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Home | COVID-19 | Coronavirus – being furloughed if you can’t work

Coronavirus – being furloughed if you can’t work

2nd February 2021

Your employer might be able to use 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 uses 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 April 2021.

You can still be furloughed if you’re: 

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. 

Check if you can be furloughed

Your employer will only be able to use the scheme to pay you if you were employed and paid on or before 30 October 2020.

If you were made redundant after 23 September 2020, your employer can re-employ you and furlough you. You should contact them as soon as possible and ask them to consider doing this.

You might want to ask to be furloughed if you:

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.

Find out more about the scheme for self-employed people.

If you’re vulnerable

You might want to ask your employer to furlough you if you can’t work from home and one of these applies:

You should tell your employer you’re vulnerable as soon as possible and explain your situation to them. If they ask for evidence, you can use your shielding letter or a letter from your GP explaining your medical condition.

Read more about shielding on

If your employer won’t furlough you

If your employer doesn’t furlough you, check if you can get Statutory Sick Pay.

You might be able to claim benefits or get more money if you’re already getting benefits. Check what benefits you can get.

If you’re already getting benefits, check if the government has made any changes to your benefits.

If your employer can’t or won’t furlough you

Your employer doesn’t have to furlough you, but if you’re eligible you can ask why they’ve said no and ask if they’ll change their decision. 

Asking your employer to change their decision

You should 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 your employer still won’t furlough you or you’re not eligible

If you don’t want to go to work, there are other things you can do. For example, you could ask your employer if you can:

You should also check what benefits you can get.

If you’re clinically extremely vulnerable, you could ask your doctor for a fit note to say you can’t work. You should check if you can get statutory sick pay (SSP).

If you’ve been made redundant while you’re furloughed

You can still be made redundant while you’re furloughed. You employer will take you off the furlough scheme when you start your notice period. They’ll still have to pay you any money you’re owed and follow the right process. They can’t discriminate against you – check if your redundancy is fair if you’re not sure.

You might be entitled to:

If you’re a shielding social care worker and your employer wouldn’t furlough you

If you’re a social care worker in Scotland and you weren’t furloughed when you were shielding between March and October 2020, you can get a lump sum payment to compensate you. The amount could be the difference between any sick pay you got and 80% of your normal wages.  

You’re a social care worker if you work in the social care sector – for example, if you work in:

If you’re getting any benefits such as Universal Credit, check if the payment will affect your benefits. Read the guidance about the possible impact on benefits on the Inspiring Scotland website 

Contact your local bureau to see if you’ll be better or worse off getting the payment. An adviser can do a better off calculation for you.     

Find out more about the Social Care Staff Support Fund and apply on the Inspiring Scotland website.

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 will calculate your furlough pay using the amount you earned in your last pay before 19 March 2020 if you were either:

If you weren’t furloughed before this and you started your job after 19 March 2020, they’ll use the amount you earned in your last pay before 30 October.

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. 

If your furlough pay is 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 you’re having problems getting your furlough pay

Find out what to do if you’re having problems getting 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:

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:

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:

If your employer tries to change other things in your contract

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 from us. Call our freephone number 0300 303 4321 or email us by filling in our online enquiry form.

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.

Can’t find the answer to your question? Call our freephone number 0300 303 4321 or email us by filling in our online enquiry form.

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