Furloughed Leave – Collective Consultation
The further government guidance on furloughed leave published on Thursday night makes specific reference to a possible requirement to collectively consult with employees being placed on furloughed leave. It states:
“If sufficient numbers of staff are involved, it may be necessary to engage collective consultation processes to procure agreement to changes to terms of employment.”
As the job retention scheme is an alternative to laying employees off without pay or making redundancies, it has so far been unclear whether employers should be consulting with employee representatives, where 20 or more staff are to be placed on furloughed leave due to the alternative being redundancy. Indeed legal opinions on this point have so far been conflicting, with some suggesting that, provided employees agree to furloughed leave (which the vast majority do), then consultation is unnecessary and claims are unlikely.
However, now that the government’s guidance makes specific reference to this, it increases the risk that employees could claim a protective award for failure to collectively consult where 20 or more dismissals were contemplated. This award could be up to 90 days gross pay per employee and employees do not need a minimum length of service to pursue this claim. Employers are also obliged to complete form HR1 to notify the state and failure to do so is a criminal offence. Many employers are however, despite the risks, taking a pragmatic view due to the need to place employees on Furloughed Leave quickly, with little or no collective consultation being carried out.
If you are to place more than 20 employees on Furloughed leave, please consult the team to explore in further detail the risks and how they can be minimised.
Coronavirus – Carrying over annual leave
The government has announced it is allowing workers to carry over up to four weeks annual leave into the next two leave years, where it is not reasonably practicable for them to take some, or all, of the holiday they are entitled to due to the coronavirus. This relates only to the 4 weeks leave under EU law and any additional leave entitlement will not be affected by this change.
Emergency Volunteer Leave
The Coronavirus Act 2020 introduces a new statutory right for workers to take emergency volunteer leave to help support essential health and social care services.
The emergency leave will work as follows:
For further information contact our Employment Team, or call 0191 232 8345.