All of a sudden, millions of people around the UK are finding that they’ve been ‘furloughed’ (or not) and are wondering what that means.
In a nutshell, if you’re furloughed you are agreeing with your employer to being kept on your work payroll, even though you aren’t working. The current scheme is designed to help businesses keep paying their employees when they can’t work due to lockdown restrictions.
But judging by my inbox, loads of people aren’t sure how it works or what happens next. So here’s our guide. Keep your questions coming – we’re updating this guide as news comes in.
Here’s how it works:
I’ve had loads of questions about who could be furloughed. There seems to be a lot of confusion out there with some businesses so I’d encourage people to speak to their boss or HR department if they aren’t being furloughed or have safely concerns.
The scheme includes staff who are:
“What if I was made redundant or left before 28 February 2020?”
Your employer can technically re-employ you and put you on furlough, then claim your wages back – but this wasn’t a legal requirement. There was a huge outcry from people who had just left to start a new job and found they weren’t covered by the scheme. So the chancellor has now confirmed the eligibility date has been extended to March 19 2020– the day before the original scheme was announced.
If and when the scheme rules change, you can refer to the Gov.uk website here. If you’re disputing something with your boss or HR team, then reference the link – it’s the Government’s official advice.
“I’m worried about going in to work for health reasons – can I ask to go on furlough?”
Complicated this one. If you’re ‘shielding’ as per the Government guidance for 1.5 million people then you should be able to be furloughed.
If you’re on sick leave then statutory sick pay (SSP) usually applies, but if you return to work you could be furloughed though the details about how this might work aren’t set in stone.
If you have concerns about doing your job during this period then speak to your HR team and explain what’s worrying you. Your employer must make sure that the Government guidelines on social distancing and lockdown rules are being observed, though we appreciate that some employees are disputing this is happening.
“Does furloughing cover other payment perks?”
Furloughing does not cover bonuses (your firm can still pay them if they want though) or commission since March. Basically, non-basic wage things aren’t covered.
“I’ve not been furloughed but I’ve been asked to work on reduced pay/hours”
Unfortunately, this can happen, though the business will have to pay you as normal rather than get the 80% support from the Government for you wages.
If you are really struggling due to this, then speak to the HR team urgently and explain the situation. You may also qualify for Universal Credit.
“Can I work for someone else or volunteer?”
If you’ve got more than one job you can get furloughed by any of your employers. You could find yourself working for one but not another. As long as you’re not moonlighting and it’s all above board (you’re not breaching contract, basically) then you should be okay.
Volunteering is allowed too – but only if you aren’t generating cash for the business, you’re volunteering for by doing so. So supporting your local NHS by working for/with them is fine, for example
“What about people who work for me in an individual capacity?”
You can furlough staff like nannies, cleaners, gardeners, etc as long as you pay them through PAYE as per the guidance on the Gov.uk website.
“How many businesses are furloughing staff?”
The British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) is tracking the impact on businesses here: https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/news/2020/04/bcc-coronavirus-business-impact-tracker
“What happens to my job in a few months?”
This is one of the great unknowns, because no one can give you an assurance that your employer will stay trading in the future.
Ideally, furloughing will allow businesses some space to get through the worst of the pandemic so when it’s peaked, they can start up and pay/employ you again. But beyond the scope of the scheme, we can’t predict what will happen and by being placed on furlough does not guarantee you will not be made redundant in the future.
“How do employers claim this grant?”
HMRC will be setting up an online portal for employers to claim the payments (coming soon). Claims will be backdatable to 01 March 2020 and they can claim every three weeks.
“What if I’m on maternity/paternity leave?”
Your employer can claim through the scheme for enhanced (earnings related) contractual pay for employees who qualify for either:
Let’s face it, there are loads more questions people need answering about work and employment issues. We’re doing our best to cover them at Resolver. Get help and information at http://news.resolver.co.uk/