Coronavirus - being furloughed if you can’t work
Your employer might have used the government Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to pay you while you’re not working. This is known as being a ‘furloughed worker’.
If your employer applied to the scheme, you’ll be paid 80% of your normal pay up to a maximum of £2,500 a month. This will continue until the end of October.
Your employer should have sent you a letter or email explaining you’ll be paid through the scheme. If they haven’t sent you anything, ask for confirmation in writing. The government will only pay your employer if they have evidence you’ve been furloughed.
You can be furloughed more than once or for the first time but only in a few specific situations.
Check if you can be furloughed
Your employer will only be able to use the furlough scheme to pay you if either:
you were furloughed before 11 June 2020
you’re returning from maternity leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave, adoption leave or parental bereavement leave
If you’re returning from one of these types of leave, your employer must also have used the scheme to furlough other employees.
You might want to ask to be furloughed if you:
have a health condition or disability which makes you ‘extremely vulnerable’
live with someone who is extremely vulnerable
are looking after your children while their school is closed
are pregnant or have a health condition and you’re worried about coronavirus
are over 70
You can be furloughed full-time or part-time. For example, you could work 3 days a week and be furloughed for the other 2 days. This is known as the flexible furlough scheme.
If you’re working from home you should get your normal pay from your employer.
If you’re an agency worker
If you can be furloughed, you need to ask your agency. They're the ones who can furlough you, not the place where you do your job.
If you’re self-employed
There’s another government scheme which helps people who are self-employed.
If you’re employed by a business and you’re also self-employed, you can be furloughed and might also be able to use the self-employment scheme.
If you or someone you live with is ‘extremely vulnerable’
You might have been furloughed because you or someone you live with is extremely vulnerable and was following guidance to self-isolate. This was called ‘shielding’.
Shielding has been paused - you might be asked to go back to your workplace.
If you’ve been asked to go back to work after furlough
Talk to your employer as soon as possible about changes they’ve made to make your workplace safe. They must carry out a risk assessment - which includes the risks to you if you’ve been shielding.
Your employer should let you work from home if you can.
Your employer could:
provide you with a separate room
reduce the time you spend with colleagues or customers
change your hours so you don’t have to travel on public transport at busy times
If you disagree with your employer about returning to work
If you can’t work from home and you don’t feel comfortable returning to work, you could ask to stay on furlough. If you’ve returned to work, you can be furloughed again if you were furloughed for at least 3 weeks before 1 July.
If your employer doesn’t agree to you being furloughed, get a doctor’s note explaining why it wouldn’t be safe for you to return to work. Show the note to your employer and write a letter to them explaining your concerns. Ask them to work with you to solve the problem.
If your employer won’t furlough you
You might be able to claim benefits or get more money if you’re already getting benefits.
If you’re already getting benefits, check if the government has made any changes to your benefits.
If your employer won’t furlough you
Your employer doesn’t have to furlough you, but you can ask why they’ve said no and ask if they’ll change their decision.
Check if they’ve seen the guidance for employers on GOV.UK. It explains who can be furloughed under the rules of the scheme.
If you look after someone and can’t be furloughed, you can check what to do if you need to be off work to care for someone.
If you’ve been made redundant while you’re furloughed
You can still be made redundant while you’re furloughed. Your employer has to follow the right process and can’t discriminate against you - check if your redundancy is fair if you’re not sure.
You might be entitled to:
- pay during your notice period - you can check how much notice pay you should get
- pay for holiday time you haven’t taken - you can check how much holiday pay you should get
- extra money for your redundancy - you can check how much redundancy pay you can get.
Check how your furlough pay is worked out
The government will give your employer 80% of your regular pay before tax - known as your ‘gross pay’. You can’t get more than £2,500 a month, even if 80% of your gross pay is more than this.
Your employer works out how much you should get before they make a claim. They can’t include tips, and they can only include commission and bonuses if your contract says you should always get them.
If you’re furloughed part-time, you should get 100% of your normal gross pay for the days you work and at least 80% for the days you’re furloughed.
Your employer might decide to pay you the extra 20% so you get 100% of your normal gross pay, but they don’t have to.
Your employer will take off tax, National Insurance contributions and any other deductions they normally make.
80% of your regular pay might be below minimum wage. This isn’t against the law, because you’re not working. If you won’t have enough money to live on you can:
If your pay varies or you're paid overtime
If you’ve been employed for a year or more, your employer should claim for whichever is higher out of:
- the amount you earned in the same month last year
- your average monthly earnings from the 2019-20 tax year
If you’ve had your job for less than a year, they’ll take an average of your earnings since you started.
If you’ve had your job for less than a year, they’ll take an average of your earnings since you started. This should also include any overtime you had to do or any commission your employer had to pay you.
If you and your employer pay into a workplace pension scheme
The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme will pay your employer enough to make the minimum contribution to your pension - this is 3% of your earnings. If your employer was paying more than 3%, they might stop paying the extra amount while they’re paying you through the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme.
You’ll still pay your pension contributions from the money you get through the scheme.
If you have more than 1 employer
You can be furloughed by each employer separately. Each employer can pay you a maximum of £2,500 a month. This means you could get more than £2,500 in total, if your regular pay is high enough.
If you’re having problems getting your furlough pay
For example, if you think your employer is keeping your furlough pay or you think you're getting the wrong amount. If you need money urgently, you can:
If your employer asked you to work while you're furloughed
If your employer furloughed you, they shouldn’t have asked you to work during any hours you’re furloughed - this includes asking you to work voluntarily.
Your employer can ask you to do certain types of training - for example, an online course to improve your skills. They can’t ask you to do training if it makes money or provides services for them.
Your employer could be committing a criminal offence if they ask you to work during any hours you’re furloughed. You could complain to your employer - tell them it’s against the rules of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. It’s a good idea to complain in writing, for example by text or email - this means you’ll have evidence if you need it.
If your employer still asks you to work, you could also report them to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). You don’t have to give your personal details when you report your employer. You can report an employer to HMRC on GOV.UK. Choose the option to ‘report tax fraud online’.
If you’re worried about what could happen to you if you report your employer, you can:
- get advice from Protect, a charity that helps people who want to report their employer for doing something wrong - known as ‘whistleblowing’
- talk to an adviser at your nearest Citizens Advice
If you want to get another job while you're furloughed
You can work somewhere else if your contract with your current employer lets you. Getting a new job won’t affect your furlough pay.
If you get a new job, you should make sure:
- you can go back to work for the employer who furloughed you when they decide to bring you back
- your new employer gives you the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) starter checklist form - you’ll need to complete Statement C
Taking holiday while you're furloughed
You can ask to take holidays in the usual way, if your employer agrees. This includes bank holidays. You should be paid in full for any holiday you take.
Your employer might also ask you to take holiday - they have to give you enough notice.
If your employer won’t let you take paid holiday while you’re furloughed
Your employer doesn’t have to let you take paid holiday if they have a good reason. For example they might not be able to afford it, because the law says they have to pay you 100% of your pay when you take holiday.
If you can’t take all your paid holiday because of coronavirus, you can carry over up to 4 weeks of holiday into the next year – you’ll have 2 years to use it.
It doesn’t matter what your job is - for example, whether you’re a key worker or not. All workers can carry over their holiday.
While you’re furloughed, you’ll still build up your paid holiday. You can arrange with your employer when to take it, as you usually would.
If your employer tells you to take holiday
They have to give you notice before the holiday starts and give you 100% of your pay while you're off.
The notice needs to be twice the length of the holiday. For example, if your employer tells you to take 1 week off, they need to tell you at least 2 weeks before the holiday starts.
If you’re in the UK on a work visa
If you’ve been furloughed, it won’t affect your right to stay in the UK. For example, if your visa requires you to:
have a job - being furloughed doesn’t mean you’ve lost your job
not claim money from 'public funds' - furlough pay isn’t seen as public funds
earn a minimum amount - it doesn’t matter if your furlough pay is less than the minimum amount
When you’re furloughed, you need to agree to the change in your contract with your employer. They might try to change something else in your contract at the same time.
If you’re not happy with the other changes, ask your employer if you can refuse them and still be furloughed.
You can check what to do if your employer tries to change something in your contract. If you need help talking to them you can get help from your nearest Citizens Advice.
If you don’t want to be furloughed
If you refuse to be furloughed, you could be made redundant. If your employer makes you redundant, they have to follow the usual rules to make the redundancy fair.
You might be able to claim benefits, but this will probably give you less money than 80% of your normal pay.