Workforce on hold

04, May, 2020

4 Million British workers have been furloughed during the COVID-19 crisis, with the government expected to pay 80% of the salaries of as much as 6% of the entire population.  Once an employee is furloughed, they are unable to work in a capacity which either makes a profit or provides a service to the employer.

What’s the impact on Employers Liability?

The Employers’ Liability Insurance Act requires that all businesses with employees have Employers’ Liability insurance in force.  An individual who is furloughed retains their employment rights and normal employment law will apply for all employees.   So the requirement for Employers’ Liability insurance remains as does the exposure, albeit it’s reduced to non-manual and mental health in nature.

The impacted furloughed employees should be shown separately in wage roll estimates and declarations. It would be prudent to highlight the wage roll as well as the period of time when your employees were furloughed.

Guidance in respect of the government’s job retention scheme can be found here.


Supporting your furloughed employees

Some people may welcome being furloughed as it may help them to look after children or provide care to vulnerable people.  But other people may find the process more difficult.

Staff may be worried about whether they will have a job to come back to and/or they may feel that they are not valued enough.  Employers have a duty to take reasonable care for the health and safety of their staff, and this includes taking reasonable care to prevent issues surrounding mental health from occurring.

Mental Health UK has produced information on supporting employees on furlough, which outlines some of the ways you can support furloughed staff with their wellbeing.

Must read: Supporting employees on furlough



The majority of businesses have struggled to find the time to support their workforce with training and development over the past few years and now is the perfect opportunity to remedy that.

Helping your employees to utilise their spare time with training and development has numerous benefits both for the employee and your business.

  • It keeps your staff engaged and thinking about the role they have to play with their company
  • Upskills your most important business resource
  • Encourages the generation of blue-sky thinking and innovation
  • Increases income generation and profitability

The government has launched a new online platform offering free training courses that it hopes will allow citizens to use time spent at home to acquire new skills.  The Skills Toolkit is a collection of training resources to help people use the lockdown to acquire jobs skills for when more businesses reopen:

  • The Open University is providing courses on basic maths and how to write computer code
  • Futurelearn is offering courses in digital skills and producing online content
  • Google has a course in digital marketing
  • Digital-inclusion charity the Good Things Foundation has resources to help people get started online



  • OpenLearn 1,000 free online learning resources delivered by Open University
  • Coursera Courses, certificates and online degrees in subjects like computer science, data science, IT, maths, social sciences and languages.
  • edX Explore courses in a wide variety of topics including computer science, languages, data analysis and statistics, business and humanities.
  • Oxford Home Study Centre the UK’s leading Home Study College – over 50 free online courses


  • Alison is one of the world’s largest free learning platforms for education and skills training.
  • Central Bedfordshire College offers free online courses in work-place skills, social care and working in education.
  • Reed offers 50 free courses on business skills and health & care
  • Udemy Learn about professional growth, wellness, professional skills and essential tech skills
  • Class Central has collated free online Construction courses and MOOCs from top universities and colleges.
  • Free2Learn  leading training provider in the UK for unemployed

Improving digital skills

  • LinkedIn Learning 1 month free
  • Google Digital Garage Free online courses designed for employees to grow a career or business.
  • Lloyds Bank Academy Free digital skills learning for any level. For businesses and individuals.
  • Future Learn Free, interactive courses to build digital skills.
  • Amazon – Digital courses for anyone just starting out or looking to build on existing IT and Cloud skills.
  • Cisco Network Academy Build your skills in subjects like cyber security, entrepreneurship, Internet of things, Python and Linux.
  • IBM Skills – Build critical technology skills through thousands of online courses and free training programs created in partnership with universities from all over the world.


If you have any questions regarding Employers’ Liability or other insurance please contact us today.