Coronavirus: Furlough

By Jeff Kong

Until the recent pandemic, many people had never heard of the term “furlough”. Coronavirus restrictions mean the work of many firms has come to a standstill. Pubs, restaurants, cafes, travel firms and estate agents are among those hit.

The government furlough scheme was put in place to temporarily help pay wages of people was would have otherwise been laid off as a result of the coronavirus. Being furloughed means employees are kept on the payroll, even though they aren't working.

Employers can claim 80% of their employees’ core salary (excluding bonuses or overtime) from the government, up to £2,500 per month before tax. Employers must write to their employees notifying them they’re being furloughed.

On 12 May 2020, the government announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October.

Why hasn’t my employer furloughed me?

If your employer cannot provide you with work because of the coronavirus, then you potentially should be furloughed. This includes full-time and part-time workers, and employees on flexible, zero-hour or agency contracts. If you are ‘high risk’ or shielding due to healthcare or family concerns, you are also entitled.

The minimum amount of time you can be furloughed for is three weeks, and you can be furloughed more than once. If you are on your employer’s PAYE payroll from the cut-off date of 19 March 2020, the scheme applies to you. If you have been made redundant since 19 March, your former employer can choose to rehire you under the furlough scheme. But employees hired for the first time after that date are not eligible for it.

Ultimately, whether you will be furloughed will be a decision for your employers, however, it is certainly worth putting in a request.

Do I have rights whilst I am furloughed?

You will have the same employment rights, for example, to sick pay, as before.

Will I have a guaranteed job to go back to when all this is over?

Companies are under no obligation to keep on any employees when they stop receiving furlough. However, if you feel like your employers are trying to use the pandemic as an excuse to manage you out of the business, please rest assured that you have the same employment rights as before all this, for example, the right not to be unfairly dismissed.

If you have an employment law problem and require legal advice, contact one of our specialist Employment Solicitors to arrange a free case analysis.

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