Older workers at higher risk of redundancy as furlough ends

Commentators highlight danger of ‘polarised’ labour market as employers are reminded they still have a duty of care over returning workers.

Older workers are at higher risk of being made redundant now that the furlough scheme has come to an end today, a number of organisations have warned.

The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that up to 800,000 people could still be on the scheme as it closes, with the last official count released earlier this month finding over half a million over-50s were still on the scheme.

There are a record job vacancies but the UK’s job market appears to still be divided.  While the furlough scheme has largely been heralded as a success, with peak unemployment now expected to fall far short of the worst case scenarios forecast early on in the pandemic – many businesses are still expecting redundancies.

A large proportion of businesses have been searching for information about the furlough scheme ending, with nearly two thirds seeking rules surrounding redundancies.

Businesses need to remember that while the furlough scheme was coming to an end, it was important to remember coronavirus wasn’t over. There is still a requirement to ensure a safe working environment to reassure staff that they aren’t being put at risk of Covid in the workplace. The changes made to statutory sick pay and rules around annual leave made during the pandemic still apply.

And while the policy of shielding had officially ended, employers still needed to consider their duty of care to clinically vulnerable employees.

It’s up to each employer to decide whether or not they will adopt a hybrid working pattern, implement permanent work from home arrangements or follow the government’s advice to relax them and encourage employees back to the workplace. Whatever suits your business needs we are able to help you get the balance that is right for you.

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