Since the COVID-19 outbreak, employers have been forced into difficult conditions concerning which employees to keep and which to furlough. The UK government created the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), allowing companies to keep essential staff required to bring their businesses back to scale in the future. Employers can claim part of their employees’ wages through an online portal. Though the CJRS has recently been extended until the end of October, furloughed employees are seeking other jobs to make ends meet. This article is a guide to whether furloughed employees can get another job or not.
What does getting furloughed mean?
If your employer furloughs you, you are still employed by them. However, you will not be able to work for them. This means you will not be providing any services or generating revenue for your employer.
The furlough period will last for a minimum of three consecutive weeks. Employers can furlough their employees more than once. It can be issued right after the existing one ends.
Bear in mind that this does not stop your employer from making you redundant. However, your rights as an employee will remain unchanged. Hence, employees will have redundancy rights.
What do furloughed employees get?
The CJRS will provide up to 80 percent of employees’ earnings up to a cap of £2,500 per month. Bonuses will not be included in this pay. Furthermore, taxes and national insurance will be deducted.
Can furloughed employees get another job?
Whilst on furlough, your employer cannot stop you from doing another job. However, you must refer to your employment contract. Since you are still employed by your current employer, you are liable to abide by its contractual terms. Most employment contracts specify if employees can do other jobs during employment or not. If doing another job is not violating your current contractual terms, you are free to work for another employer. Otherwise, you might have to reach out to your company’s HR department request a re-negotiation of the employment contract. In these trying times there is an extra onus on companies to cooperate with furloughed employees.
Alternatively, you might seek work outside the working hours of your current employment. While being furloughed may let you do another job, you will have to return to your current employer when they ask of you. Moreover, before starting another job, ensure that you file the starter checklist form with your new employer.
Weekend jobs do not count as a breach of contractual terms.
Remember that doing another job while being furloughed will not affect the grant that can be claimed under the CJRS.
Since being furloughed means not doing any work generating revenue for employers, anything outside this ambit is allowed. Furloughed employees can take part in volunteer work, such as trainings. The National Living Wage pays certain required trainings. Furloughed employees will still be eligible for such payment even if it amounts to be more than 80 percent of their subsided wage.
Furloughed employees can also take part in union and non-union representatives’ duties and activities. These will be limited to the purposes of individual or collective representation of employees.
All volunteer work is required to be undertaken according to public health guidance.
Seeking Universal Credit
Being furloughed does not stop you from seeking support from welfare systems like Universal Credit. This is a system of payments in monthly installments. The eligibility criteria for application include:
- a low income
- at least 18 years of age
- residence in the UK
People under the State Pension age may also be eligible to avail Universal Credit.
Furloughed employees can do other jobs simultaneously; given that it does not violate their current contractual terms. All other work including volunteer trainings are welcome. Remember that providing services to furloughing employer and generating revenue for them is not allowed under CJRS.
Getting another job will not affect current employee rights. Lastly, furloughed employees can also take support of benefits provided under Universal Credit.