Updated: Jan 7
Furlough: Know your employment and redundancy rights as tribunals look to hit 500,000 by spring
FURLOUGH rules are something many people have had to adapt to and wrap their heads around very quickly this year as coronavirus took hold of companies. Rishi Sunak has altered and extended the furlough scheme many times to keep the economy afloat and this has resulted in a worrying amount of confusion and conflict.
Between April and June 2020, the number of employment tribunals involving individuals increased by almost 20 percent. Additionally, there is now a backlog of cases to get through and according to recent analysis from Citizens Advice, the number of outstanding claims could pass 500,000 by spring at the current rate it’s going.
This in itself could be a conservative estimate given it does not include a potential rise in employment tribunal cases following the wave of redundancies expected as the furlough scheme draws to an end. According to the latest figures, the average wait time for single claims related to discrimination and unfair dismissal is 38 weeks, meaning someone putting in a claim this month may not see their case heard until July 2021.
Dame Gillian Guy, the Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, commented on the shocking figures and called for additional emergency funding for the system: “Employment tribunals ensure workers' rights are protected in some of the most serious cases, but right now they are facing the perfect storm of rising demand at a time of restricted capacity.
“We know that disabled people, those asked to shield, and parents and carers are at greater risk of redundancy. But if they want to challenge an unfair dismissal or discrimination they already face waiting nine months for their case to be heard, and the pandemic is only going to increase this. Workers who have been treated unfairly need to know employers that break the rules will no longer have lengthy waiting times on their side. Employment tribunals need more emergency funding, and ultimately workers need a one-stop shop to protect their employment rights."
The end of the furlough scheme is just days away and while the government will launch a Job Support Scheme to help workers throughout the winter months, anxieties over employment procedures and rights are likely to remain high.
This will magnified by the fact that the Job Support Scheme is less generous than the current furlough scheme and the prospect of a second wave of coronavirus cases lingers.