These are the rules around working while on furlough - and how much you'll be paid

Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 11:17 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 11:17 am
Furloughed employees may be able to work for another employer, providing it does not breach their contractual obligations (Photo: Shutterstock)
Furloughed employees may be able to work for another employer, providing it does not breach their contractual obligations (Photo: Shutterstock)

The coronavirus outbreak has hit businesses particularly hard, forcing many employers to make tough decisions about which staff should be put on leave - or furloughed - and which should continue to work.

The government has introduced a number of emergency measures in response to the pandemic to help support workers through the crisis, including the newly introduced Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The scheme offers grants from HMRC to all UK employers who need help to pay the wages of staff who would otherwise be made redundant, funding 80 per cent of their salary, up to the value of £2,500 per month.

The scheme was originally meant to end in June but the Chancellor has now extended the scheme until the end of October.

Rishi Sunak announced on Tuesday (12 May) that no changes will be made to the scheme until the end of July, with the three months after this point continuing with more flexibility.

Mr Sunak said employers will be able to bring workers back on a part-time basis and the government will require employers to make a contribution.

However, employees will continue to get the same support they do now, receiving 80 per cent of their wages.

Can my employer furlough me and ask me to keep working?

Your employer will need to notify you before they put you on furlough.

At this point, you should not undertake any work for your employer during this period.

Workers will remain employed while furloughed, and your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary.

If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

Can I work for anyone else while I’m furloughed?

Furloughed employees may be able to work for another employer, providing it does not breach their contractual obligations with their current employer.

Individuals should only work outside of the hours they would normally work in their usual job.

Taking on a weekend or evening job may not breach obligations if your contract stipulates a 9am to 5pm working day.

Can I do any volunteer work?

You are allowed to take part in volunteer work while you are furloughed, as well as training, so long as the work does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation.

If you are required to complete online training courses while on furlough, you must be paid at the National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80 per cent of your wage that has been subsided.

How much money will I get?

Furloughed workers will receive at least 80 per cent of their usual monthly earnings, up to a maximum of £2,500.

When the government works out your normal pay they will not include any commission or bonuses you might normally get.

Your employer will deduct Income Tax, National Insurance contributions and any other other deductions that they would normally make.

The grant will start on the day you were placed on furlough and this can be backdated to 1 March.

How long will I be on furlough?

You can claim furloughed pay for a minimum of three weeks and for up to three months, although this may be extended.

Your employer can choose to pay you more than the grant, but they do not have to.

When the government works out your normal pay they will not include any commission or bonuses you might normally get.

Can I be made redundant?

Your employer can still make you redundant while you are on furlough, or afterwards.

However, your employee rights are not affected while on furlough, including your redundancy rights.

Can I apply for Universal Credit if I've been furloughed?

If your salary is reduced as a result of being furloughed, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

Universal Credit is a payment that is made to help those who are on a low income, or out of work, with living costs.

It is paid in monthly installments, or twice a month for some people in Scotland.

The criteria for claiming Universal Credit includes the following:

This criteria includes the following:

- you’re on a low income or out of work

- you’re 18 or over (there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17)

- you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)

- you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you

- you live in the UK

To apply for Universal Credit, you will need to complete an application form online.

To do this, you will require:

- your bank, building society or credit union account details (call the Universal Credit helpline if you do not have one on 0800 328 5644)

an email address

- information about your housing, such as how much rent you pay

- details of your income, such as payslips

- details of savings and any investments, like shares or a property that you rent out

- details of how much you pay for childcare if you’re applying for help with childcare costs

You will also have to verify your identity online, either via a driving licence, passport, or a debit or credit card.

If you and your partner live together, you will have to apply as a couple, even if you are not married.