The pandemic’s adverse effect is crippling the economy, the government, and the country’s whole workforce. With over three months under community quarantine, businesses have no choice but to cease operations and resort to employee lay-offs or furlough, sometimes both.
As of date, there are approximately 800,000 enterprises who opted to furlough workers to keep their business from falling. Due to this, over 8.7 million workers are temporarily laid off from their work, rendering nearly a quarter of the UK’s workforce, technically, unemployed. With the rampant furloughing in the industry, workers must be informed of what furloughing entails and their rights and options during the raging crisis.
Furlough is a cost-saving strategy that puts workers on a temporary and unpaid leave of absence. Technically, they still have their jobs and work positions; a furlough prevents them from actually working and getting paid. The good news is that it is only a temporary arrangement. Firms will allow employees to resume their work gradually if economic and business circumstances get better.
Furloughed workers cannot render their services to their company. You cannot do any work that can potentially contribute to your company’s money-making streams. Employers cannot ask staff to assist their firm or ones that are affiliated or linked to them.
Furloughs last for a minimum of three weeks. One period can follow another if business circumstances do not improve. For the federal government, furloughs will cease once Congress approves the budget of your government agency.
Do These Employees Get Paid?
In general, furloughed workers are not paid. The essence of furloughing is to cut business costs and expenses, using those resources to keep the company afloat. Most organizations, such as the federal government, suspend employees’ work and wage during furlough periods.
Other organizations may opt to reduce the number of working hours, especially for non-exempt employees. In some cases, essential employees—those in the health, food, safety, and protection sector—are still required to show up for work despite an ensuing furlough, rendering their services to their agencies without the promise of a wage.
What Are My Rights As An Employee?
Employers are still obligated to continue paying for employee contributions and benefits such as health and life insurances during these times. Workers retain their eligibility to statutory sick pay, their redundancy rights, as well as their right to receive due process when employers lay them off permanently.
Statutory annual leaves are also left unscathed. Employees may carry over unused leaves into the next two employment years of the employee. Both part-time and full-time employees are entitled to receive an average of 5.6 weeks of paid leave.
Workers are allowed to look for new employment, volunteer at organizations, and attend professional training and seminars during temporary leaves. However, if an agreement was struck, then workers should abide by those regulations. Furloughed labourers also have the right to apply for unemployment benefits offered by their respective states.
Typically, labourers under temporary lay-offs do not get paid. However, special cases call for special measures. With millions of furloughed workers, the government created an initiative to help citizens get back to their feet.
This initiative mandates the government to pay furloughed employees 80% of their salary despite being on mandatory leave. They will cover these expenses to help individuals survive the sudden recession amidst the pandemic. The program, called the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, aims to support both employees and employers by continuing to pay their wages. Thus, avoiding redundancies, keeping their staff, and helping companies to start again.