Government updates guidance on furloughed workers

The Government has updated its advice on its furloughed workers’ scheme.

Microscopic view of Coronavirus, a pathogen that attacks the respiratory tract. Analysis and test, experimentation. Sars. 3d render

 

The Government has published updated guidance on its furlough scheme which pays grants of up to 80% of wages capped at a salary of 2.5k pounds a month to employees who cannot work due to the coronavirus.

The guidance says that if an employer chooses to place a person on furlough, they will need to remain on furlough for a minimum of three weeks. However, they can place you on furlough more than once and one period can follow straight after an existing furlough period, while the scheme is open. This will help many childcare providers, for instance, who face fluctuating demand due to sickness, closures and other issues. The scheme will be open for at least three months.

The scheme, which is not open to the self employed, is expected to be up and running by the end of April. The grant will start on the day workers are placed on furlough and this can be backdated to 1 March.

The guidance also clarifies the following points:

  • employee and employer must agree to a person being on furlough
  • Any UK employer with a UK bank account will be able to claim, but a worker must have been on their employer’s PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020. They can be on any type of contract, including a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract.
  • If someone was made redundant after 28 February: their employer can agree to re-employ them and place them on furlough instead. They’ll still be able to claim a grant to cover 80% of monthly earnings, up to a monthly cap of £2,500.
  • A person can be put on furlough by one employer and continue to work for another, if it is permitted within their employment contract.
  • If a person is earning less because they are on furlough, their Universal Credit payment might change.
  • If a worker is on furlough and earning 80% of earnings in the qualifying period for SMP their payment may be affected.
  • If a worker’s employer asks them to go on furlough and they refuse they may be at risk of redundancy or termination of employment, depending on the circumstances of their employer. However, this must be in line with normal redundancy rules and protections.

It was also confirmed that commission payments are not included in furlough payment calculations.

Workers starting new jobs or moving between jobs are concerned that they are excluded from the scheme and the Treasury is reported to be in talks about this. Money Saving Expert’s Martin Lewis has encouraged those who have found themselves in this situation to request that their former employers rehire, and then furlough, them.

On 4th April, the Government updated the guidance again to cover employees who can’t work due to childcare problems. It now states: “If you are unable to work, including from home, due to caring responsibilities arising from coronavirus (Covid-19), such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing, or caring for a vulnerable individual in your household, then you should speak to your employer about whether they plan to place staff on furlough.“

It adds that funds will start from the day an employee is placed on furlough, which can be backdated to 1 March 2020.

The Government has also announced that employees can carry over statutory annual leave for two years, where it has not been reasonably practicable for the leave to be taken due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


Comments [22]

  • Louise says:

    I work at sainsbury’s and due to having no childcare and my youngest nursery as shut I am having to take unpaid leave. I have asked if they can furlough me but they said that they can’t because it’s only businesses that have closed down. Is this right? I am really struggling for money now and don’t know what I am entitled to

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Louise, Have you asked your local authority about alternative childcare if your nursery is closed? They are now able to ensure that the early years funding follows your child if your nursery is shut. Also, you can ask to be furloughed if there is no available childcare. The government guidance states: “If you are unable to work, including from home, due to caring responsibilities arising from coronavirus (COVID-19), such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing, or caring for a vulnerable individual in your household, then you should speak to your employer about whether they plan to place staff on furlough.”
      The employer does not have to agree furlough though, but it is certainly worth asking.

  • N Kaur says:

    I am currently 30 weeks pregnant with a 3 and 4 year old. (My 4 year old is in reception) Due to my bad pregnancy my husband is needed at home but his work place are refusing furlough based on the fact they do not want to put him on frulough mistakenly and have to pay any money back. They suggested my son goes to school but it is not suggested as we live with my father who is shielding. It is a vety worrying situation and his work place have suggested to use unpaid and annual leave.

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, Could you write to mandy@workingmums.co.uk withe more information eg is your husband needed to do childcare because you cannot do this [ie he would claim furlough due to lack of childcare availability?]; are you or you husband key workers; if your son could go to school would that not mean that you still have a child who needs childcare?

  • Brenda Dobie says:

    I am a 70 year old working in a care home and because of my age and also because I cannot work from home I am self isolating at home as I have been strongly advised by the government not to go to work. am I entitled to be furloughed ?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi, Do you work in the public sector or a private care home? Are you shielding? People who are shielding are entitled to be furloughed if they cannot work due to government advice. Check with your employer.

  • Bella says:

    I am currently off sick from work not coronavirus related and I am due back in 2 weeks but I am a single parent and my children are off school and son is in the high risk category can I be furloughed incentive sick note runs out?

  • Iva says:

    My son is im zero hours contract and last time he worked for company till jan with salary paid on 27th feb. As far as he is aware he is still on PAYE due to receiving emails and never has resigned or been given notice to leave.

    The company is refusing to furlough him or to give him jobs as they have decrease in workload and furloughed many permanent contracts.

    What are his options?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      The guidance says: Any employer with a UK payroll and a UK bank account will be able to claim, but you must have been on your employer’s PAYE payroll before or on 28 February 2020. You can be on any type of contract, including a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract.

  • Rhianne says:

    I am a member of police staff. Can key workers who are experiencing childcare issues be furloughed? Thank you

  • Gemma says:

    What if a company doesn’t want to apply for furlough? And you are a vulnerable person?

    • Mandy Garner

      Mandy Garner says:

      Hi Gemma, It is up to the employer to make the decision. You would have to argue that it is in their interests – the Government will cover your costs and they get to retain you rather than you being so worried you cannot focus. Do you have underlying health issues such as asthma? If so contact organisations that represent that health issue, eg Asthma UK.

  • Vicky Moran says:

    The Govermnent has now updated their website as of 4th April stating parents with caring responsibilities can now be furloughed. I think this was initially a grey area. Thankfully it looks like it has been resolved.


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