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. The plan was created so people could still remain employed, even though they can’t work or because there is not sufficient work for them during the lockdown.
Our friends and MoneySavingExpert have a great guide on employment issues here.
If you’re being paid through PAYE (here’s the Citizens Advice guide to PAYE) and were on the payroll as of 28 February 2020 then you could be furloughed if you are not able to work.
This includes staff who are:
Your employer can technically re-employ you and put you on furlough, then claim your wages back. But this is their choice to do this.
However, if you left after the 28th, then the scheme wouldn’t cover you.
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.
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.
Yes, they can.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
Your employer can claim through the scheme for enhanced (earnings related) contractual pay for employees who qualify for either: