Posted on 4th June 2020

Knowing what the government is telling your employer is important for you too. It will help you understand your employment rights. Those rights still apply.

The government has told employers that it can place employees on furlough. The government gives your employer a grant which should cover 80% of your salary if you are put on furlough. This is called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Public Sector

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme#agreeing-to-furlough-employees

If your job is in the public sector or paid for by public funds normally, then the government has said your employer would be expected “to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them.” If you are working in the public sector or your job is funded by public money, you may have a claim if you have been furloughed and not given your normal pay.

Key guidance on furlough

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme#agreeing-to-furlough-employees

Just because this is a pandemic, employment law must still be followed. If you are placed on furlough this probably includes a change in your employment contract. Either you or your union must have agreed to this in writing.

Protections such as sick-pay, maternity & parental rights, rights against unfair dismissal and the law about redundancy still apply.

Prior to 1 July 2020, the time on furlough must be for at least 3 weeks. You can come off furlough and go back on again, but each time must be for at least 3 weeks. The last date you could have been furloughed was 10 June 2020.

Your employer cannot ask you to do any work during furlough. You can undertake training and volunteer for another organisation though.

Your holiday entitlement is not reduced if you are on furlough – https://www.gov.uk/guidance/holiday-entitlement-and-pay-during-coronavirus-covid-19. Holiday should be paid at your normal pay.

Could it cover you?

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-if-you-could-be-covered-by-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme#after28feb

You must have been working and on the pay system of your employer before 28 February 2020. If you stopped working for a company after 28 February 2020 then your employer may be able to re-employ you and place you on furlough.

If you are on a zero-hours contract your employer can still claim the furlough grant on your behalf.

If you are an agency worker then you can still be furloughed.

If you were on a temporary or on a fixed-term contract then the employer can extend it and place you on furlough if your contract would have come to an end.

You should receive 80% of your pay, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. You will still pay tax on those amounts, just like if you were still working.

It is your employer’s responsibility to claim the government grant to pay staff who have been furloughed. It can be backdated to 1 March 2020. If you think your employer did not access the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme and so did not pay you, then you may have a claim.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-self-employment-support-scheme-and-confirms-furlough-next-steps

From 1 July 2020, the government is allowing flexible furloughing. This means that you may be told to come back to work part-time by your employer. For the hours worked you should be given your normal pay, but you should still receive at least 80% of your salary for the periods you are not working.

You can only be furloughed after 1 July 2020 if you had been furloughed for at least 3 weeks before 1 July 2020. If you have not been put on furlough before 10 June 2020, then your employer cannot put you on furlough now.

The amount the government will pay your employer if you are on furlough will reduce month by month until 31 October 2020. However, your employer must top that up so that you continue to receive 80% of your pay. If your employer tries to pay you less because the government give them less, then your employer is not paying you properly.

Conclusion

The government has told your employer what it can and cannot do in the Coronavirus pandemic. To check to see if you may be entitled to compensation because your employer is not following the government guidance, click HERE. This blog is not legal advice, but if you think you have not been treated properly then you should seek advice from a qualified employment lawyer.