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The UK’s coronavirus furlough scheme, explained | #employeefraud | #recruitment | #corporatesecurity | #businesssecurity | #


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One in four UK workers, or more than nine million people, are expected to be furloughed during the coronavirus crisis as businesses struggle to survive.

Two-thirds of British businesses have already used the government’s scheme since it was announced last month and one in three companies have put at least 75 per cent of their workforce on furlough, according to a survey published by the British Chamber of Commerce. If this pattern is repeated across the economy, then at least a third of private sector employees (between seven million and ten million people) will be furloughed, according to analysis from think-tank the Resolution Foundation.

Since the coronavirus pandemic caused thousands of businesses across the UK to close overnight in March, millions of people have been left perplexed and concerned about where their next pay cheque will come from. The word “furlough” – which until now has never been used in English employment law – is the go-to term for employers in crisis who want the government to foot their staff salaries during the crisis.

But the speed at which the package was announced last month, and the complexity of it, has left many confused as to where they stand and who qualifies for the scheme. What amounted to a giant safety net for businesses to weather months of crippling reduction in income has large enough holes for tens of thousands of employees to slip through. And the government is constantly changing its own furlough rules. The latest development is significant: on April 15, the government decided to extend the cut-off date to qualify for the scheme from February 28 to March 19, in a move that it expects will benefit 200,000 employees.

To clear things up, here’s what the government’s furlough scheme means, how it can affect you and how long it will last. The government may issue new guidance around furlough schemes: the below information was correct as of April 16.

What does furlough mean?

To furlough means to “lay off or suspend temporarily”, usually without pay. It’s not a recognised term in UK employment law, although it is commonly used in the US, which is why it left many puzzled when the Chancellor used the term in his radical employment plan. Government guidance says someone is furloughed if they remain employed but are not undertaking work.





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