The number of workers on furlough has now hit the highest levels since June, The Times has recently reported.
The Job Retention Scheme or ‘furlough scheme’ was due to end on 31 October 2020, but Boris Johnson announced that it would be extended—only hours before the scheme was going to end. Chancellor Rishi Sunak later confirmed the furlough scheme would run until the end of March 2021.
While the extension of the Job Retention Scheme is great news for businesses across the UK, it’s also raised some questions for employers who had already made staff redundant in anticipation of the scheme coming to a close at the end of October, but who wouldn’t have if they’d known about the extension.
So can employers do anything if they’ve already made staff redundant? In a word, yes. But there are a few things to remember:
While you might want to ‘null and void’ the redundancy, bring an employee back and pick up where you left off, this is unfortunately not possible. You have to rehire the employee with a new contract, effectively starting ‘from scratch’, and can then place them on furlough with immediate effect.
New furlough reasons added
Previously you could only furlough an employee for business reasons, such as there not being enough work for all your staff. Now you can furlough an employee for reasons relating to health, such as they’re shielding or have caring responsibilities as a result of the pandemic.
No previous furlough required
It’s not just staff who have previously been on furlough who can be rehired and placed on the scheme—remember, you can put any of your staff on furlough for the first time, so long as they meet the eligibility criteria.
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