The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, more commonly known as the ‘furlough retention scheme’ is a temporary scheme open to all UK employers for at least three months starting from 1 March 2020. 

Our priority remains working closely with our clients and candidates to explore scheme implementation, to ensure everyone is given as much clarity as possible. Please be aware that there are some areas that require further clarity. We are working with key industry bodies and our clients to do as much as we can, as accurately as we can, as quickly as we can. We will keep you informed and update this page with any changes, as they develop.

With so much information out there, we’ve answered some of the most common questions to help you cut through the noise.  

what is the job retention scheme?

There are essentially two schemes - there is the Job Retention Scheme which is what everyone is calling furlough, and then there’s a separate support scheme for anyone who is self-employed. For our PAYE/Umbrellas, the furlough is the relevant scheme.

what is the aim of the scheme?  

The aim is to support as many people as possible who are unable to work during the Coronavirus outbreak - whether due to health & safety or supply & demand. 

what is furlough?

On 20 March 2020 the government announced the launch of its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which is intended to pay employees who would otherwise be redundant or subject to a requirement to remain away from work without pay and are instead designated as ‘furloughed’. The Government will pay 80% of wages (based on an individual’s wage/salary) with a £2,500 cap. 

who is eligible for furlough?

  • PAYE workers 
  • Zero-hour workers
  • Employees 

We always recommend that any workers who are engaged through umbrellas, speak directly to their umbrella provider. 

who is not eligible for furlough?

  • The scheme does not apply to employees or workers who started after the end of February 2020
  • PSCs (they need to furlough themselves through the same scheme)

how long is the furlough scheme available for? 

The scheme runs initially until the end of May, but the Government has said it may extend if necessary. It applies to anyone who is furloughed since 1st March.

how is the 80% calculated?

Gross salary is to be used to calculate the 80%. This will be capped at a maximum of £2,500 per month.  

80% of salary may result in pay below the national minimum wage (NMW), is that illegal?

On this occasion this will be allowed. This is because the individual is not technically working. NMW only applies to working hours.

can workers take on another assignment if they have been furloughed?

No, furloughed workers must NOT undertake any work for the same client during their furlough. They are able to volunteer, and our understanding is they could work in another job if they have one. We await further clarity on this one 

where can I go for more information? 

We recommend you visit the government website - Furlough guidance


This article was created on 27th March 2020. Please remember that government advice can change at pace during this outbreak. Please refer to the government website to ensure you always have access to the most up-to-date guidance.