CORONAVIRUS LAW: FURLOUGHED EMPLOYEES GIVING EVIDENCE AT COURT IS NOT “WORK”

I am grateful to barrister Tom Herbert from bringing my attention to Nottinghamshire Law Society Civil Court User Bulletin No 5. It is a case, Fottles v Bourne Leisure, where HHJ Godsmark QC allowed an application to vacate. However during the course of the judgment the judge stated that he would not have allowed an adjournment on the grounds that the defendant’s witnesses were employees who were currently furloughed.

 

THE JUDGMENT

“It is suggested that for the Defendant’s solicitors to contact a furloughed witness
or call them to give evidence constitutes asking the furloughed employee to do
work that makes money for, or provides services for, the solicitors acting for the
Defendant employer. Those solicitors being an organisation linked or associated
with the Defendant and they will charge for their time in dealing with the witness.
I ruled that attending a court to give evidence for the employer is not “work” and
certainly not work within the meaning of the furlough scheme. Further, being
contacted by an employer’s solicitor to arrange attendance at court is not asking a
furloughed employee to do any work which makes money or provides services in
breach of the scheme.
Participating as a witness (for employer or anyone else) in the justice system is not
a breach of the terms of the furlough scheme.”