- Don’t do any work for your employer – even if they say it is ok to do so!
We are sure that most employers will be encouraging you not to work as they won’t want to get into trouble with HMRC for potential fraudulent claims, but just in case:
The whole point of being furloughed is so your employer can claim back 80% of your wages from the Government, rather than having to possibly make you redundant. If you carry out work for them (or an associated company) which will either:
- provide a service to them, or
- generate revenue (ie money) for them
then your employer will be unable to claim this money back. After all, if there is work for you to do then your employer doesn’t really need to put you on furlough and they definitely don’t need to think about making you redundant.
- But what about training? They told me I need to keep on top of it even though I’m on furlough.
Ok, so this is an exception to point 1. If you need to maintain a qualification or undertake training, then you can do so without it affecting you being on furlough. The guidance even says that your employer should be encouraging you to continue training. So make a cup of coffee and settle down comfortably to catch up on the latest updates and issues affecting your areas of work expertise – making sure to log the CPD hours of course!
This should go without saying, but if you are the trainer then you shouldn’t be giving any training sessions if you are on furlough…
Your employer should also ensure you are paid, as a minimum, at least the National Living Wage / National Minimum Wage or Apprenticeship Minimum Wage for the whole time you are training. This will only be relevant if receiving 80% of your wages means you are earning less than those per hour.
- Want to help your neighbours out?
Provided you are fit and healthy (please do not volunteer if you are supposed to be self-isolating or have symptoms of COVID-19) then you can carry out volunteer work.
Again, make sure that your employer is not going to receive money from this (so no buying and delivering supplies from your employer) and that it is not providing a service to them (so best to avoid wearing logo’d clothes that advertise your employer.)
- I miss interacting with people I met through work – can I still network?
This is still a grey area but we are advising clients that provided they attend on behalf of themselves, and don’t talk about their employer at all, then it should be ok to attend virtual networking events. We recommend creating personal Zoom or other social networking accounts so there is no link between you and your employer, as most work emails make reference to the company name or have some identifiable features in them.
Remember – you need to avoid generating revenue for your employer or providing a service to them. So if you just talk about what books you have been reading or what good tv series you are now watching you should be fine!
- I have two jobs but only one has put me on furlough. Does the other job now have to furlough me too?
No, you can be furloughed by one employer whilst continuing to work for another. For example, you may be a dance teacher at the weekends and an office officer during the week. If your office employer put you on furlough, then you can still continue getting paid to teach your dance classes or vice versa.
Please note though that if you have multiple jobs, and they started, originally prior to 28 February 2020 but now updated to the 19th March 2020, you could potentially be furloughed by them all. In this situation each job should be treated separately for the purposes of calculating your furlough wages, so you could potentially receive more than £2,500 per month in total from all your jobs whilst on furlough.
- Can I get another job to top-up my furlough wages?
We appreciate that many people who are furloughed will only be getting 80% of their wages or less if you are also affected by the £2,500 per month cap on wages.
The guidance states that you can start working for a new employer whilst on furlough, but you will need to check your existing employment contract first to make sure that it doesn’t prevent you from working for someone else. We also strongly recommend you check any restrictive covenants too so that you don’t find yourself in breach of your employment contract by working for someone your current employer would consider to be a competitor.
- My employer put me on furlough but now they want me to come back to work even though we are still in ‘lock-down’ – can they do that?
Yes, they can take you off furlough and put you back on again as the business requires. However, each period of furlough must be for a minimum of three weeks at a time.
Sarah Twigger-Thompson – rhw Solicitors llp