Employers might need to put some or all of their employees on temporary leave ('furlough') during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This means an employee or worker can agree with their employer to be put on:
- furlough to stop work temporarily but stay employed
- 'flexible furlough' to work some of their usual hours and be put on furlough for the hours they did not work
This can be a difficult time for both employers and staff. It's a good idea to make sure staff have a way to communicate with the employer and other people they work with.
Furlough scheme changes
The furlough scheme (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) will run until 30 September 2021.
Employers will continue to pay staff on furlough 80% of their usual wages up to £2,500 per month – or more if that's been agreed with the employee or worker.
Who can be put on furlough
Employers can put someone on furlough, as long as they were employed on or before:
- 30 October 2020 (for claims ending up to 30 April 2021)
- 2 March 2021 (for claims starting on or after 1 May 2021)
They do not need to have been on furlough before.
Any of the following can be put on furlough, whether they work full time or part time:
- agency workers
- those on zero-hours contracts
Employers can also put someone on furlough who is temporarily unable to work because:
- they've been advised to stay at home by their doctor because of a health condition
- they have childcare responsibilities
- they're caring for a person in their household who is at higher risk
Employers may also be able to re-employ and then put on furlough staff who've recently left their jobs or been made redundant.
What staff on furlough can and cannot do
Staff on furlough can do:
- volunteer work, as long as it's for another employer or organisation
- training to keep their skills and learning up to date
Staff on furlough cannot:
- do tasks or activities that make money for their employer or an organisation linked to their employer
- provide a service for their employer or an organisation linked to their employer
If staff are on flexible furlough, they can do work for their employer during the hours they are not on furlough. They must get their full normal pay for any hours worked. An employer cannot claim for hours worked through HMRC's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.