COVID-19 FAQs For Employees

Coronavirus Questions for Employees

Below are the most commonplace questions we are asked around COVID-19 regulations for employees.

Q. What is a furloughed worker (this is also knows as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme)?

If a company cannot maintain their current workforce because their operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), they can furlough employees and apply for a grant that covers 80% of their usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions (up to the level of the minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contribution) on that subsidised furlough pay. This is a temporary scheme in place for 4 months starting from 1 March 2020, but it may be extended if necessary and employers can use this scheme anytime during this period. It is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by corona virus (COVID-19) to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. However, all employers are eligible to claim under the scheme and the government recognises different businesses will face different impacts from coronavirus.

Q. My employer has put me on furlough but I have not agreed and there is nothing in my contract to say the can?

Employers don’t have the unilateral right to withdraw work as this is contractual, if there is no lay off clause at all the employer can not lay off employees.

With no lay off clause the employer should be paying the employee 100% pay. 80% can come from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and 20% from the employer. By not paying the 100% they are unlawfully deducting wages.

The employee must agree to be designated as furlough and to the reduction in pay, this must be done so in writing.

Q. I have been put on to the Furlough scheme and have been told by my employer that my shift allowance will not be included. Is this correct?

If the shift allowance is contractual the guidance states it should be included. If the shift allowance is a regular payment your employer is obliged to pay.

Q. I am pregnant and self isolating, what am I entitled to?

Currently if you have chosen to self isolate your employer is not obliged to pay you and you are not entitled to SSP. If you have been given medical notice to self isolate you will be entitled to SSP. If you are a pregnant person and defined as high risk due to an underlying health condition defined in the government guidelines  you should follow the shielding guidelines. Any person shielding are now eligible to be furloughed by their employee. All employees are entitled to request flexible working if they have worked for their employer for more than 26 weeks. You may request to work from home during this period in which you will be paid full paid. If this is not possible your employee may choose to furlough you. If you are not classed as high risk, you are still classed as vulnerable and advised to follow social distancing measures. If the social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in your workplace your employer should consider all the mitigating actions possible to reduce risks. An employee is protected by law against unfair treatment in the workplace; if your employer does not address the risks and unreasonably insists you go to work they may be considered to be discriminating on the grounds of pregnancy.

Q. I usually pay child maintenance out of my salary, I am now on furlough, will this still be deducted?

Your employer will deduct Income Tax, National Insurance contributions and any other deductions that they would normally make

Q. I am currently still working but live with a person who has been advised to shield as have underlying health issues. I am the only carer, can I be furloughed?

April 2020 no longer requires a person who is shielding or living with someone shielding to be at risk of redundancy to qualify for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Employers have a duty of care and moral responsibility to ensure and support employees abide by the guidance. Where possible, employers can set up their shielding employees or those living with people who are shielding to work from home during the 12 week period. If working from home is not practical, a conversation between yourself and your employer would be the best approach to explain your concerns. Employers must not to discriminate directly or indirectly against an employee who is obligated to shield, including someone who lives with a person required to shield. Employees who are not required to shield or classed as vulnerable who have genuine concern due to their age, an illness or any type of anxiety should have support from employers by offering reasonable adjustments of flexible working or allowing a period of leave. If your employer does not offer you furlough you may choose to self isolate. Unless you are self isolating due to symptoms of Covid – 19 you will not be entitled to SSP.

Shift Allowance on furlough

We are asked specifically about payment allowances for shift workers as part of the furlough scheme, with further information about this in the above questions.

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