Skip to main content

Henry Field

Resourcing & Talent Manager, NewLaw

Henry Field joined Legal News at its event for furloughed employees working in law firms in Wales at the end of March.

We invited Henry to share his story and advice with our readers.

I’ve been on furlough for over a week.

For those that don’t know what that means, ACAS have some useful, easy to understand information here.

I’ve tried my best to stay positive. I’ve kept busy and found ways to keep my mind occupied.

I’ve been posting on social media about what I’ve been up to since being put on furlough.

These posts have caused others that are experiencing the same to reach out and ask for advice on how to cope as they’re not feeling great.

Different people will find different approaches useful, so I decided to share my five top tips with Legal News readers:

1. Shift your mindset

Before you can do anything productive over the next few weeks/months, you need to make sure you’re in the head space to do so. Hard, I know!When I was told I had been put on furlough, my mind started racing: ‘ Why me? What have I done wrong? How can they do this to me? How unfair! After all I’ve done! How long for?’

All reasonable questions for anyone to have to deal with. All questions I’ve been asked by other professionals that have found themselves in the same position that have reached out to me. The trouble is, there is no answer that would make anyone feel any better about the decision.

Every business is different; some have had to close completely, some have had a reduction in workload and need less staff, some have had to go on recruitment freezes and no longer need as much HR/Recruitment support for a while. One thing these business have in common: they’re all less profitable than they were a month ago. To survive and still have a job for you, me, or your colleagues to go back to they’ve had to make some difficult decisions.

No one has said ‘Henry can go on furlough because he was late four times in a month’, they’re saying: ‘We don’t have enough work to need a full HR team and only need core staff to support’. It just so happens you’re not one of them. That doesn’t make you any less valued by the business – in normal circumstances.

Furlough is there to save your job. It’s that simple.

2. Volunteer!

If you’re on furlough, the Government is paying 80% of your salary for a while, you may as well do something to earn it – if you can.

The NHS is dealing with volumes of patients, staff sickness and a lack of resources unlike anything it’s ever had to deal with before. Local councils are redeploying staff, and screaming out for support from wherever they can get it. There are a lot of places you can go online to find opportunities to help during this crisis, with some handy tips at the end of this Legal News feature, here.

I’m lucky. I have had the privilege of starting to volunteer with Cardiff and Vale University Health Board within its Recruitment/HR team this week. It’s been an absolute privilege to see what the team has been doing and turning its hand to support the NHS.

If you’re not on furlough, you may have been unfortunate enough to have lost your job entirely.

At this point in time, I can only recommend one thing:

Take up any role that shows you’re playing your part.

The NHS is recruiting thousands of new staff across the country. Delivery companies need drivers. Supermarkets need people in warehouses. Trust me when I say – in a few months’ time, when we’re on the other side of this – no one is going to judge you for taking a pay cut or doing something totally out of skew with your career path. The fact will be, you did your bit during a time the country needed support the most.

3. Try something new

A bit of a cliché, I know! Yet how often have you said ‘I would love to be able to…. but I don’t have the time?’ Now, you’ve got plenty!

If you have the finances available, there are plenty of accredited online courses you could really get stuck in to. You could take up crotchet, baking, home improvements, get to grips with technology, etc.

If you have a Premium LinkedIn account, there is an entire learning platform in the settings! Everything from mindfulness, to Microsoft Excel skills. From negotiation to interview tips; there’s plenty available to keep you busy and learn new skills to help you get ahead when the job market opens up again.

4: Take your daily exercise

I am not a runner. I don’t have dumbbells at home. I do one sit up a day (getting out of bed). But over the last week, me and my better half have gone on a 60/90 minute walk every evening.

I’ve lived here for a year and never realised we were only 30 minutes from St Fagans Village. (I probably shouldn’t have shared that!) We’ve discovered so much fresh air, countryside and beautiful scenery – an environment that we wouldn’t have been aware of if had I not been furloughed. It’s changed my entire view of where I live.

Even if it’s a 10 minute walk around the block – I cannot stress enough the importance and difference leaving the house for exercise has had on me.

…and that’s coming from someone that is pretty sure they’re allergic to exercise…

5: Talk about how you’re feeling

You can change your mindset, volunteer, Take up a new hobby and go for a walk. Great! That doesn’t make everything ok. Your finances have likely changed. The projects you were completing before going on leave are sat there unworked. Sunday lunch with family and friends isn’t happening at the moment. It all still sucks. As much as you do, life is not the same at the moment, and you may be feeling down.

Here’s the thing.

That’s OK. That’s normal.

But you need to talk about it. You need to speak up, reach out and let others know you’re struggling. There are so many online support groups at the moment, seminars, talks, and ways to reach out.

I know that as much as I’m staying busy and wanting to be positive. I’ve had teary moments, missing silly little things that I would usually take for granted. No one is immune to this.

I highly recommend the FREE Legal News Exchange events too. They’re a great way to stay connected, engaged in the legal profession in Wales and to get some invaluable advice from representative bodies, regulators, recruiters and charities who are there to help you. Visit the events page for more.


I hope at least one of  my tips helps you or someone you know.

As I always stress, I’m in no way an expert when it comes to this but we all have to support one another, share our experiences and be honest so others know where to turn, and understand that what they are feeling is a very common reaction to these unprecedented times.

Henry Field

Resourcing & Talent Manager, NewLaw

Henry Field Assoc CIPD, is the Resourcing & Talent Manager at NewLaw, based in Cardiff. Henry is currently on furlough and using his time to volunteer within Cardiff and Vale University Health Board. To find more volunteer opportunities within the trust, please click here.