Three-quarters have furloughed staff, despite warning it should be used as last option

Despite one HR Director’s (HRD) warning that employers should refrain from the furlough of staff and only use it once all other options have failed, three-quarters of employers have already done so or plan to do in the future.

Neil Morrison, director of HR at Severn Trent said:

We should all be doing everything in our control in organisations to refrain from using the scheme and maintaining it for those that really need it,” Morrison said. “Our key focus as business leaders has to be on protecting our colleagues, both physically and financially, and looking to rebuild the economy as soon as possible. That means thinking more broadly about the economic impact of the furlough scheme on the country as a whole.

Lewis Silkin, a law firm has found that 75 per cent have furloughed staff, or plan to do so. Under a quarter (23 per cent) said that they do not plan to furlough staff. Only 13 per cent plan to rotate the staff they do furlough.

Businesses are not using this time to train their staff as 70 per cent have not thought about asking their furloughed staff to do training or learning activities. Less than a tenth (9 per cent) of employers have actually asked their staff to take part in training whilst being furloughed.

James Davies, employment partner at Lewis Silkin, said:

Since this survey was first launched in March, the circumstances facing employers and employees have continued to evolve rapidly, as have government measures, and this is reflected in the response by businesses in recent weeks.

Whereas just a few weeks ago employers were beginning to implement large-scale working from home measures, we are now seeing the majority of firms furloughing some employees and making use of the government support being provided. The latest findings also demonstrate that employers are taking increasingly sophisticated measures to support staff, notably those able to work from home.

As businesses adjust to the new normal, minds will inevitably turn to seeking ways to mitigate the longer-term impact of the disruption and even planning ahead for a brighter future. This might include rolling out training initiatives, both to maintain company culture and also to prepare staff for successful re-introduction once they are brought back fully into the workplace.

Lewis Silkin surveyed 67 senior HR leaders collectively responsible for 200,000 employees to acquire these results.