FAQ’s for Employees
- What does the term “Furlough” mean?
When a company doesn’t have work for its employees for a period of time, they can put them on temporary leave, called a furlough.
- Can an employee be on short-time working, take work elsewhere in the business or externally and still be enrolled in the Job Retention Scheme?
No, this is not possible. One Caveat: unless that was the employee’s previous working practice or had a part-time job prior.
- Instead of immediately instigating the Job Retention Scheme, is it possible to allow accrued but untaken holiday to be taken at full pay?
Yes, this may be possible but would be discretionary and needs to be agreed with your employer and be consistent with the detail of the scheme when fully announced by HMRC.
- If I am shielding in line with public health guidance, can I still be furloughed?
Yes, this may be possible.
- If I become sick or self-isolating while on furlough leave, will I receive my company sick pay?
While on furlough leave employees will be paid under government guidelines. When furlough is over, you will revert to what you would have been paid if sick and unable to work.
- What is the current Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) I will receive?
Employers must pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to employees and workers when they meet eligibility conditions. The 4 days waiting time does not apply, and SSP commences on day 1. You can get £94.25 (£95.85 from 6 April 2020) per week Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you’re too ill to work. It’s paid by your employer for up to 28 weeks.
- Can an employee opt-out or change my current pension contributions?
Ordinarily, you can reduce your contribution at any time. However, those that are in auto-enrolment there may be other factors. i.e. If you opt-out, then you may not be able to opt back in. However, seek guidance from your pension provider. For employees on Furlough Leave, your employer will pay the minimum 3% auto-enrolment minimum employer pension contribution on the Furlough Pay you receive. Your employer can recover this under the CJRS. Your employer will also deduct your normal 5% contribution too, although the amount will be 80% of the usual amount if your pay is only paid at the 80% minimum.
- Can an employee opt-out of their other current voluntary deductions?
You would need to discuss this with your employer, and it would depend on the benefits you wish to opt-out of.
- Does holiday still accrue during a period of furloughed leave?
Yes, holiday does accrue as normal.
- If I am furloughed, am I able to do any volunteer work or training?
Yes. An employee needs to give 3 days’ notice and produce a formal document as proof from whatever authority they are going to work with. The leave needs to be in a block of a minimum of 2 weeks up to 4 weeks maximum. At this time, the employer is obliged to accept the request. All terms of employment are protected except pay and compensation for loss of earnings is via the government. Your employer may also allow you to do other voluntary work outside the statutory Volunteer Leave scheme. Employers can require you to undertake training while furloughed, but you must be paid the minimum wage above for any time spent training.
- I am due to go off on a period of maternity / adoption / paternity or shared parental leave, what happens now?
The standard policy should apply.
- How will my furlough payments be calculated?
A minimum of 80% of your gross monthly salary capped at £2,500 pcm (gross).
- What should I do upon the expiration of my Furlough leave?
Your employer should be in contact with you before your furlough expiration with instruction of whether the furlough period has been extended, or if you are required to attend work.
- How much notice should my employer give me to return to work?
There is nothing contractually, but it is what would be seen as reasonable. 24-48 hours may be deemed to be reasonable depending on your personal circumstances which may include, for example, the need to make childcare arrangements.
- Should my employer automatically enrol me onto the Job Retention Scheme?
Yes. Your employer should automatically enrol you.
- Can I refuse to go on furlough leave, and how do I do this?
Yes, you can refuse. However, you may be worse off, especially if your employer has a contractual right to lay you off with no pay other than 5 days’ guarantee pay of £30.00 per day
- Can I refuse to go on furlough leave and request redundancy or paid holiday instead?
Yes, you can request it; however, there is no obligation for your employer to honour that request.
- If I am placed on furlough leave what happens to my pre-booked holiday if they fall within the same time frame?
This is unclear. You can suggest to your employer that it should allow you to reschedule, but it is unclear whether your employer has to accommodate this.
- If I am on Furlough leave for more than 4 weeks, or 6 weeks within a 13 week period, can I request that my role is now redundant and that process should commence?
No. If you are on furlough, you do not meet the definition of lay off or short-time working, and so are not entitled to demand redundancy pay after 4 or 6 weeks. Even if you did, your employer could defeat this right via the technical counter-notice procedure if it believes work will return to normal soon.
- Will I pay income tax on my furlough pay?
Yes – normal tax and NI will be deducted, so if you are subject to the £2,500.00 cap, you will receive around £1,925 net per month in the 20/21 tax year if you are on a 1250L tax code, have an autoenrollment pension with a 5% employee contribution and have no other taxable benefits or taxable income.
- Am I entitled to the National Minimum Wage while on furlough leave?
Only if you are asked to do training, as you are on furlough, you are not working and thus unfortunately not entitled to the NMW. You will be paid 80% of your pay, capped at £2,500.00 gross, and this applies to those earning the national minimum wage. The rate is due to increase on 6 April 2020, and it might be arguable this increase will not impact furloughed staff as they are not working.
- Can Directors be furloughed?
Yes, provided they are not doing any work with the exception of complying with their statutory duties under the Companies Act 2006 and any other applicable legislation. If there are 2 or more directors and you need someone to carry on answering enquiries and dealing with customers, you can furlough all but 1 director and take it in turns to do the work provided any period of furlough lasts for 3 weeks or more. A 1 week off 1 week on rota would not qualify. A 3 week off and 1 day on rotating pattern would qualify if you need to let some jobs build up, do them all in a day and then go back on furlough. Depending on the director’s salary and the cost of a virtual assistance, it may be cost effective to hire a virtual assistant to field calls in order that you can furlough the directors.
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We are well aware that when a challenging situation arises within work or with your employer, at these times you are likely to be worried, upset and require urgent advice.
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