Ending of the furlough scheme
With the furlough scheme ending on 30th September and no indications that it is likely to be further extended, employers are planning a return to work for any staff who are still on furlough. If employers are unable to provide the same job for the employee to return to, then there are various options to discuss with the employee. These include a return on different terms, bringing the employment to an end through redundancy, or even a further period of unpaid leave.
Changing terms of employment
If an employer intends to change an employee’s terms and conditions, they need to consult with the employee, and must not unilaterally impose a change without agreement. Changing terms without agreement risks a tribunal claim. If an employee agrees to a change of reduced hours, then the employer must confirm that in writing or issue a new contract if it is a permanent change.
If an employer is considering a redundancy dismissal, they must go through a full redundancy procedure.
Unpaid leave or holiday
In consultation with the employee, another option is a further period of unpaid leave or holiday if they have any accrued and untaken. Any arrangement for unpaid leave should be recorded in writing.
Furlough cannot be used during a notice period; any notice pay would be paid at the employee’s normal rate and where appropriate the employee would be entitled to redundancy pay.
If the returning employee has been away from the yard for a significant length of time, it is important that Covid-secure measures that are in place are explained to them, and they are fully welcomed back into the yard.