The mysteries of being furloughed explained
In a nutshell, if you’re furloughed you are agreeing with your employer to being kept on your work payroll, even though you aren’t working. The current scheme is designed to help businesses keep paying their employees when they can’t work due to lockdown restrictions.
Here’s how it works:
Your employer claims up to 80 per cent of your wages from the government.
This is capped at £2,500 a month for each person before tax.
Your employer will pay you the 80 per cent up to the £2,500 as part of the scheme, but your employer has the option to top up your salary to the amount you would usually earn.
Your employer must let you know if you are being furloughed.
The scheme started on 1 March, but will not be available for employers to claim until the end of this month. It will run for at least three months.
When on furlough, you cannot work for your employer. You still have to pay tax on your pay. You can receive training whilst furloughed.
Who can be furloughed?
There seems to be a lot of confusion out there on who qualifies. I’d encourage people to speak to their boss or HR department if they aren’t being furloughed or have safely concerns.
The scheme includes staff who are:
On zero hours contracts
On flexible contracts
Agency staff (if on PAYE contract at the time)
What if I was made redundant or left before 28 February, 2020?
Your employer can technically re-employ you and put you on furlough, then claim your wages back – but this wasn’t a legal requirement. There was a huge outcry from people who had just left to start a new job and found they weren’t covered by the scheme. So the Chancellor has now confirmed the eligibility date has been extended to 19 March – the day before the original scheme was announced.
If you’re disputing something with your boss or HR team, then visit the gov.uk website – it’s the government’s official advice.
I’m worried about going in to work for health reasons – can I ask to go on furlough?
If you’re “shielding” as per the government guidance for 1.5 million people then you should be able to be furloughed. If you’re on sick leave, then statutory sick pay (SSP) usually applies, but if you return to work you could be furloughed, though the details about how this might work aren’t set in stone.
I’ve not been furloughed but I’ve been asked to work on reduced pay/hours
Sadly, this can happen, though the business will have to pay you as normal rather than get the 80 per cent support from the government for your wages. If you are struggling, you may also qualify for Universal Credit.
What about people who work for me in an individual capacity?
You can furlough staff like nannies, cleaners, gardeners, etc as long as you pay them through PAYE as per the guidance at gov.uk.
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