Furloughing—your questions answered

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Health Assured team

12 May 2020

What is furlough?

This is temporary leave from work which has been introduced by the government to support employers through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The aim of the scheme is to allow employees to remain on payroll, even though they are not working.

Can I be furloughed?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is available to all employees who were employed on or before the 28th February 2020 including on full time, part time, zero hour and fixed term contracts. Employers must have had a PAYE payroll scheme in place and enrolled online by the 19th March 2020 to claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

However, this scheme is mainly for private sector organisations and should be avoided by public sector organisations. The government guidance states that these organisations will continue to receive their standard public funding during this time which will ensure employees wages continue to be paid.

Can I apply for furlough myself?

You are not able to apply for the scheme directly as it is your employer’s responsibility to apply make a claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Can I work during furlough?

Furloughed individuals must not carry out work for or on behalf of their employers to be eligible for the 80% grant available under the Job retention Scheme. This includes both paid and voluntary work for the organisation.

However, the government guidance states that you can work for an alternative employer whilst on furlough if your contract with the current employer permits this. Many employment contracts have restrictions in place about having more than one employment therefore it is important to check first.

Can I be asked to use some of my annual leave during this time?

Employers reserve the right to determine when an employee can use their annual leave and can therefore request that annual leave is used during this time. However, employers need to ensure they are providing sufficient notice and should try to give twice as much notice as the time they need staff to take. For example, giving 2 days’ notice requesting someone take 1 day or annual leave.

Can I be asked to take a salary reduction?

Employers can request that individuals accept a temporary salary reduction during this time. However, unless there is a clause in the contract stating that Employers can impose this change, they would need the agreement of employees.

Can I be made redundant during Covid-19?

Employers can consider redundancies if they need to reduce costs across the organisation. There are strict rules to follow throughout the redundancy process and these would still apply during the current situation. More information regarding the general redundancy process can be obtained through the government website

How long will furlough last?

Furlough will last a minimum of three consecutive weeks and the scheme is currently in place until the end of October 2020. This guidance is constantly changing and the most up to date information can be obtained by visiting www.gov.uk.

How much will I be paid during furlough and will this include commission?

During furlough you will be paid 80% of your basic salary which will therefore not include any discretionary bonuses or commission you normally receive. Your employer can choose to top up your wages, but this is not something they are required to offer. If you do not receive a basic salary the 80% payment will be based on your average earnings in the same month from the previous year. Alternatively, if you have not been working for the employer for a year this will be based on your average earning whilst with this employer.

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