North West businesses still confused over furlough process warns Clough & Willis

Date: 26/05/2020
Author: Clough & Willis
Company: Clough & Willis

According to Bury and Bolton law firm Clough & Willis many businesses in the North West are still confused over the furlough process despite it being introduced by the government over two months ago and it being extended until October.

The findings came after the firm received extensive feedback from companies in the region which access Employers Advantage – its employment law and HR service – and from the increasing number of enquiries from other employers which have contacted the team for advice. 

The issues now causing the most concern are around how the extension to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will work in practice – especially the recent announcement that there will be greater flexibility to allow some workers to return part-time initially; and whether workers can use, or should be made to use, their holiday entitlements whilst furloughed.

Businesses are also worried about the lack of clear and concise guidance around what health and safety measures need to be put in place once employees do start to return to work; whilst distressed companies fear that that once the furlough scheme ends they will need to make redundancies and are seeking advice  on redundancy planning and procedure which if handled incorrectly could lead to a surge in tribunal claims.

Chris Macwilliam (pictured) , partner and head of the employment team at Clough & Willis, said: “There’s no doubt the launch of the CJRS has helped millions of people, and its recent extension was almost universally welcomed. However, the government must act quickly and give firms clarity on a number of the core issues that our research has highlighted.

Chris added: Business have been battered and what they need now is the detail so they can effectively plan their strategies for the next six to 12 months. I’m sure we’ll see an increase in redundancies and job losses over the coming year which will be sad, but the government must do more to work with industry if we want to keep those numbers to a minimum.

Chris concluded: A continued lack of practical information will drive even more uncertainty and that’s a damaging combination, so I would urge the government to listen to the genuine concerns of business owners and give them the reassurance and clarity they so desperately need.”