Employment & Engagement for Today

Following our recent webinar on we have put together a summary of some of the most frequently asked questions relating to furlough and other issues.

Given that the government guidance and support is emerging and still developing, we don’t have the answers to every question at the moment. We will try to communicate our understanding and interpretation of any new information as and when this is released and try to keep everyone as best informed as we can. If you do have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and keep an eye out for any upcoming webinars as we’ll be running these regularly – our next webinar will be on Tuesday 31st March 2020 at 12.30pm and we’ll be discuss Leadership in our times – Leadership in times of Adversity.


The general principle of this is to do with the status of employment. Furlough has been set up to allow job retention, if there is no work to be done or people can not access work, then there employment is effectively suspended until they can come back to work, when there is work to be done. You can only have one status of employment at any one time; so if you are sick, you are covered by the provisions of the company sick pay policy; if you are on maternity leave, you are on maternity leave; if you are employed, you are working albeit perhaps from home.

So, bear that in mind as you read through these answers….

Q: Can Employees work from home when on furlough?
A: When on furlough employees should refrain from working as the very nature surrounding furlough is that there isn’t enough work for employees. This should not be used to obtain the 80% salary contribution while still allowing employees to work. If there is a reduction in workload for employees but some work available, employers could consider a temporary reduction in hours.

Q: How do we police employees not working from home?
A: It will be difficult to monitor this especially for employees who have IT equipment at home. Expressly telling employees not to work from home and explaining the reasoning behind this is the best thing that employers can do. This should be reiterated in the furlough letter given to employees.

Q: Do employers pay the furloughed employee’s full salary and then claim the 80%? How is this going to be reimbursed?
A: 80% of the employee’s gross monthly salary is calculated and paid through payroll. The employer will then be reimbursed after claiming through the HMRC portal which is still in the production stages. More guidance on this to follow.

Q: If there is nothing in the contract specifically about this would we need to give some form of notice, or could we talk to them and say we would need to do with immediate effect?
A: Given that this is all very new, no exact timeline has been given but employers should ensure that reasonable notice is given. In addition, letters should be issued to all affected employees as this involves changing an employee’s employment status and could have implications on other contractual terms.

Q: Does this apply to all employees regardless of their start date, and including ones that aren’t already furloughed?
A: As we understand the member of staff will be eligible to be a furloughed worker if they were employed before the 29th February 2020. So if start dates are in March, they may not be eligible.

Q: If there are zero-hour staff would this be worked out on a historic average, or what they were scheduled to work?
A: We are still waiting confirmation whether the scheme will extend to those on PAYE with “worker” status, not just those who meet the statutory definition of “employee” but this may involve taking an average of the previous X weeks to determine what they should be paid when on furlough.

Q: Can you ‘furlough’ or ‘lay off’ staff that are currently off on sick leave due to Coronavirus?
A: The employment status of furlough staff is that you are at home and have no work to do, as such 80% of your salary will be reimbursed by the government. The employment status of someone who is on maternity leave is that they are on maternity leave, when they are due to return there can be a consultation that their employment continues in a furlough arrangement. The employment status of someone who is covered by a fit note or current equivalent is that they are covered by the company sick pay policy whatever those provisions are. The employment status of someone who is on annual leave is that they are on annual leave and when expected to return to work they may through consultation move to a furlough arrangement.

Q: Will Company Directors who are also employees of the Company also be eligible for the support scheme?
A: The government support applies to all employees so this would include Directors who are also employees. If Directors receive earnings through other means for example Dividends, these are not eligible to be part of the salary calculations.

Q: If there are zero-hour staff would this be worked out on a historic average, or what they were scheduled to work?
A: We are still waiting confirmation whether the scheme will extend to those on PAYE with “worker” status, not just those who meet the statutory definition of “employee” but this may involve taking an average of the previous number of weeks to determine what they should be paid when on furlough.

Q: I have an apprentice who can not work unsupervised and there is no work for them in the office, does the furlough scheme apply.
A: We believe that apprentices are eligible as it helps to retain their employment and they will return to the workplace.


This information is our understanding at this point of time, however as more and different advice becomes available this position may change and we will update accordingly. This is an evolving and unfolding situation, and we take the view that different measures may need to be applied for different sets of circumstances at an appropriate time. We as a team are available to discuss with you what measures are available to you.

Please contact us on info@gravitatehr.co.uk or directly to your Account Manager.

We are all working from home, keeping in touch with each other and supporting our clients through this very difficult set of circumstances.

#staysafe #staystrong #supporteachother

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