The Government announced a series of financial measures to help workers and businesses that are struggling to make ends meet in the coronavirus pandemic. Among those initiatives is a job retention scheme involving the furloughing of employees – but if you are furloughed, can you take on another job?

Coronavirus, which has killed more than 570 people in the UK, led Chancellor Rishi Sunak to take some unprecedented measures. Offering £330 billion worth of financial aid to the country’s businesses in a bid to stem the negative effects on the economy, one of these measures was offering to pay 80 percent of the salary of furloughed staff.

With many facing the prospect of losing their jobs, Rishi Sunak detailed a series of emergency measures, from changes to benefits to mortgage holidays.

Among them are plans for a bailout to cover the wages of millions of UK workers.

He pledged to cover 80 percent of salaries up to £2,500 per month.

All UK employers are eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.


What is furlough?

When an employee is furloughed their employer has asked them to take an unpaid leave of absence.

That means the worker will still technically be employed but won’t work or get paid.

The Chancellor’s aim is to ensure people do not lose their jobs while the coronavirus wreaks havoc on businesses and the economy.

In order to qualify to receive the money, employees should not work once classified as furloughed.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy says: “To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them [your employer] while you are furloughed.

“This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80 percent of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

“You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.

“If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.

“We intend for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to run for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020, but will extend if necessary.”


If you are furloughed can you take on another job?

If you want to take another job while furloughed, you would need to speak with your boss as you would still be their employee.

The terms of your contract could prevent you from working for another firm while employed by your current employer.

If your boss intends to take advantage of the job retention initiative, they should talk to you about being classified as a furloughed worker.

Once considered a furloughed employee, you remain on the payroll and do not lose your job.

Changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation.

Employers then submit information to HMRC about the workers that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal.

Phil Crowe, Employment Law partner at Shoosmiths, said: “Employers and managers need to start anticipating possible job losses now and if they think they may need to use the scheme to help prevent redundancies, they need to start having these conversations with staff as soon as possible.

“Employees are understandably worried and the earlier these discussions can happen the easier it will be to reassure staff about the potential measures that can be put in place to protect them financially.

“The key is to have open, frank and honest communication with your team. Don’t make promises you can’t fulfil, but explain that the new programme should help businesses ride out the storm until the economy bounces back.

“Set out the situation and make it clear what the alternatives are – for example if affected staff don’t agree to be furloughed in the short term it could have a domino effect and lead to wider problems for the business, including whole teams being made redundant or even in the worst cases businesses going under.

“Now is the time for everyone to be working side by side. The Government’s new job retention scheme will only work if employers and employees work together and decide on a course of action which puts the business and its wider workforce first.”


Original Article ‘Furlough: If you are furloughed can you take on another job’ written and published by Brinkwire


Looking to recruit via an agency?
Read our report “The Ultimate Guide to Finding a Recruitment Partner

Not yet benefiting from flexible workers?
Read our guide “Why Using Temporary Workers Will Grow Your Organisation”

How can you be sure you’re doing all you can to attract the right talent for your organisation?
Read our guide “The Ultimate Guide to The Recruitment Process”