7 April 2020

What does furlough mean for me and my job?

Furlough, a new term to many until very recently, has been adopted by the UK Government as part of its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

If asked to furlough, it may affect your income yet will not affect your existing employment rights. Employers need to comply with existing equality and discrimination laws when they decide who to furlough.

You are still entitled to:

  • Statutory Sick Pay
  • maternity and other parental leave and pay
  • rights against unfair dismissal
  • redundancy payments.

What can’t I do whilst furloughed?

Furloughed workers cannot provide services to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of, their employer.

Furloughed workers can (provided the activities are not covered by the above restrictions) do voluntary work and undertake training.

If your employer asks you, when furloughed, to undertake training, you are entitled to at least your appropriate national minimum wage for that time. If the amount claimed under the CJRS does not cover the appropriate national minimum wage, your employer must pay your additional wages.

Provided it is permitted by your contract, you can take on work for another employer whilst furloughed. For example, you could take on a temporary role at a supermarket.

Can I be furloughed multiple times?

Yes. You must be furloughed for a minimum period of three consecutive weeks, and you can be furloughed multiple times, on each occasion for a minimum of three consecutive weeks.

Will CJRS change employees’ tax?

No – you will be taxed on earnings, including pension contributions, as normal.

Will the CJRS be policed?

Yes – guidance so far is limited yet HMRC has retained the right to retrospectively audit each claim and will continue to monitor businesses after the scheme has closed. HMRC has already identified some tax avoidance promoters trying to sell tax avoidance schemes to returning NHS workers – these do not work and or advice is to never knowingly engage in tax avoidance. Here are some more information.

NB If you stopped working for your employer on or after 28 February 2020, you can be re-employed and later furloughed. This is not limited to those who were made redundant.

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About the Author
Sarah Woodall, Head of Tax, Partner (Barrister)

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