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‘Furloughing must be fair and reasonable’

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By Josh Loeb

The Veterinary Management Group (VMG) has produced a template ‘skills matrix’ for veterinary employers to use when furloughing staff.

The move comes after VMG president Richard Casey said it was important to be aware of the potential for discrimination claims to be made by furloughed staff if the correct processes were not followed.

Employees must be consulted and must agree to being furloughed – that’s absolutely essential

In a video message to remind members about the need for employers to make ‘objective, fair and reasonable’ decisions about which employees to furlough, Casey said: ‘Employees must be consulted and must agree to being furloughed – that’s absolutely essential. And that agreement should be signed and in writing.

‘As normal employment law such as the Equality Act 2010 applies when furloughing, I’m keen to talk to you about how we can all prevent discrimination and inequality when selecting employees to furlough.

‘For example, choosing a disproportionate amount of men or women can easily open us up to discrimination claims later on.’

Identifying critical workers and asking for volunteers were key to ensuring fairness, he said. He also said transparency was vital.

‘It is possible there may be cases where people become resentful that they’re classified as essential and continue working while others receive money for not working for a period of time. Others may be upset at being furloughed.

‘Please remember that the process of being furloughed can have a negative impact on mental health, and you still have a duty of care for people who are part of your teams, so you should consider how you can improve this positively.

‘This [difficulty] can all be avoided or minimised with transparency – discuss the options with your team and explain the process you’ve gone through to make these decisions.’

More information on the skills matrix, and the template documents, are available in the VMG’s latest newsletter at

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