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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 67956
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I have an employment law question partially related to

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Hi there, I have an employment law question partially related to government's furloughing rule since Corona. I was laid off in early March from my job towards the end of my probation period. This was not related to Corona, but I understand that employees we were laid off or left their job at this time are also potentially eligible for furloughed pay (80% of pay cheque) at the discretion of the employer, due to other companies not taking on staff. My question then, if I put it in writing that I DO NOT wish or expect to be on the payroll after the goverment's furloughing's period ends, does that protect the employer from having to do so? To be clear, they do not wish to re-employ beyond such a time, and I wish to respect that. Thanks

Hello, I’m Ben, a UK lawyer and will be dealing with your case today. I may also need to ask some questions to determine the legal position.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.

Is it possible to upload a copy of your contract on here please?

You can do this using the paper clip symbol

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I've only got hard copy as they shut down my email account, bear with me, I will scan and attach
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
That's both parts of the contract as below, hopefully you can read them ok
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
To be clear they have provisionally said verbally they would see no issue with furloughing me, because they recognise the job market is dead right now. Just as long as they weren't then obliged to retain me afterwards, which, as I say, I am happy to put in writing

Thank you. In all honesty they can take that decision anyway as long as by the time it is time to take it, you have been employed there for less than 2 years. That is because you have no unfair dismissal protection in the first 2 years of employment. So they could dismiss you for more or less any reason and without having to justify their decision. No agreement would be needed for them to do so and they can just go ahead with it. I very much doubt that the current situation will continue until you are approaching your 2 year anniversary so they could proceed with terminating you at any time before that, even if you have been furloughed in the meantime.

Does this answer your query?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Thank you. So to summarize: my employer can furlough me with no obligation to retain me beyond that point. If I have missed anything here please can you summarize it correctly. Cheers
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
we could agree upfront that the working period ends there with no need for a notice period afterwards, I presume

They can furlough you now and the dismiss you afterward if they wanted to, even without an agreement. You are due at least a week’s notice on termination by law, they cannot ignore that even if you agree to it. However, if you get a contractual notice period that is longer than that you can agree to remove it so at least their obligation is just a week.

Does this clarify things a bit more for you?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
It does clarify yes; so is there way we could agree a contractual notice period that is the same length of my furlough. i.e. until mid June (goverment said 3 months in mid march). I am trying to make it as easy as possible for my former employers to re-employ me without them having to be obliged beyond that. They want to help, but don't wany me on the books after the furlough period. So if you can let me know how we do that, that would be great
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
If I wrote them something that says, for example, "in the event of my being furloughed, I will not be available to come into work at any time in May, June or beyond, or do not expect to be employed beyond my furlough period". Does that work?
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I should also add that I'm also still within my notice period (April 11th) so perhaps that could be extended to the end of official government furlough period?

Easiest is if there is no contractual notice period at all, in which case they have no obligations apart from the minimum 1 week statutory notice period they must give you on termination.

I would advise trying to second guess the length of furlough as things can change at any point, we all know how unpredictable this has all been.

You can extend the notice period between yourselves as and when you see fit, so can keep extending it further until you both decide you no longer want to and then your employment terminates at the end of it

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Hi Ben. Thanks for this.
OK so if the company are happy to furlough me, they could then opt to give me a week's notice (rather than the month in the contract) once we know that the end of the of the furlough period is in sight. That way they wouldn't have to keep me for any time beyond that, is that correct?

yes that is correct

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