The Ending Of Furlough – What The Future Holds For The Workplace

Soon after the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, employers were faced with a brand new concept in the world of employment, ‘furlough’. The brand new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) known as furlough, has supported over 1 million employers since it was introduced and is now due to end on 30 September 2021.

As the UK relaxes social distancing measures and there is no suggestion that the scheme will be extended further, we consider what this means for employers and those returning to the workplace.

Tapering out of furlough pay

Those continuing to rely on the scheme must budget for the reduced financial support with their payroll, as full responsibility for the normal pay of their workforce is promptly phased back in.

Subject to a set monthly cap, the government continued to fund 80% of wage costs until the end of June and from July they funded 70% of pay and required employers to pay 10% of the hours not worked by their employees.

The beginning of August saw the contribution from employers increase further to 20%, with the government’s funding reducing to 60%. This contribution will continue into September until the scheme ends on 30 September 2021.

‘Un-furloughing’

The act of ‘un-furloughing’ has never been used in the UK prior to COVID-19, so there was no pre- precedence around how to administer it. However, we do know that we have certain legal obligations stipulating how we should treat our employees, and this should guide us in how we manage bringing employees back.

Businesses must act in accordance with existing employment legislation, whether it is the Equality Act 2010 which protects people from discrimination, or the Employment Rights Act 1996 which protects wages and people from being unfairly or constructively dismissed.

Determining an ‘un-furlough’ strategy upfront will help to ensure it is carried out fairly and objectively. It will also mean you have a documented thought process to evidence this approach should it ever be challenged.

Flexible furlough

Although there is limited time left to take advantage of the scheme, employers may wish to acclimatise by using the option to flexibly furlough employees to help in their return to work. You can decide the hours and shift patterns that your employees will work on their return so long as you pay them in full for any hours they are working.

Redundancies

Employers who are having to contemplate redundancies need to be aware of the timescales for consulting and how these align alongside the furlough scheme. The timescales for consultation are:

  • 45 days of consultation before the first dismissal, if you have 100 or more employees that you propose to dismiss as redundant within a 90-day period.
  • 30 days of consultation before the first dismissal, if you have 20 or more but less than 100 employees that you propose to dismiss as redundant.
  • If you have less than 20 employees that you propose to dismiss as redundant, there is a need for ‘meaningful’ consultation, which should take place over an appropriate time frame.

This means that organisations who need to go through this process in time for the end of the furlough scheme, need to be reviewing their circumstances, drafting a business case justifying the potential need for redundancy dismissals, and devising a schedule for the process now, so that they are ready to announce the start of consultation in good time.

Businesses always need to consider appropriate ways in which they can avoid or mitigate redundancies. Many employers utilise lay-off or short-time working clauses in the employment contract as a temporary alternative. Whether wanting to invoke lay-off or redundancy, HR advice should be sought to ensure that the process is legally fair.

Workplace Adaptions

Although most restrictions are no longer in force, businesses are still strongly encouraged to continue to operate in a COVID-secure manner and follow the advice as it evolves. Moreover, employers must ensure that both they and their employees continue to comply with health and safety legislation, and as such managing the risks of coronavirus must continue to be part of your on-going workplace risk assessments.

It is important that all staff are aware of the risks and what their employer is doing to keep them safe whilst at work.  It will also help alleviate any nervousness that may exist in returning to the workplace.

Promoting a good safety culture increases productivity, performance, and workplace morale.  Consider involving staff when undertaking risk assessment reviews so they feel part of the process but also to help them have a better understanding of COVID-19 in the workplace and how the risk of transmission can be reduced by the measures you take.  Also consider a safety committee made up of different people from different teams so that all knowledge can be shared, and all risk assessments completed and reviewed.

At this time, it would be best practice to review all risk assessments where many staff have not been at work and you are considering bringing them back. There would be no better time in completing this exercise and to have the confidence in knowing that all practices and procedures have been reviewed and are in the best shape to welcome teams back safely.

A Plan For Jobs

Looking ahead to the future, A Plan for Jobs is a government scheme which aims to support young people, who are believed to be the most vulnerable group for employment as a result of the pandemic by providing employment opportunities which should also support the UK with both short and long-term recovery.

Employers may be able to make use of initiatives under these schemes as they rebuild their business and workforce, including the Kickstart Scheme which gives employers a grant to create jobs, apprenticeships with the increased incentives for hiring apprentices available until 30 September and lastly traineeships which provides employers with £1,000 for providing work experience per trainee.

 

We hope this has outlined to you what the future of the workplace will look like once furlough ends. If you require any more information on any of the government COVID-19 schemes, loans or grants, or anything accounting related for that matter, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us at Nordens where one of our trusted advisors would be happy talking you through your query.

 

About the author

Karen Falconer is a HR Knowledge Manager at HR Solutions, an outsourced HR services firm offering employment law, and health and safety support and advice to businesses across the UK.

 
Beyond Accountancy

At Nordens, we're more than just accountants - we're business experts who can help you achieve your biggest goals.

Nordens Strategic

Our specialist strategic division at Nordens boasts some of the leading entrepreneurial business minds in the country. We cater towards delivering consistent success stories, whilst helping businesses achieve above and beyond their initial goals.

Through highly-tailored guidance, coaching and advice, Nordens Strategic are able to define exactly how your business can reach new levels of success.

Regardless of how you define ‘success’ for your business, our strategic service is guaranteed to bring about real and lasting change. By partnering with some of the UK’s top business coaches, we’ll steer you along the path to a greater future.

Accounting 2 You

Every business, no matter how big or small, needs to make the right decisions, and how to best manage your accounts can put huge question marks over your business. Accounting2You is here to take that pressure off and provide you with all the answers you need.

Our bookkeeping branch offers a fully inclusive, comprehensive service that you can trust. Since 2005, our specialist bookkeepers have been successfully managing the accounting of both individuals and small businesses.

With experts in payroll analysis, credit control and financial recording, Accounting2You will lead your business efficiently, and with real purpose, towards a prosperous future.

Voted as EXCELLENT - 9.9 out of 10 based on 167 reviews

<
Chris Dyer

Director - Metro Bank

Nordens are always very easy to deal with and extremely professional and efficient. I would have no hesitation in recommending them to my clients for their accountancy needs, no matter how complex they may be.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Jamie Brown

Co-Founder - Chicmi Limited

Very good to work with - the team go above and beyond to make the accounts easy and efficient. They're all super friendly and a joy to work with.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Simon Rose

Director - Rose Opticians

I have been using Nordens Chartered Accountants for 5 years and very happy with the service provided. All members of the team are very knowledgeable and have a wealth of experience which has proved very beneficial to my organisation

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Rebecca Bossick

Founder & Director - Physio LDN

Very easy to contact and put me in touch with the right person whenever I need to ask any questions. Extremely knowledgeable and can help me manage my various businesses whenever I need.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

James Aconley

Principal - Pauline Quirke Academy

Great accountants, always available to offer advice. The team have transformed my business.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Christopher Wilce

Founder - Dataphone

Having worked with Nordens over the last 5 years, not only to look after my annual accounts but they have also provided outstanding professional advice. They have guided me through a Company share buyback with clear and objective advice. We have also been using Nordens strategic services for a couple of years, which has helped bring about significant improvements that exceeded my expectations. With experience of working with several local accountants over my 29 years in business, I’m very pleased with the service I have received from Nordens.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Dave Hodges

Director - Linekers

Trusted our business with Nordens for over 10 years now and watched the company grow into the successful innovative business it has become today. Deservedly so. Every aspect of financial advice we need is always given promptly and with a smile. We have total confidence in all aspects of advice Nordens give. If you are looking for accountants, its a no brainer!

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Tony Charles

Founder - Foundation Sports Limited

A fantastic, modern, vibrant firm that care about the clients and their staff in abundance. It is rare to find an Accountancy firm with such vibrance and focus and relationships. It is no wonder they win award after award in their field.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Peter Horlock

Managing Director - Prime Time Boilers

I have been with Nordens for many years now and they are a great accountants.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Simon Cushing

Founder - Vivid Finishes

We have used Nordens for the last 5 years and have had a great service throughout. The guys are very passionate about what they do and have played a part in the growth of our company, highly recommended.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

Andrew Martin

Managing Director - AMD Interior Architecture

Great Service at Nordens from a friendly very approachable team Particularly Kirsty Willis and Joe Sword who have been helping us since we started the business in 2016.

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

James Robinson

Director - Forma London

Nordens provide a first class service. We moved to Nordens last year and have been impressed with the level of service provided. Keep up the good work!

Read more reviews on Trust Pilot

>
Latest News

We've always got our ears to the ground when it comes to interesting, useful and topical information relating to business and accountancy.

The Autumn 2021 Budget…
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, will be carrying out his red briefcase and laying out his Autumn Budget plans on Wednesday 27th October 2021. The Autumn Budget doesn’t usually attract massive attention, however du...
5 Reasons Why Your…
Much has been made regarding the rise of digitalisation in most sectors in the UK, however one thing which isn’t covered extensively is the benefits of hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA). VAs are essentially a service which provid...
Nordens TV

We love making videos that break down convoluted accountancy jargon into plain-talking, actionable and accessible facts.

Live Webinar – Time…
Watch our latest LIVE webinar titled ‘Time To Revive' that was held on Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 4pm GMT hosted by our CEO Mitch Hahn. Last year was tough for all of us. Now is the time to see what 2021 brings and how we c...
Our Christmas Message To…
Merry Christmas to all!   Here we have Mitch Hahn, CEO of Nordens Chartered Accountants delivering our Christmas message to you. Click the video link or read the full transcript below.   As we enter the ho...
  Why I Founded Nordens
Accounting 2 You

In November 2002, having sold our other business interests off earlier in the year, I decided to set up Nordens Chartered Accountants. The easy part was knowing how to do it, as I had established and built a smaller practice a few years earlier. The difficult part, for me, was not following the traditional accountancy path. Having run businesses, both successfully and unsuccessfully, I wanted to help business owners resolve their short term problems and work with them to achieve their longer term goals. Business has always been my interest and I love that I can help business owners achieve what seems like the impossible every single working day.

Mark Norden Signature

Mark Norden
Founder

We're Professionally Certified

Our limited company accountants have a range of qualifications from The Institute Of Chartered Accountants (ICAEW) to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). We worry about the bye-laws, regulations and ethical guidelines of the ACCA so you don’t have to! That makes us an ACCA-accredited employer as well as a Professional Passport-accredited one!