ONS figures reveal pandemic unemployment levels


Figures released today by the Office for National Statistics show there were 819,000 fewer workers on UK company payrolls in November than at the start of the pandemic. Julian Cox, employment law specialist and partner at BLM, comments on the impact of rising unemployment, including the sectors which have been hit hard:

“Even with furlough payments still available until March, today’s ONS figures show how the pandemic has played havoc with so many people’s livelihoods. With much of the country in, or about to enter, tier three, these restrictions will only cause further devastation as staffing requirements continue to see a downward trend, particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors.

“There’s a worry that a rapid rise in unemployment could indicate many businesses may need to consider restructuring or be at risk of insolvency. There’s also a concern over whether some businesses, who felt they have had to act swiftly to address their staffing levels to ensure survival, have handled redundancies and dismissals fairly, following proper procedures.

“As a result, we could be facing a wave of unfair dismissal and employment tribunal claims in 2021, which can attract liability for loss of earnings of £88,512 or 52 weeks gross salary currently. It has the potential to cause further damage to a business’ bottom line as they attempt to recoup the losses of this year, so seeking specialist legal support before embarking on staffing reviews is vital.”

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