Coronavirus: Your furlough questions answered

A quarter of businesses have temporarily halted trading in response to thecoronavirus outbreak, according to new figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 25% of firms surveyed said they temporarily closed or paused trading.

Firms which have continued to trade furloughed an average of 21% of theirworkforce over the period.

But what exactly is furloughing? And where can you find advice?

If your place of work has shut down or you can't work because of coronavirus, you can carry on getting paid.

Your employer can use the government Coronavirus Job Retention scheme to pay you while there’s no work to do.

Citizens Advice states that the only requirement to qualify for the retention scheme is that you have been on your employer’s payroll on 19 March 2020 and that you are paid through PAYE.

This includes if you’re:

  • A casual worker on a zero-hours contract

  • On a temporary contract

  • An agency worker

  • An apprentice

  • If you stopped working for your employer on or after 28 February 2020, you might still be able to get paid through the scheme if your employer rehires you.

If your employer applies to the scheme, you’ll be paid 80% of your normal pay up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

This will continue until the government ends the scheme or you return to work.

Your employer can claim money to pay you for any time you were sent home after 1 March 2020.

This is called ‘backdating’ your pay. The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme only covers you if you’re not working.

If you’re working from home you should get your normal pay from your employer.

Credit: PA

What about businesses? Is there a criteria they have to fit to claim the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme?

According to Government guidelines, all employers are eligible to claim under the scheme, but you must have:

  • Created and started a PAYE online

  • A UK bank account

  • Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities.

Business will be able to claim a grant from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to cover a majority of employees wages who remain on payroll but who are temporarily not working during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme will run until at least 31 May 2020 and payments can be backdated to 1 March 2020.

The online HMRC service you’ll use to claim is not available yet. It is s scheduled to come into operation on 20 April 2020.

Businesses across the country who have applied for the government’s emergency furlough scheme are set to receive payment by the end of April 2020.

In the meantime, businesses may be eligible for a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan.