismiss. Any redundancy must be genuine and fair, ensuring the correct process is followed. Workers who have been on furlough have the same legal rights as any other employee and are therefore afforded protections against unfair dismissal, where a correct procedure is not followed or there is no genuine redundancy situation and also unlawful discrimination.
Employees who are dismissed on the grounds of redundancy and who have more than two years’ service are entitled to receive a statutory redundancy payment, notice pay and payment in respect of any accrued but untaken holiday pay. The Government has also introduced a new law which ensures that redundancy pay for furloughed employees is based on their normal wages and not their reduced furlough pay.
With the potential stresses and strains continuing to apply and the reduction in support under the CJRS businesses should be planning for the new normal and should not hesitate to contact our Employment Team on 01254 828300 if presented with a situation where you may need to vary your employees’s patterns or hours of work or consider making redundancies. We will also be running eTraining to assist with this on 13 October which you can book here, so if this is something you might be interested in attending, please email email@example.com to register your interest.