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These are unprecedented times and a lot of people and businesses have been affected by the virus.
The government has now announced a range of measures to support businesses during this uncertain time. One of these is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme; under this scheme all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of the salary for those employees who would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. All UK businesses are eligible and to apply for the scheme businesses must follow the steps outlined below.
First, they must designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation. Identifying employees as ‘furloughed workers’ means they will be kept on the payroll without working.
Once the new online portal is live, businesses must submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings (HMRC will set out further details on the information required).
People who get furloughed must not work for the employer during the period of furlough but usually return to their job afterwards.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation may lead to some businesses being forced to reduce the size of its workforce to survive (even with support measures like the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme).
The normal legal provisions apply which mean that employers are required to take steps to avoid compulsory redundancies.
Redundancy is a special form of dismissal which happens in three situations: when an employer has a reduction in the need for employees to carry out work of a particular kind, or the employer intends to cease, continuing the business at a particular workplace and the actual or intended closure of the whole business, as may occur in the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.
Employers will have to follow a correct fair procedure. This includes following the organisation's own procedure (if any) and the following stages including making a statutory redundancy payment, and a notice period payment.
The exact redundancy procedure varies but employers who feel that the coronavirus makes redundancies inevitable may already have started the planning stage including consultation and consideration of alternatives. The following stages are usually then involved: identifying the pool for selection; seeking volunteers; consulting employees individually and collectively; information to provide to the representatives; scoring matrix; selection; individual meetings; appeals; confirming redundancies; notification to the DTI; suitable alternative employment; time off for interviews. redundancy payment; counselling and support.
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