The furlough scheme, which allows employers to claim 80% of furloughed employees’ usual wage costs, up to £2,500, went live on Monday, 20 April.
Andrew Rayment, partner at law firm Walker Morris, advised companies in the food supply sector to start planning for the future.
“What happens next? What happens at the end of the furlough scheme? Are you into redundancies? Are you into managing work in a different way? Are you into pay reductions? Are you into working from home?” he said.
“What should you now be thinking about? What are you going to do about the brave new world of working from home?”
He issued the advice after revealing earlier this month that employers must obtain consent from employees to place them on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Charlotte Smith, associate at Walker Morris, said that food companies would have to consider how the working world was going to change going forward.
She added that the recent Government extension of the scheme until the end of June was helpful to food manufacturers.
This, she said, would provide them with more flexibility to rotate staff and choose when to close production lines.
“Some of our clients have seen their demand is up on the general factory line, but one or two of the lines might have shut. This means that, potentially, they may have moved those people to furlough,” she said.
Updated guidance has also revealed that furloughed staff can take holiday at their full salary.
Smith added that the guidance also revealed employers could furlough staff that were ‘shielding’ – where people with health conditions or the over-70s have to stay at home for three months – without having to provide an underlying need or business case.