Whenever anyone asks me why I decided to specialise in employment law, I know the answer immediately there are two primary reasons why, out of all the areas of law you can practice I chose employment law:
1) It is an area of law that is constantly changing and evolving and
2) you get the opportunity to practice the same law but from two very different perspectives, that of employee and employer.
This year has been unprecedented for employment law and unlike no other time in my career. Both reasons why I chose to go into employment law have had me pulling my hair out at times and wishing I had decided on something more stable like wills and probate!
I don’t need to tell you, I know many of you feel the same, but my year in review for 2020 has one major feature…….FURLOUGH.
It seems rather odd to think now that back in early March 2020 when we were preparing for our annual employment law and HR update seminar on the Isle of Wight that we were originally not intending to talk about the coronavirus. Then we were only going to give it a brief mention, but as the date crept up we made the very last minute decision to scrap all of the things I was going to be covering and instead I just covered the Coronavirus and considerations for employers. You can watch a video of that presentation here: https://youtu.be/S_k3FU4RFas
We all know what happened after that, and what I can only describe as the worst two weeks of my time as a Solicitor. I remember having two weeks of absolutely heart-breaking calls with business owners who just did not know what to do about paying their staff and the survival of the business. Fortunately, it was only no more than 2 weeks before the Chancellor announced the Job Retention Scheme, commonly known as Furlough Scheme. You can watch my video about this here: https://youtu.be/wYq0HLvYOr4
I have to say, like many people, I had to google what furlough meant, it being a word not commonly used in the UK before March 2020.
There followed the long nights of reading guidance, trying to unravel how it would all work and finding more questions than answers, and this is how it seems to have been for the rest of 2020. Complete lack of planning and clarity for employers with last minute changes to the support and guidance. I share your frustration and have had many a weekend ruined by last minute announcements by the government.
It has been made worthwhile by all of the lovely messages I have received over the months and most notably as we reach the end of the year from many business owners, contacts and friends who have said ‘I don’t know what we would have done without you this year’.
I went into employment law because of the variety but I became a Solicitor in the first place to help people and to solve problems, so as I reflect on this chaotic and stressful year, I am actually feeling blessed that the very reason I trained so hard and work so hard in my chosen profession has really come into fruition this year. If I could have my time again would I choose differently???????? ABSOLUTELY NOT……………I love what I do and cannot wait to help so many wonderful businesses, business owners and individuals in 2021….whatever it may bring (after a rest though…I need a rest first).