We have received a lot of questions from trainees on furlough on a variety of issues and have answered the most common questions below.

If you have a question you think should be added to the FAQs, please complete the contact form below.

If you have any specific questions relating to your personal situation, you can get in touch directly with the team at legaleduc@lawscot.org.uk.

This depends on whether you will be furloughed for longer than a six month period.

If you are furloughed for less than six months, in terms of the Law Society's requirements, it is possible for you to qualify on the planned date provided your supervising solicitor is satisfied that you have met all of the PEAT 2 outcomes and meet the standard of the qualified solicitor. We advise having a conversation with your supervising solicitor to discuss your current status so you get an idea of how your qualification date may be impacted as soon as you can.

If you are, or are likely to be, on furlough for a period of longer than 6 months contact us to discuss this, and your options regarding dates of qualification. Email us at legaleduc@lawscot.org.uk.

This depends on when you are due to qualify.

If you are due to qualify on or before 30 September 2020 you are required to complete 48 hours of trainee CPD by the time you qualify (this is a reduction from 60 hours). This includes four hours of mandatory ethics trainee CPD and 32 hours of authorised trainee CPD. If you have been unable to complete this by your qualification date, you must undertake to do so.

If you are due to qualify after 30 September 2020 your requirements are currently to complete 60 hours of trainee CPD before you qualify.

If the situation changes in the future we will advise of any changes on this page as soon as possible.

Yes. Please email us at legaleduc@lawscot.org.uk so we can update your record.

Whether or not you require to undertake a PQPR after a period of furlough is down to a matter of professional judgement for your supervising solicitor. It is difficult to give a definitive position for all trainees as some periods of furlough will be relatively short (e.g. under a month) whilst others will be considerably longer. Some periods of furlough will cover an entire quarter (or more) whilst others will span two quarters.

Our suggestion would be that if a trainee has missed all or a significant proportion of a quarter that the PQPR simply be missed and a more extensive review be taken next time round. If a trainee has missed less than six weeks of a quarter it is more likely that they should undertake a PQPR for that time period. We note though that this is a unique circumstance and think that the best person to judge whether or not a PQPR is required is the supervising solicitor. If your supervising solicitor decides that a PQPR is unnecessary simply ignore the PQPR reminders.

If you have been on furlough for the entirity, or vast majority (see point above), of the period covering your PQPR, you can simply miss it and leave it blank.

Yes it is possible for you to qualify while you are on furlough but this is subject to you completing the required trainee CPD (see above) and on the condition that your supervising solicitor is satisfied that you have met all of the PEAT2 outcomes and you meet the standard of the qualifying solicitor. However, this may mean you are due to move into a new role thereafter and you must check with the guidance in the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme about what your position then is. 

While you are able to submit an application for admission whilst on furlough, please note that we cannot finalise the process at the moment as it is not yet possible for us to submit admission petitions electronically. If you wish to discuss further please contact davidmacdougall@lawscot.org.uk. Please ensure you are complying with the rules and guidance set out by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme at all times. 

We have a policy on the termination of training contracts for the reason of redundancy based on QC opinion. The policy statement is clear that training contracts cannot be terminated by employers for the reason of redundancy and other avenues should be considered prior to redundancy. The only organisation who can terminate a training contract is the Law Society of Scotland.

We understand that the current situation may lead to less work for trainee solicitors to undertake. Organisations may wish to consider utilising funding via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Training units are encouraged to read the policy statement and consider all other options prior to redundancy. If having done so, they wish to make a trainee solicitor redundant, they are required to make an application to the Admissions Sub-Committee of the Law Society of Scotland.

As part of the redundancy process, the Admissions Sub-Committee would look at how much of your traineeship you had completed and come to a decision about how much credit you may be awarded towards a future traineeship. This will be considered on a case-by-case basis. We require a statement from the employer confirming how much time a trainee has served they consider should be credited towards a future traineeship and would consider your professional development and the progress you had made up until that point. For example, if you had completed half of a traineeship and been making good progress towards meeting the PEAT2 outcomes, you may be credited 12 months and need to find a traineeship for the outstanding 12 months.

It is up to employers to interpret the guidance issued by the UK Government relating to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The guidance states:

Once you are on furlough you will not be able to work for your employer. You can undertake training or volunteer subject to public health guidance, as long as you’re not:

  • making money for your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
  • providing services to your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
  • furloughed by your employer and volunteering for them in a different role

For more information visit the UK Government website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme does allow for this, according to the updated guidance on the UK government website. Furloughed individuals are not allowed to work for their employer whilst on furlough, but can do other work.

We are aware of some trainees who – in particular – wish to return to old roles for a short-time in industries that need additional assistance during this time e.g. roles in the National Health Service, care homes, working in supermarkets and other such shops, farming etc.

The Admissions Sub-Committee has considered this matter and has agreed that it is possible for a trainee to take on another role whilst furloughed, so long as the following criteria are met:

  • The trainee has the consent of the training unit.
  • That the role is compliant with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme guidance (and any updated guidance). The guidance is available here - see section ‘Working for a different employer’.
  • That any such role is ceased before the end of the period of their furlough (that is they do not have two roles when training resumes).

There are a number of ways you can productively spend your time while you are on furlough, to help you get some structure to your day or feel like you are doing some personal or professional development. We recommend keeping in touch with your supervisor so you can get any advice from them and keep them up to date with how you are getting on. Some examples are:

  • Working for another organisation while you are on furlough (see point above).
  • Undertaking trainee CPD. This will need to be structured learning, rather than on the job learning.
  • Doing other relevant CPD or attending virtual events. This could be a good opportunity to developing your knowledge of a new area or exploring issues relating to the legal profession.
    See our CPD team’s free CPD offering
    Hey Legal are offering free CPD
  • Catching up on reading and case law. This isn’t something many people get time to do during the usual course of work. It could be a good opportunity to get ahead. Reading the Journal and engaging on LinkedIn are other good ways to access lots of relevant content.
  • If you are getting close to the end of your traineeship and might be thinking about NQ roles, this is a good time to prepare your CV and start thinking about what firms or organisations you might be interested in applying to in the future. Researching employers and doing some of the groundwork now might prove useful later on.
    Our careers team is available if you’d like a chat: careers@lawscot.org.uk.

It’s also important that being productive doesn’t become another source of stress. Being on furlough can be disorientating, so make sure you keep your wellbeing in check as a priority. You can have a look at our Lawscot Wellbeing resources here.

We hope that employers are being proactive in communicating with trainees on furlough. We recommend that employers keep trainees informed of their situation and offer as much ongoing support as possible.

If you haven’t had any communication with your employer and you are concerned, we recommend asking your supervisor, training manager or HR team for a catch up.

We know it can be frustrating if you have been furloughed during a seat or phase of work you were particularly interested in qualifying into or getting experience of. Repeating or changing a seat will be at an employer’s discretion. We recommend speaking to your supervising solicitor if you are in this position and feel strongly about getting access to a specific area of work. Bear in mind they may not be able to accommodate your request as a lot of the time trainees may need to work according to business need, which may be more distinct in the context of coronavirus, however there might be an opportunity for some flexibility with seats, or get experience of an area outside the traditional seat structure.

Currently (last updated 27 May 2020), the job market is fairly inactive, and many employers are waiting to see how they will respond to the changing picture of coronavirus. We have heard some employers are taking on NQs as normal, others are delaying their decisions for the moment and some are operating a recruitment freeze. We will provide information as soon as we can and we are keeping in touch with employers to make sure we have a current picture.

We anticipate that as lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted, different areas of the profession may start to pick up at different rates. Therefore roles in some areas may come to market sooner than others.

There are still some opportunities available and we recommend staying plugged-in to employers for current information, as well as looking out for opportunities through websites like Lawscot Jobs or Scottish Legal news and monitoring channels like LinkedIn or Twitter where roles can be advertised. You can also make speculative applications, particularly for small organisation, who may not have a formal recruitment structure in place.

Around a third of trainees have been furloughed for a period due to coronavirus, therefore it won’t put you in a unique situation in the eyes of employers. Employers will also know that decisions made about which staff to furlough is down to business-need, rather than personal performance, therefore it isn’t something that reflects on you personally. If you wanted, you could think carefully about how to make the most of your time on furlough if you do want to show future employers you used it for professional or personal development.

Do you have an FAQ that you think should be added to this list?
We will either give you a response and add it to the FAQs, or we will just answer you directly if your question is quite specific

Coronavirus update

We are working with partners in the Scottish legal sector and closely monitoring official advice and updates from Scottish Government and NHS to ensure that we are acting in accordance with the latest guidance to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees, members and stakeholders.