All your furlough questions answered – from maternity pay to whether you can include commission in your claim – The Sun
It applies to anyone on their company PAYE payroll on or before March 19, 2020, but crucially HMRC must have been notified of this on an RTI submission on or before this date.
To help you navigate this newly founded furlough scheme, we round-up and answer key questions from readers below.
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You can also read our guide to the furlough basics for more information.
Can agency workers be furloughed?
Agency workers can be furloughed, including where they are employed by umbrella companies.
Furlough should be agreed between yourself and the agency or with the umbrella company if it's the one that operates your PAYE.
The government also advises discussing furlough with the agency's clients where relevant.
As with employees, you can't work for the agency that has furloughed you while you're on furlough, and that includes performing work for the agency’s clients.
Can nursery workers be furloughed?
The situation is a little complicated for nursery workers as it depends how much funding for the nursery comes from the government and how much comes privately eg, from parents.
HMRC says employers continuing to earn money from public funding – including non-public sector employees – shouldn't be furloughing staff.
The only exception is where employers have experienced "significant disruption" to their income, staff can't be redeployed, and where staff would otherwise be made redundant.
In terms of nurseries specifically, the Department for Education says the number of staff that can be furloughed must be equivalent to the amount of non-government funded income the nursery gets.
This means if a nursery receives 60 per cent funding – for example, through early years entitlement – and 40 per cent from parent fees, they can only furlough 40 per cent of staff.
The government is continuing to pay early years entitlements for key workers' children who are still attending nurseries.
See our full article on nursery workers rights for more information.
Can apprentices be furloughed?
Yes. Apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and they can continue to train while furloughed.
But even on furlough, employers need to ensure apprentices are paid at least the apprenticeship minimum wage or the correct minimum wage for their age.
Apprentice minimum wage starts at £4.15 an hour but increases with age and once you're out of your first year of training.
So where furlough covers 80 per cent of salaries up to £2,500 a month, your boss is required to pay any shortfall between that and the minimum wage you're on.
How does the furlough scheme work?
ANY UK organisation with employees can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.
It's up to your place of work to apply to the scheme, meaning you won't need to contact the government yourself.
To access the scheme, your employer must comply with the following:
- Designate employees who cannot do their jobs due to the coronavirus measures put in place by the government
- Notify those employees of their new "furloughed" status
- Submit information to HMRC about furloughed employees to set up a system for reimbursement and about existing systems that will facilitate payments
To be furloughed, you must have been on a payroll on March 19.
Although furlough leave can be backdated to March 1, the portal your employer will use to register your furloughed status only launched today.
Consequently, you will not be paid until the end of this month.
Workers can ask previous employers to rehire and furlough them, even if they left for another job, but firms don't have to do this.
Is there an age limit on who can be furloughed?
No, there's no age limit on who can be furloughed .
This means kids with Saturday jobs could potentially be furloughed too.
Can I be furloughed if I'm on maternity leave?
Yes. If you're already on or go on maternity leave it's likely you're getting or will get at least the government's statutory maternity pay.
The same goes for those on adoption pay, paternity pay, and shared parental pay.
These payments will still be made in full as normal even if you're currently on or go furlough.
If you receive extra pay from your employer that goes above and beyond statutory pay, your employer can furlough you and claim 80 per cent of these costs for you.
If you're pregnant just bear in mind your employer shouldn't put you on sick leave instead of furlough.
Employees returning to work from leave who then get furloughed should have their furlough pay based on their salary before they went on leave, not on their salary while on leave.
Can I be furloughed if I'm on unpaid leave?
If you started unpaid leave after February 28, 2020, you can be put on furlough instead.
If you went on unpaid leave on or before February 28, you can't be furloughed until the date on which it was agreed you would return from unpaid leave.
Can I be furloughed if I'm on sick leave?
If you're on on sick leave or self-isolating as a result of coronavirus you're entitled to statutory sick pay.
But your employer can furlough you instead in which case you'll get your furlough wages instead of statutory sick pay – you can't get both.
Your boss can also furlough you if you're on long-term sick leave or if you're shielding due to coronavirus – it's down to your employer to decide.
For those who become sick while on furlough, you must be paid at least statutory sick pay but it's up to your employer whether they move you onto this scheme or keep you on furlough at your furlough rate.
Again, you can't get both at the same time.
Can I be furloughed if I've been working for less than a year?
Yes, if you were on your company PAYE payroll on or before March 19, 2020, and this was notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before this date, you can be furloughed.
It may be, however, that what you're paid under furlough is calculated different depending on whether you're paid a salary or whether your wages vary.
Can I be furloughed if I can't work as I'm looking after children off school?
If you are unable to work, including from home, due to caring responsibilities arising from coronarivus, such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing, or caring for a vulnerable individual in your household, you should speak to your employer.
They don't have to furlough you but they could decide to do so.
How long do furlough payments last?
The furlough scheme opened for employers to submit applications on April 20, 2020.
Payments can be backdated to March 1, 2020 and the scheme is currently due to end on June 30, 2020.
But the government says this may be extended if necessary.
Can I be taken off furlough and then put back on it?
Yes, as long as you're on furlough for a minimum period of three consecutive weeks at a time.
Can bonuses, overtime, and commission be included in furlough payments?
Yes, if it's written into your contract that your employer has to pay them.
HMRC says the following scenarios count towards your income under furlough:
- regular wages
- non-discretionary overtime
- non-discretionary fees
- non-discretionary commission payments
- piece rate payments – where you're paid per item manufactured, for example
But you can't include the following payments made at the discretion of your employer or your client in your furlough wages:
- discretionary bonuses
- discretionary commission payments
- non-cash payments
- non-monetary benefits, such as benefits in kind eg, a company car, and salary sacrifice schemes eg, pension contributions, that reduce an employees’ taxable pay
See our furlough and commission story and our how furlough pay is calculated story for more information.
How does furlough affect Universal Credit and other benefits?
If you currently receive Universal Credit and you've been put on furlough, you'll continue to get it.
You also don't need to inform Universal Credit that you are now furloughed.
HMRC will instead inform Universal Credit of your reduced take home pay, meaning your benefit payment will be adjusted automatically.
Similarly, if you get working tax credits you don't need to tell HMRC if you are furloughed.
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This will be done behind the scenes and your tax credit payment will be adjusted automatically.
If you income drops, in both scenarios it's likely you'll now get more under your benefits.
See how furlough affects your benefits and Universal Credit payments for more information.
Note that benefit payments can't be used as part of your income to calculate furlough payments as they're non-taxable.
How does furlough affect child maintenance payments?
Furlough doesn't have an automatic impact on child maintenance payments.
But if being placed on furlough means your income has dropped, you should contact the child maintenance service so your payments can be reviewed and reduced where necessary.
See our child maintenance story for more on this.
Can I be made to pay back furlough payments?
No. Employers claim furlough from the government and then pass it on to employees – there shouldn't be any reason for you to hand back payments.
Here's how to claim if you're an employer.
Can I be made redundant while furloughed or as soon as it ends?
Yes, you can be made redundant while on furlough or as soon as your furlough ends.
But in both scenarios companies still need to follow the usual redundancy rules, which includes giving a notice period and consulting with staff before a final decision is reached.
What if my boss if refusing to furlough me?
Decisions around whether to offer to furlough someone are down to the individual company – the government can't force companies to furlough you.
So while you have the right to go to an employment tribunal if your company is treating you unfairly you may struggle to argue your case given furlough isn't mandatory.
Consider getting free advice from Acas on your situation.
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