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VIDEO EXPLAINER: Alternatives to redundancy – how to flex your workforce after furlough

This free Getting back to business webinar was held on Wednesday 6th May. On this video, employment partner Paul Scope and associate Flora Mewies looked at your options if you need to flex your employee resource or reduce cost without reducing headcount. This may apply across the business or to particular functions. They discussed a range of options when the furlough scheme comes to an end, including: lay off, short time working, reduced hours, reduced pay and other ways to be flexible.

They also discussed the pros and cons of each option, and cover what you will need to undertake with each of these routes.

Related FAQs

How do I guard against contractor insolvency in the construction industry?

It is almost impossible to completely guard against the risks associated with contractor insolvency, but there are some steps which can assist in mitigating and managing the risks involved.   To be in the best possible position, it is worth considering the following at the outset of any project:

  • Check the contractor’s financial position – particularly the specific company which will enter into the building contract, as the employer’s rights will be against this company rather than the business as a whole
  • Take legal advice to ensure that the building contract is properly drafted with appropriate provisions to deal with an insolvency event
  • Consider requiring a performance bond and/or parent company guarantee (each serve slightly different purposes)
  • Obtain collateral warranties from the consultants and sub-contractors involved, so that there are contractual rights against other parties if the contractor is no longer able to meet claims
  • Consider requiring retention bonds, advance payment bonds or vesting certificates if necessary
  • Project bank accounts and escrow accounts can also provide some further assurances for the parties involved
If an employee has had a coronavirus test, can we require them to disclose evidence of their test results?

Obtaining an employee’s Covid-19 test result will amount to processing personal data for the purposes of the General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 (GDPR) and information about an employee’s health is a special category of data (sensitive personal data under the Data Processing Act 2018 (DPA)).

In accordance with the GDPR and DPA, there must be lawful grounds for processing such information. Most employers rely on employees’ consent to obtain medical information and process sensitive personal data and if the employee is unwilling to give consent, you will not normally be entitled to the information.

Special category data can be processed lawfully if it is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the data controller. Employers may be able to require an employee to disclose their Covid-19 test if there is a substantial public interest, such as ensuring that the employee self-isolate if they have a positive test. However, there is a risk that this measure could be considered disproportionate particularly if it is enforced on all employees as a blanket measure.

What are the standard holiday rules?

Under usual rules, workers are entitled to a minimum of 28 days holiday including bank holidays, each year. Except in limited circumstances, it cannot be carried between leave years meaning that workers lose their holiday if they do not take it.

The government passed emergency legislation relaxing the carry-over of the 20 days leave entitlement provided under EU law. Where it is not reasonably practicable for an employee to take leave in the relevant leave year as a result of the effects of the coronavirus then they could be entitled to carry over the untaken leave into the next year.

What if I have missed the January deadline for submitting my 2018/2019 tax return?

You had until 23 April 2020 to submit your return in order to be considered for eligibility.

How has the law changed?

In part in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, legislation was passed by the government earlier this year which sought to assist companies to trade through the current economic climate. Included within the measures is a degree of protection from compulsory winding up.

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (The Act), was laid before parliament on 20 May, and became law on 26 June. It is important creditors are aware of what changes have been implemented and the potential and impact which it may have upon debt recovery action you may be considering or have already commenced.

The main part of the Act affecting creditors is the temporary restriction on presentation of winding up petitions and the factors that the Court has to take into account when deciding whether to wind up a company.

On Thursday 24 September 2020 the government passed a further statutory instrument which extended the operation of these restrictions. As a result, the measures which were due to expire on Wednesday 30 September 2020 have now been extended until 31 December 2020.

A key point to note is that the Act has retrospective effect so any pending petitions presented after 27 April will be affected, along with any winding up orders made after that date.

The Act has introduced the following restrictions:

  • A petition cannot be presented by a creditor during the period of 27 April 2020 and 31 December 2020 unless the creditor has reasonable grounds to believe that (a) coronavirus has not had a financial effect on the debtor, or (b) the debtor would have been unable to pay its debts even if coronavirus had not had a financial effect on the debtor;
  • A petition cannot be presented after 27 April 2020 if it is based on a unsatisfied statutory demand served between 1 March 2020 until 31 December 2020;
  • When deciding whether to make a winding up order the Court will need to be satisfied that the grounds giving rise to the petition would have arisen even if Covid-19 did not have a financial effect on the debtor;
  • All winding up orders made between the 27 April and 31 December will automatically be void (that is, of no legal effect) unless the Court would have made the winding up order if the new law was in force at the time the order was made.