What the fuck does furlough mean?

Tuesday 14th April 2020 | Grace

As  Covid-19 started to spread across the globe, there was a harsh realisation the best way to fight the virus was to force people into isolation. The knock on effects of this being that many people are no longer be able to go physically go to work. And no work means no money – for both the employees and employers.

This brought forth a new wave of panic (away from stock piling toilet paper) as firms started to worry and people started to lose their jobs. Most of these people were then able to claim job seekers allowance but it soon became clear that as isolation became common practice, the government was going to have to do more. This is where they brought in furlough for companies and employees that have been hit worst by coronavirus.

So, what the fuck is furlough?

Furlough is being brought in for workers to help prevent mass unemployment. It is not an especially new idea but, for obvious reasons, is being used on a large scale using emergency funding supplied by the government (who previously  said  they didn’t have a secret money tree - I'm just saying).

It means that even though people won’t be working, they will still be kept on the firm’s payroll. In most cases, it means there will be a job for them when all of this is over. On behalf of the employee, their company will be able to claim 80% of their pay for them (up to £2,500 before tax).

This is a three-month scheme (starting March 1st) and pay will start for this at the end of April. If employers choose, they can top up the other 20% in pay.

On a side note, MPs are apparently exempt from this scheme as they have been offered an extra £10,000 to work from home to pay for staff and equiptment. Even though they denied NHS staff a pay rise and didn't provide them with enough funding in the first place to make this a safer situation.... again, just saying.

Who can it help?

Furlough is aimed at helping anyone who is unable to work at this time. If your company is unable to give you work, then you may be entitled to furlough. You must also have been on your job’s payroll before 28th February 2020. The number of hours that you work doesn’t make a difference. However, keep in mind that because the restrictions are being reviewed every three weeks, you may just be furloughed for three weeks (because time is just a concept right now, man.) However, you can be put on furlough more than once.

If you have been fired since 28th February, your boss can choose to rehire you and put you under the furlough scheme. Ultimately, it is pretty much private businesses  and anyone with employees who can make the claim.

People who pay taxes through PAYE or work as an apprentice are also entitled to this pay.

The government has stated that it will be helping public service workers in a different way.

Those able to claim furlough are eligible to the same employment rights as before. People who are caring for vulnerable people or are self-isolating for health reasons are also allowed furlough. If you have a salary that varies from month to month, it will be based on average earnings.

Who may be left out?

Those who are new hires to a company after 28th February are unable to claim furlough.

If you have been put on furlough, then you can’t do any work for your employer. But you can, however, volunteer for places as long as you aren’t making profit for your own firm.

Originally, freelancers were unable to claim furlough pay and were told they would have to claim unemployment benefits (around £75 a week). However, after pointing out the unfairness of this, freelancers are now able to claim 80% pay up to £2500 a month after tax. Self-employed people will have to claim this themselves and it will be calculated as an average monthly pay.

Be aware, freelancers may find it harder to claim furlough as there is a lot more proof needed, and it could also be hard to prove that contracts didn’t come to a ‘natural end’. Also, you may need to know that bosses do not have to legally keep you on after furlough has ended.

Basically, if you are unable to work due to the virus and were employed by a company before 28th February, then you should be getting paid furlough. For those that have any more questions about furlough, please check out the official government website.

Remember to please stay inside as much as you can and to thank ALL those key workers who are putting their lives at risk for us all.