Warning that almost quarter of a million furloughed jobs at risk of redundancy

Nearly a quarter of a million jobs are at risk in the region’s two powerhouse cities as the Government’s furlough scheme winds down.

That is the claim from employment law firm Slater Heelis Solicitors, which has already seen an increase of 50% in employment law enquiries as employers navigate the new flexible furlough scheme which allows them to bring back workers part time while lockdown restrictions are eased.

The firm, which operates from offices in Sale, Manchester and Timplerely, carried out research which showed that furlough has, so far, been used to save 384,700 jobs in the Greater Manchester region, with almost one in three employees put on the scheme by their employers.

In Liverpool City Region that figure is 173,900.

However research also suggests that more than two fifths (44%) of organisations will have to make some, or all, of their furloughed staff redundant when the scheme comes to an end, meaning 169,268 employees are at risk of losing their jobs in Greater Manchester, as well as 76,515 across the Liverpool City Region.

Sarah Calderwood, partner in employment law at Slater Heelis, said: “As employer contributions to the furlough scheme increase, ahead of it ending on 31 October, more businesses will be considering the future of their workforce and whether they need to restructure based on anticipated activity levels.

“It is a reality that a considerable proportion of those currently not working will not be returning to their roles as a result.

“Research and reports from employers are mixed, with some sectors struggling to operate under distancing guidelines and local lockdown guidelines, while other businesses have experienced an influx of demand due to changing needs.

“Those sectors that have been hit harder than others, such as hospitality and travel, are still subject to strict measures, while far fewer office-based employees than anticipated have returned to the workplace to date.”

Clarification from the Government on using the CJRS (coronavirus job retention scheme) package for paying employees’ notice periods also means many will consider this route to reduce the cost of restructuring.

Senior employees that have been with a business for a number of years may also be presented with a settlement offer.