When my employer tried to make me redundant, the Law Centre intervened and I was put on furlough – having a regular income was an absolute lifeline

‘Last October, out of the blue I was called into a virtual meeting with my boss. It was only when I logged on and saw that the HR manager was there that I realised it was something bad. My boss told me they were making me redundant. The company was doing fine and we were weathering the storm so it came as a complete shock. What was more of a shock, though, was the letter saying I was entitled to four weeks’ redundancy and four weeks’ pay. I didn’t know much about employment law but I’d been there five years so something rang a bell.

‘I had a conversation with ACAS who said it should be five weeks, so I went back to the HR manager saying I was entitled to five weeks’ pay, but because she’s based in the US where the system is completely different, she didn’t seem to know UK employment law.

‘I contacted the Law Centre to ask for advice and was put in touch with Sarah. She took over the reins and sent an email to HR setting out what I was entitled to. The company came back to her with an agreement, but the day before my final day there, the government changed the rules on furlough. Sarah said I had a right to be furloughed and if they refused then I could take it to a tribunal. She wrote to them explaining this and they agreed to furlough me for two months. The day before the furlough was due to end they extended it for another month and kept on doing it, a month at a time. Eventually they said they wanted me to come back to work and so I’ve gone back, but I’ve already been offered another job and have more interviews lined up so I won’t be staying long.

‘I don’t know what I would have done without Sarah’s advice. I could have made a massive mistake and still be unemployed. The whole experience was very stressful. My employer managed the situation incredibly badly – I was given the wrong advice and the HR manager didn’t know what she was doing. Without the Law Centre I wouldn’t have had the knowledge to be able to deal with it. I’d have taken their initial offer and then the money would have run out – going on furlough meant I had a regular income. That 80% was an absolute lifeline. It meant we could pay all our bills. Without it, we’d have really struggled. Sarah’s help and advice were invaluable.’

Anna* contacted us for advice about her redundancy entitlement. We wrote to her employer saying that if they continued with her redundancy when furlough was available as an alternative, she would have strong grounds for a claim for unfair dismissal. They agreed to furlough her at 80% of her salary and eventually offered Anna her job back.

*not her real name