April 7, 2020

Government confirms furloughed staff can work and protect pay – comment from Employment lawyers

Government confirms furloughed staff can work and protect pay

The guidance confirms that furloughed staff can work or volunteer for other organisations without losing furloughed pay from their primary employer. It will, we think, throw a lifeline to industry sectors desperate for staff, including social care, healthcare, retail distribution and agriculture.

David Israel, Partner and Employment Lawyer said: “The guidance confirms that workers who have been furloughed can work for other organisations, subject to any restrictions in their employment contracts, without adversely affecting their entitlement to 80% of pay while furloughed by their primary employer. This was not prohibited under previous guidance but has now been expressly confirmed.

“This provides a significant opportunity for furloughed staff (either on a paid or unpaid basis) to help businesses and organisations that need staff to survive the Coronavirus crisis or to replace staff who are off work because they or their family members are in vulnerable groups.

“We can see this confirmation from Government being particularly helpful to the retail distribution, care, and agricultural sectors.”

James Sage, Head of our Social Care team, added: “Care providers have told us that they have lost 25% of their workforce due to the Coronavirus and are in need volunteers and additional staff now. This guidance from Government offers them a real lifeline.

“The challenge, however, will be creating awareness and directing furloughed staff from other industries to vacancies in the care sector. A national social media campaign would be needed to see significant gains, but care providers can also run their own local and regional campaigns.

“Another possible answer is Care Friends, an employee referral app from social care innovator Neil Eastwood, which could be utilised by providers to recruit the friends and family of their workforce who may have been furloughed from their jobs.”

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