EMPLOYERS are being urged to follow the letter of the law in the coming weeks as they deal with the after-effects of the furlough scheme ending.

A law firm has warned that the closure of furlough – the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – could result in human resources “flashpoints” if procedures are not followed correctly.

The furlough scheme has subsidised more than 11million jobs, according to the government, at a cost of around £70billion. Around one million were on furlough at the end of September, prompting fears of a wave of job losses.

Rebecca Bennett, employment solicitor at law firm Ellis Jones, said: “The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been an absolute lifeline for many employers and employees.

“With the closure of the scheme, employers should have considered their options and followed the correct procedures, whether that was for returning staff, changes in terms and conditions or redundancies.

“The after-effects of the closure of the scheme will continue to make themselves felt in the coming weeks as employers and employees adjust. Ensuring the correct procedures are followed will help avoid any immediate flashpoints and issues in the longer term.”

Staff returning to work must have been brought back on their original terms and conditions, with consideration given to any necessary steps to facilitate their return.

Employers need consent if there are any fundamental changes to terms and conditions, such as hours or pay.

If staff are made redundant, there must be a genuine reason and a fair procedure must be gone through. Staff made redundant are entitled to notice but this period cannot be claimed under the furlough scheme.

Any short-term working or laying off requires consultation and adequate notice, with provision in the employee’s contract.

Furlough claims for September have to be submitted by October 14, with any amendments made by October 28.

Ellis Jones has offices in Bournemouth, Canford Cliffs, Ringwood, Swanage and Wimborne and in London.