‘Furlough leave’ is a new concept to the United Kingdom, introduced through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Employers were encouraged to take advantage of this scheme as an alternative to making employees redundant. When furloughed, an employee does not complete work for their employer – but remains employed by them, while the employer claims 80% of the employee’s wages from the Government.
However, the speed at which the pandemic progressed and these measures have been introduced has left many people confused about their rights. In particular, we’ve heard from many employees who want to know whether they can be made redundant whilst placed on furlough leave (which was intended to prevent redundancies).
Can I be made redundant while on furlough leave?
In short, yes. The current Government guidance is that furloughed employees can be made redundant, either during furlough leave or at the end of it. This means that you could serve your notice while still on furlough leave.
However, even on furlough leave you are an employee and, therefore, still have the same protection in employment law. This means you are still entitled to consultation (although in the current climate, this may be over the phone or on a video call rather than face-to-face), a notice period or payment in lieu and your employer must follow a fair selection process. Find out more about your rights here.
If you’ve been with your employer for two years or longer and feel they have not followed the correct process, then you may be able to claim for unfair dismissal. Don’t forget, the time you’ve been furloughed is included within your length of service to your employer.
Additionally, if your employer makes 20 or more employees redundant at the same time, furloughed or not, and does not follow the correct procedure (including consulting with elected representatives of the workforce) you may also be entitled to claim a protective award. You do not need two years service to pursue such a claim.
If you are a furloughed employee facing redundancy and need advice on your rights or feel your employer has acted unlawfully, our employment team is here to help. With decades of experience, we understand how difficult facing redundancy can be and our expert team can guide you through to ensure you’re treated fairly. Get in touch today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.