Furlough (or leave of absence): quick Q&A

There are just a few chinks of light in the cascade of bad news surrounding COVID-19. Among them are the steps the Government is taking to support businesses.

Further messages were announced on Friday 20th March, including a new scheme whereby employees who might have been made redundant can be furloughed instead. Here are some of the questions our HR services team have been receiving from clients.

What does ‘furlough’ mean?

This is an American term for something we would more usually describe as an ‘authorised leave of absence’ or ‘sabbatical’.

What help is on offer?

The Government will reimburse 80% of the furloughed employee’s wages, up to £2.5k per employee per month.

How long could it last?

An employee would be put on ‘furlough leave’ for a period of time, during which they wouldn’t work for you at all. The scheme is open for 12 weeks from 1st March 2020 initially.

Can I get this money if they work reduced hours?

It would appear you can only furlough someone for all their hours, not part of the time.

How do I select who should be put in furlough?

Theoretically putting people on furlough is instead of redundancy, so you should use a redundancy selection process.

What if I have already made someone redundant?

It would appear you can re-employ them, as if the redundancy hadn’t happened, and they can then be furloughed. Of course, the ex-employee has to agree to this.

Further questions?

We’re supporting our clients daily as they grapple with this fast-changing situation. If you need more support from HR experts during this time, please get in touch.