Employment law enquiries surge in wake of furlough scheme

The number of businesses seeking employment law advice has spiked in recent weeks as employers look for guidance around the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), reports law firm Nelsons.

The government introduced the CJRS in March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which has decimated revenues making it difficult for many businesses to pay staff.

CJRS allows businesses to recover 80% of wage costs up to £2,500 per month for employees who have been furloughed.

It was announced last week it would be extended to the end of June.

To take part, employers and employees need to agree in writing to the employee being designated as a ‘furloughed worker’.

Business owners must then submit details to HMRC through a new online portal, which went live on Monday 20 April.

Laura Kearsley, partner and solicitor in Nelsons’ employment law team, said: “Furlough leave is an entirely new concept and has been introduced as an alternative for employers who might have otherwise implemented redundancies, lay-offs or unpaid leave for their employees.

“As a result, we’ve received record numbers of enquiries from employers who require ongoing support to understand the new concept and how it could assist the survival of their business.”

The furlough scheme is undoubtedly a relief for many businesses, with 67,000 claims made within the first 30 minutes of the government’s online portal going live.

Kearsley added: “Millions of workers are expected to be furloughed because of the lockdown.

“A thorough understanding of [the process] is crucial for employers and that’s where we’ve been able to help.

“We’re in a fortunate position that we can continue to work from home to support these enquiries and have all the necessary technologies available to enable smart and secure working throughout the ongoing pandemic.”