Minister needs to prevent employers using furloughed wages to calculate redundancy pay, says Dickson

The Economy Minister needs to legislate to prevent employers giving staff redundancy pay calculated from furlough wages, Alliance Economy spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA has said.

The East Antrim MLA was speaking after Diane Dodds confirmed employers could use the wages they are paying furloughed staff – 80 per cent of contracted wages under the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme – to calculate any redundancy payment for workers laid off during the pandemic. The Minister was responding to a question from Mr Dickson, who asked her to clarify the matter.

“In her answer, the Minister has confirmed there is nothing preventing employers from taking into consideration time on furlough when calculating redundancy pay. Theoretically, that could mean some employers who decide to use reduced wages to pay off long-serving employees.

“There is no question, employers should assess redundancy pay using employees’ pay prior to the furlough scheme, in line with the contractual obligations. Otherwise they would be receiving less favourable terms due to something beyond their control, in other words a deadly pandemic.

“The knowledge this is a possibility for unscrupulous employers will only add to many employees’ worries. The Minister needs to bring a regulation immediately to give protections to employees who may otherwise lose out.”