Coronavirus - if your employer has told you not to work
If your place of work has shut down or there’s no work for you because of coronavirus, you can carry on getting paid.
Your employer should use the government Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to pay you while there’s no work to do. This includes if you’re a casual worker, on a zero-hours contract or an agency worker.
When your employer applies 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 government ends the scheme or you return to work.
When your employer applies to the scheme, they have to pay you for any time you were sent home from 1 March 2020. This is called ‘backdating’ your pay.
The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme only covers you if you’re not working. If you’re working from home you should get your normal pay from your employer.
If your employer says you’re being ‘furloughed’
This means your employer is using the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme. You’re still employed by your employer while you’re not working - this is called being a ‘furloughed worker’.
The government will only pay your employer if they have evidence you’ve been furloughed.
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.
Check how much you’ll get
The government will work out 80% of your normal pay before tax - also 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. When the government works out your normal pay they won’t include any commission or bonuses you usually get.
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 then take off tax, National Insurance contributions and any other deductions they normally make.
80% of your normal 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 normal pay changes from month to month
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 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 normal pay is high enough.
If you need money while you’re waiting for your employer to pay you
If you’re self-isolating because you’re ‘extremely vulnerable’
Check if you’re ‘extremely vulnerable’ according to the guidance on GOV.UK.
Your employer can furlough you and pay you through the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme. They can do this even if the business isn’t shutting down.
If you’re not sure your employer will pay you through the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme
Your employer can pay you under the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, as long as you were on your employer’s payroll on 28 February 2020.
Your employer might not have realised they could use the scheme, or just used different words when they told you not to work. What you do next depends on what your employer told you.
Your employer might have told you:
- you were being laid off - this means you’re still employed but you’re suspended without pay because there’s no work for you
- you were being made redundant - this means you’re no longer employed because there’s no work for you
- just to go home because there was no work or pay for you
Some employers wrongly use the term ‘laid off’ when they mean they’re making you redundant.
If you’re not sure, check with your employer whether you’re still employed or if you were made redundant. If you were made redundant, there are some extra steps.
If you’re still employed
Ask your employer whether they’re using the scheme to keep paying you. You should also remind them they can backdate your pay to 1 March 2020. If they say no, ask them to give you the reason in writing and contact your nearest Citizens Advice.
If you were made redundant or left your job before 28 February 2020
You won’t be able to use the scheme. You should check what benefits you can get.
If you were made redundant or left your job on or after 28 February 2020
You’ll need to challenge your redundancy or ask for your old job back before your employer can pay you using the scheme.
Write to your employer asking them to rehire you. Explain that the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme says if they rehire you, they can treat you as a ‘furloughed worker’ and claim money to pay you.
If your employer says they won’t pay you under the scheme or rehire you, you should ask them to give you their reasons in writing. You should also contact your nearest Citizens Advice as soon as possible.