UK: Furlough Q&A - March 2020
Updated: Apr 20
This information is taken following a webinar with ACAS today 30 03 2020. It is not intended to be legal advice, and is subject to government guidance updates.
Q: If an employee takes annual leave during furlough period what are they entitled to be paid for that period;
A: Normal pay for any holiday period.
Q: Does holiday accrue during furlough period?
A: Yes normal holiday entitlement accrues during furlough.
Q: Does this include bank holidays?
Q: Can an employer enforce holiday to be taken during furlough leave?
A: Yes, as long as they provide double the amount of notice that they want an employee to take. Example, you want an employee to take 1 week’s leave (5 days) you have to provide 10 working days notice, and holiday is paid at their normal rate of pay.
Q: Can employers cancel pre-booked holiday?
A: Yes an employer can cancel employees leave to cover others who may be self isolating and therefore needed to cover operational needs. However, they will have to provide notice of the period. For example, if they want to cancel an employee’s 1 week holiday, they need to provide 1 week’s notice to do so.
Q: Can an employee request to have their holiday cancelled?
A: Holiday cancellation requests should be considered by the employer, and in particular now the government have relaxed the Working Time Directive that the statutory (4 weeks’) leave can be carried over for the next 2 years. The remaining 1.6 (bank holidays) can only be carried forward for 1 year if agreed by the employer. Any enhanced holiday that the employer provides is to be taken during their normal holiday year.
Q: Can employees put in a holiday request during furlough leave?
A: Yes, and their normal rate of pay would apply for the holiday period.
Q: Does self isolation supersede holidays?
A: Sickness/self isolation can replace holidays, and employees should provide evidence to request that their booked holiday is cancelled and therefore subject to company enhanced and SSP.
Q: Can an employer “freeze” their enhanced sick pay?
A: Yes, but you would need to inform/consult with staff that this is your intention, and this should be the same application applied for all, to minimise any claims for discrimination.
Q: Can “shielded” staff be furloughed?
A: Yes they can for the 12 weeks’ and paid as a furloughed worker.
Q: If an employee is shielding due to a vulnerable person, can they be furloughed?
A: Yes they can.
Q: We have staff on self isolation, or sick, can they be furloughed now?
A: Employees can be furloughed at the end of their sick period?
Q: We have a number of staff on probation, can we “freeze” the probation period if they are furloughed?
A: Yes, if your contract allows probations to be extended, but regardless write to the employee to inform that during any period of furlough the probation period is frozen.
Q: We have a number of staff working from home, but how do we ensure that their output is maintained?
A: Be clear on any performance requirements, but inform those who have child care for example to cover, that their working hours can be flexible to work around their children. Example- that they work earlier in the morning or in the evening to make up any hours that they are contractually obligated to do. Investigate those who are not reaching any performance standards as you would if they were working from the office.
Q: What TOFD (time off for dependents) entitlement is there?
A: Check your own policy, but in the main TOFD is unpaid. The government have informed everyone not to let grandparents care for your children and they have the statutory right for time off to deal with an emergency, but not the right to be paid.
Q: Can we furlough employees who are currently stuck abroad?
A: Yes you can.