Furlough & Discrimination
LUKE HUTCHINGS >
Employment Law PartnerThu 14 May 2020
Good news this week as the Chancellor announced the furlough scheme for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic will continue until October. Rishi Sunak left open the possibility of employers contributing to the costs of the scheme as we move into the summer, with hints being dropped that the percentage of furlough money coming from central Government will taper away, with the employer contributing progressively more.
Luke says “obviously at the moment large parts of the economy are effectively closed, and staff employed by businesses such as bars and nightclubs will not have any work. It has come to our attention that some employers are picking and choosing which staff are being offered furlough status, with some being told they should leave and find work elsewhere.”
Luke warns employers that if they select “preferred” employees for furlough status, and the “preferred” employees are, for instance, female, or younger, this could well be discriminatory and in breach of the Equality Act 2010.
Our advice is that employers should put employees on furlough when and if they meet the Government’s criteria, and if there is a business need. Making choices as between employees based on their supposed qualities or attractiveness to the business, rather than looking at the underlying roles performed, could be very risky and lead to Tribunal claims.
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