Experts in employment law, Slater Heelis Solicitors, says as many as 169,268 North West-based furloughed employees could be facing redundancy as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) winds down.

The scheme, first introduced by the Chancellor in March to protect jobs during the lockdown, has so far been used to save 384,700 jobs in the Greater Manchester region, with almost one in three employees put on the scheme by their employers.

However, research suggests more than two fifths (44%) of organisations will have to make some or all of their furloughed staff redundant when the scheme comes to an end, meaning 169,268 employees are at risk of losing their jobs in the region.

Slater Heelis has seen an influx of 50% in employment law enquiries, as employers navigate the new flexible furlough scheme which allows employers to bring back their workers part-time while lockdown restrictions are eased.

“As employer contributions to the furlough scheme increase, ahead of it ending on 31 October, more businesses will be considering the future of their workforce and whether they need to restructure based on anticipated activity levels. It is a reality that a considerable proportion of those currently not working will not be returning to their roles as a result.

Research and reports from employers are mixed, with some sectors struggling to operate under distancing guidelines and local lockdown guidelines, while other businesses have experienced an influx of demand due to changing needs. Those sectors that have been hit harder than others, such as hospitality and travel, are still subject to strict measures, while far fewer office-based employees than anticipated have returned to the workplace to date.”

(Sarah Calderwood, Partner in Employment Law at Slater Heelis)

Clarification from the Government on using the CJRS scheme for paying employees’ notice periods also means many will consider this route to reduce the cost of restructuring. Senior employees that have been with a business for a number of years may also be presented with a settlement offer. These can be complex, despite coming with financial gain, and legal advice is recommended before signing, as an employee’s rights may be lessened on the agreement of the deal.

CJRS has been used by 1.1 million employers to protect 9.1 million jobs, with the total value of claims made so far-reaching almost £21 billion, according to HMRC.

Slater Heelis continues to operate during the current Covid-19 pandemic and is continuing to work remotely through the current lockdown measures. To contact them about any matter of employment law click here.


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