Can I take on other work while I’m being furloughed? We answer your job concerns – The Sun

MOST of us had probably never heard of “furloughing” until a few weeks ago.

The process, which sees workers temporarily laid off while the Government covers most of their salary, was launched on Monday.

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British Airways has furloughed more than 30,000 staff – or 80 per cent of its workforce. And easyJet has done it with almost half its employees.

Other firms to furlough all or part of their workforce include bakery Greggs, fast-food giant McDonald’s and Topshop owner Arcadia.

Over the past month, several questions have cropped up over how exactly the scheme will work. Here is my guide to those key concerns.

Q: My employer is furloughing me. Is that bad?

A: No. It means they want to keep you on but can’t keep paying you due to business losses caused by coronavirus.

Over the next couple of months you won’t be working but the Government will pay 80 per cent of your salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

Your employer may choose to make up the difference but is not obliged to.

Non-discretionary com-mission is included in your earnings and the Government will also cover your pension and NI contributions.

These payments can be backdated to March 1 for a minimum of three weeks up to four months.

Full-time, part-time and flexible, zero-hour or agency contract workers can all benefit. But they must have been registered with HMRC on the firm’s payroll on March 19.

Make sure your furlough arrangements are confirmed in writing, including when the scheme is being applied to you and how much money you will get.

Q: My employer made me redundant. Should I have been furloughed?

A: If you were on your firm’s payroll on February 28 or on or before March 19 but then was let go due to coronavirus, you can ask to be rehired and put on furlough. The same applies if you left the job voluntarily.

But it might not save you in the long-term from redundancy, as many employers are expected to cut staff after the furlough period ends to reduce costs.

Q: What if they offer me reduced hours instead?

A: If you take reduced hours, you can’t be furloughed and will be paid less.

It is generally better if companies furlough some employees while keeping others at full pay rather than everyone working limited hours for less money.

As to who gets furloughed, that is up to your employer to decide. Many workers will find themselves unable to work anyway, due to childcare issues from school closures.

Under these circumstances you can ask to be covered by the scheme.

If you are self-isolating, you will get sick pay rather than furlough payments.

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Q: Can I take on other work while I am furloughed?

A: There is nothing to say you cannot work elsewhere — but you should speak to your employer first before taking on new work.

Doing so might be in breach of your contract.

Q: What if I am self-employed?

A: There is a different rescue package for self-employed workers. If you are a self-employed worker, you can get a grant worth 80 per cent of your average monthly profits.

These are worth up to a maximum of £2,500 a month, covering March, April and May. But they will not arrive until the start of June at the earliest.

The scheme is open to those who earn under £50,000 a year. At least half their income must have come from self-employment as registered on the 2018-19 tax return filed in January.

Q: If I run my own business, can I furlough myself?

A: Yes — but it only applies to what you pay yourself through PAYE.

One issue facing the directors of limited companies is that many pay themselves through divi-dends, which are not covered by the self-employed support scheme.

Directors who furlough the PAYE element of their pay will also be unable to work for their business (other than statutory duties as a director).

Q: I run a business and need to apply to furlough staff. What do I do?

A: Some accountants charge £250 per claim but if you run your own small business you can claim using the Government’s online portal.

You need to make sure you have the right financial details to hand.


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