The End of Furlough - Restructuring, Reorganisation and Redundancy

By Kevin Basnett, 26th January 2020

The Furlough Scheme (or, to give its full title the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) will end on 30th April 2021.

It has been extended several times, but this may truly be the end. This leaves us with a firm date to check how successfully we have managed our businesses, adapted or pivoted during the pandemic and most particularly do some hard analysis of what our business is going to look like going forward. 

We will all have experienced change in working practices and some of us will have pivoted our business immeasurably. Some will have effectively moved to a future way of working and some moved into new markets.

However, what are the implications for our staff and our staffing needs?

We will have found out which of our staff are resilient, which are adaptable, which can acquire new skills and have a positive attitude.  ‘You bring your attitude to work’. We’ll have found out some are dispensable. We’ll probably need to make some hard decisions on re-organisation, restructuring and redundancy but also recruitment. 

Many businesses find three of these four “Rs”, redundancy, reorganisation and restructuring, psychologically challenging. We don’t relish the perceived conflict or confrontation or the uncertainty of the end game.

However, the current economic and business instability may prove a positive watershed for any business that perhaps, previously may have prevaricated on these issues to take the initiative and take advantage of the ‘coronavirus catalyst’. Fortune favours the brave.

In some ways the pandemic has acted as a filter to work out who we value, who we don’t value, who is the future and who can help us as we move into the post Covid business world.

Unfortunately, the Furlough Scheme is now no longer available for redundancy notice periods and that stopped at the end of 2020 and so if you are considering redundancies then you will need to take the full hit in relation to notice (either worked or paid in lieu) and any redundancy payment. 

However, if you have not acted already now is the time to do it.  Brexit, (with gremlins), is over, infection numbers are coming down and vaccinations are going up. Unless the Government and SAGE are fundamentally wrong in their assessment that vaccination is the way out of the current pandemic then this is our time as employers when we should start preparing for what hopefully should be an upturn in our markets.

Many of us will be familiar with redundancies. They are relatively straightforward. Identify those at risk, consult properly, and terminate with the appropriate notice and package.

But what about restructuring and reorganisation?

Where you have people you value and you want them to perform other roles or work in different ways or in different Departments?  The employment legislation provides for this as long as you consult well against a clear and understandable business case. If you make appropriate offers in alternative roles and those roles are not accepted, then you can lawfully terminate employment. Strictly speaking as this type of dismissal is for ‘some other substantial reason’ (as it is known in the legislation), you do not even have to pay a redundancy payment. Most companies do because it makes them feel comfortable, especially if you are terminating the employment of someone you value.

What next?

The key to all this (including redundancy) is a clear business case and good, genuine and documented consultation.

If you have a clear vision of what your business looks like and how you need to resource it going forward, now is the time to act, get your ducks lined up and start moving.

For further advice for you and your individual circumstances, don't hesitate to get in touch by emailing employment@goughs.co.uk.