A very quick tip today about avoiding disputes is around that beautiful word that we all know and love which is furlough!
A lot of the disputes that are potentially bubbling at the moment
from an employee and an employer's perspective is about contact
and whether we should be contacting people, what we can be asking people to do, etc.
My personal view is first of all that the government should have called it something a little bit more straightforward, such as “delayed redundancy” or something like that because that word redundancy is absolutely critical.
The reason you’re furloughing employees is because the work is no longer there and had this furloughing (job retention) scheme not have been in place then you would have been making that employee redundant.
The work has gone - so you absolutely cannot be asking people to do parts of their job. But the person is still there. This person is still your employee
and therefore the welfare discussions should absolutely be there - the communication should be in place.
My personal guidance (it is very much only my personal guidance) is that employers should relate it to like you would long-term sickness.
You would (hopefully) never dream of asking an employee who is long-term sick to do their job. Hopefully you would always be keeping in contact with them, you would be asking them how they are, you would be asking them if there's any help they need. You would be treating the employee as a human being and keeping them informed. From an employee's perspective you should expect that your employer can contact you, will contact you, will keep you updated, etc.
So that's my personal guidance is probably view it like long-term sickness
as regards the communication that should happen between employer and employee. I hope that helps a little bit and hopefully will help any future disputes in terms of what you should or shouldn't talk to people about.
I hope that helps and please give us a call if you want to know more about this or workplace mediation.