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The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on business, both financially and from a “human” perspective.  While some businesses have thrived, many have already fallen victim to the virus and have closed down. 

In order to survive, a huge number of companies have taken advantage of the Government’s Job Retention Scheme and placed employees on furlough for the past few months. However, despite the fact that this scheme has now been extended to the end of April 2021, it simply cannot go on indefinitely.  Companies who are now over-resourced in terms of headcount will therefore need to think about redundancies at some point in the year.

Before doing so, companies should do two things.  Firstly, they should seek advice and check that their proposed dismissal strategy is lawful.  While these are far from normal times, normal rules apply when it comes to employment law.  Not being aware of what constitutes a fair redundancy process, or not realising that your selection process is discriminatory is simply no defence to an Employment Tribunal claim.

Secondly, before pressing the “redundancy” button, employers should consider all possible alternatives.  Failing to do so can render a perfectly reasonable and fair dismissal instantly unfair. 

Options include offering career breaks, sabbaticals or job shares. Those businesses with the contractual right to do so, could re-consider ‘normal’ short-time working or lay–off.  Zero-hour or annualised hours contracts may also be worth considering. Employees may also be willing to voluntarily agree to reduced pay, possibly in return for some other incentive, such as more flexibility over their working patterns?  Re-training and redeployment should also be considered.

What is clear is that flexibility will be at the heart of any successful  job-saving strategy, both on the part of the employer and the employee. Flexibility will also be key to “future-proofing” businesses going forward in these uncertain times. 

With this in mind, Thursfields is proud to offer a new service for businesses – “Flex-Ability”. This service examines your current workforce arrangements with a view to suggesting simple steps that you can take to increase the flexibility of your business and boost your ability to respond to fluctuating business need in an agile and resilient manner. 

To take advantage of this service, you simply need to  complete a short on-line questionnaire.  You will then be entitled to the benefit of a FREE telephone consultation with one of our specialist employment lawyers who will explore with you ways that you can ‘flex’ your workforce more effectively going forward.

To complete the “Flex-Ability” questionnaire please visit

If you would like more information please contact Helena Morrissey, Head of Employment Law, at Thursfields on 0345 20 73 72 8 or

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