As the reality of coronavirus hits businesses across the globe, workplaces have shut their doors with many employees being asked to work from home. This new way of working is simply impossible for a large proportion of the population, and puts immense pressure on their current employer, many of which face cashflow issues due to months of lockdown. 

To support workers and the economy during the crisis, the UK Government offered a solution; the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. To access this grant, employers need to designate ‘furloughed workers’. A term never previously used in UK employment law, people are rightfully confused about the new rules surrounding furloughing their staff

What is furlough?

To cut down on costs, employers have been given the option to furlough some areas of their business. Companies can claim 80% of employee salaries back from the state, up to a value of £2500 per month. The employee must give consent around this process, and they can undertake no work for the company during this period, including any tasks that:

  • Makes money for the organisation or any organisation linked or associated with your organisation
  • Provides services for the organisation or any organisation linked or associated with your organisation

Being furloughed is essentially a change of status within the employment contract. Some employers are choosing to give employees the opportunity to volunteer for furlough, due to childcare restrictions or caring responsibilities. 

Who can be furloughed?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme applies to any employees on the payroll by the 19th March 2020. Previously the key date with 28th February 2020, which left hundreds of thousands of new starters without any support. This was later amended by the government to avoid penalising those that changed jobs in the month before the UK’s Coronavirus outbreak. 

Furlough applies to any employees on the payroll that are: 

  • Full-time employees
  • Part-time employees
  • On agency contracts
  • On flexible or zero-hour contracts
  • Who were made redundant since 28th February 2020

One in four people, around 9 million, are thought to be furloughed from employment in the UK.

Staff training during furlough

Furlough has left many workers with a lot of time on their hands, particularly with the strict rules against working during this period. However, for many businesses, this has offered the perfect time for training. Some employers have used the furlough scheme as an opportunity to retrain their staff, rather than make them redundant, to prepare for an eventual return to normality.

The Government advice specifically states: 

“Furloughed employees can engage in training, as long as in undertaking the training the employee does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of their organisation or a linked or associated organisation. Furloughed employees should be encouraged to undertake training.”

Particularly for the hospitality industry, many who are furloughed as the sector grinds to a temporary halt, training staff now can help with a quicker reopening and safer working environment in the COVID-19 aftermath.

Shield Safety Group are providing highly discounted eLearning courses for those businesses that want to take advantage of a quiet period to undertake some staff training. We know this is a difficult time for many in terms of cash flow, so we have eight eLearning courses on offer for only £96, a saving of 40%. 

Find out more information about our discounted training bundles, or any of our free resources, by visiting our COVID-19 resource page.