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The Furlough Scheme (aka the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme) has been extended until the end of October, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced today. 

The chancellor promised no matter what changes after July, employees will receive the same level of support as they do now, at 80% of their salary, up to £2,500. However, the companies will have to take their part of the payment from August.

The government website says that when Britain reopens the economy it needs to support people to get back to work. From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.

New statistics published today revealed the job retention scheme has protected 7.5 million workers and almost 1 million businesses.

What is the furlough scheme?

The furlough scheme, officially named as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was created to help businesses not to lay off staff during the coronavirus pandemic. When an employee is put on furlough, their company will require them to take time off unpaid.

This means that companies can keep their employees on the payroll and bring them back up to full time in future but until then, employees can work fewer hours.

It is not the employee but the company who can apply for the Furlough Scheme. An employee can be on furlough for a minimum period of three weeks. The company pays the employee at least 80 percent of their salary up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, and then the company claims this back from the Government.

What shall I do?

If your company hasn’t given you the possibility of being furloughed, you should contact them and ask about it. Only the employer can apply for the scheme. 

Your employer will only be able to use the scheme to pay you if you were on their PAYE payroll on 19 March 2020. This includes if you’re:

  • a casual worker
  • on a zero-hours contract
  • on a temporary contract
  • an agency worker
  • an apprentice
  • on a fixed-term contract – including if your employer extended your fixed term since the scheme started

You can only be furloughed if you’re not working. If you’re working from home you should get your normal pay from your employer.

You have to be furloughed for at least 3 weeks.

If you are an agency worker, you should ask your agency to put you on a furlough. If you are self-employed, cannot apply for the furlough scheme but you can apply for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

Employees still have the same rights at work, including:

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

Grants cannot be used to substitute redundancy payments. HMRC will continue to monitor businesses after the scheme has closed.

When will I get the money?

It takes around six days to pay out the money counted from the day your employer applied for the scheme. If your company has registered six days before your payday, you should receive your payments on time.

Can I work somewhere else during the furlough?

It depends on your contract with your company. If it allows you to work for others, too, then you can work elsewhere and it shall not affect your grant. 

I was on a zero-hour contract. Can I be furloughed?

According to the Telegraph, zero-hours workers who are on the payroll should be able to be furloughed and receive 80pc of their salary each month, according to Kate Martin, of legal firm JMW Solicitors. Employers should look at the recent months of your salary to work out what the 80pc figure would be.

Photo: Number 10/ Flickr

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