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Zero Hours and Furlough

By 28th May 2020

If you have any zero hours employees or are, indeed, one then the following should answer some of the commonly asked questions


1. Can a zero hours employee be furloughed?

Yes, any employee can be furloughed as long as their work has been severely affected by COVID-19, they are on PAYE and you hired them before 28 February 2020.

Employees can be on any type of contract, whether that be zero hours, variable hours, part-time or full time.

2. Is permission required to furlough a Zero Hours employee?

Yes, it is best to discuss decisions first and make sure to have a mutual agreement before starting on a period of furlough.

Make sure this decision is in writing and is clear that the furlough status is only temporary.

3. All eligible workers are entitled to 80% of their wage as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS). How is that calculated for zero-hours workers?

If pay varies because of a zero-hours contract, then the 80% limit will be based on the same month’s earning from a previous year, or average monthly pay during the 2019-20 tax year - whichever is highest.

4. What if the zero-hours employee has another job?

If the zero-hours employee currently has more than one employer, they can be put on furlough by one employer and continue to work for another, if it is allowed in their employment contract.

If the other employer also puts the employee on furlough, the employee will get separate payments from each one.

The 80% of normal wage up to a £2,500 monthly cap applies to each job.

5. Is it Okay for zero hours employees to carry out training and volunteer work while on furlough?

Yes, all employees can carry out training and volunteer work whilst on furlough as long as they are not providing services to, or making money for, your company.

But keep in mind that if the employee is earning less than the National Minimum Wage (NMW) while they are on furlough and they spend time in training which attracts the minimum wage entitlement, the shortfall for the time they spent training will need to be made up by the employer.

Zero Hours and Furough

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