Employment lawyers should brace for advice rush

Guy: Data gives an early warning

Employment lawyers could be about to see a surge in enquiries, with data from Citizens Advice showing that people are becoming increasingly concerned about redundancy.

Divorce is also entering people’s thoughts more, it found.

The advice pages on the charity’s website are probably the most viewed in the country – in the past three months, they have been viewed nearly 16m times, a 24% increase on the same period last year.

For 66 days straight, the page on being furloughed was the number one viewed, but with the nation moving into a new phase where government support packages are scaled back, Citizens Advice found that the main redundancy webpage overtook furlough briefly earlier this month.

It is now the number two viewed page, but three other redundancy advice pages now also sit in the top 10.

Search patterns demonstrated the evolution of people’s concerns. In the first month, to 10 April, the top search term was ‘coronavirus’, in the second month ‘furlough’ and last month ‘redundancy’.

Citizens Advice also found that people were no longer concentrating on the same handful of issues as they adapted to changing coronavirus challenges.

In the first month, Citizens Advice said it saw a lot of changes in what people were looking for advice on – from flight and accommodation cancellations to sick pay and what to do if you can’t pay your bills.

By mid-April, when the lockdown was well underway and government interventions in place, the top five issues became very clear: furlough, self employment, benefits, not being able to pay bills, and Universal Credit.

But over the last month, with life moving towards a new phase, the pattern was “reverting to being more volatile”.

In the last four weeks, pages on ending tenancies have been the sixth most viewed and, while numbers were lower, the page on divorce has been in the top five most-viewed pages on Sundays since mid-May.

Citizens Advice said that, as lockdown continued to be relaxed, it anticipated seeing issues similar to the start of the pandemic return to the top.

Chief executive Dame Gillian Guy said: “People are going to feel worried and stressed as the effects of coronavirus continue to be felt in the weeks, months and even years ahead.

“Our data gives an early warning of the different challenges coming down the road as people navigate the economic consequences of Covid-19.

“As more and more companies lay off staff, we’ve seen people searching for advice on redundancy ramp up over the last month.

“With lockdown measures continuing to ease and protections on jobs and bills starting to be scaled back, it’s vital government listens to these worries and adapts their policies accordingly.”

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