With the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ending on 31 October, I thought it would be useful to outline some options you have if your business continues to feel the effect of the virus.

  1. Job Support Scheme – On 24 September, the Chancellor announced that a Job Support Scheme would be introduced to support businesses. To be eligible an employee must be in work for a minimum of one-third of their contracted hours. Under the scheme, the hours actually worked plus one-third of those not worked would be paid by your business.  The government will also pay one-third of unworked hours and the employee is not paid at all for the remaining one-third of unworked hours.  
  2. Although this is not as advantageous as previous schemes, the scheme could allow you to retain key staff when you can see that the situation may resolve in the short to medium term.Reduced Working Hours – you can mutually agree with any member of staff at any time that they reduce their contracted hours.  Some employees may be happy to do this for longer-term security whilst for others this may be a complete non-starter.
  3. Additionally, some contracts include within them a clause that allows you to unilaterally reduce a member of staff’s working hours.  Whilst this may seem attractive you need to consider the length of time that you do this for, the impact on the longer-term employment relationship, and any other associated clauses that may apply in the employee’s contract. Done correctly though this can work really well to manage through a relatively short-term crisis.
  4. Redundancy – probably the least attractive option but something that more and more businesses are having to consider.  If this is something you are considering you must remember that you still need to make sure that the correct formalities are followed such as allowing for time to consult and that the correct notice period is applied to ensure you consider these now and don’t wait until all other financial support stops.

The choices you make will depend on lots of factors relating specifically to your business so it is advisable to take advice in terms of what you can legally do under your current contracts and policies and the practical steps you need to take for any of these actions.  Please remember that an Employment Tribunal will not accept Coronavirus as a reason for not following employment legislation!

Alison Brophy, KLAS HR Ltd. Email alison.brophy@klashr.co.uk. Tel 07835 964699