Find out if you’re eligible, and how much your employer can claim if they put you on temporary leave ('furlough') because of coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll if they’re unable to operate or have no work for you to do because of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is known as being ‘on furlough’.
Your employer can apply for a grant to cover part of your regular wages for any time spent on furlough through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, up to a monthly cap of £2,500. The monthly cap is reduced in proportion to hours actually worked.
You’ll still be paid by your employer and pay taxes from your income. You cannot undertake work for your employer during time which you are recorded as being on furlough.
From 1 July 2020, employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim a grant for the hours not worked. For your employer to be eligible to claim from this date they must have previously submitted a claim for you before 31 July in relation to a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June.
This may differ if you were returning from statutory parental leave or are a returning military reservist.
From 1 August 2020, your employer will be asked to contribute towards the cost of your wages to ensure you continue to receive at least 80% of your wages whilst on furlough. Find out more information on how the amount of grant available through Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing.
The scheme is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus to retain their employees and protect the UK economy. However, all employers are eligible to claim under the scheme and the government recognises that different businesses will face different impacts from coronavirus.
Check if you’re eligible
Your employer is responsible for claiming through the Job Retention Scheme on your behalf and for paying you what you’re entitled to. You cannot apply for the scheme yourself.
Your employer should discuss with you and make any changes to the employment contract by agreement. When your employer is making decisions in relation to the process, including deciding who to offer furlough to, equality and discrimination laws will apply in the usual way.
To be eligible for the grant, your employer must have confirmed to you (or reached collective agreement with a trade union) in writing that you have been furloughed. You do not have to provide a written response. They must:
- make sure that the agreement is consistent with employment, equality and discrimination laws
- keep a written record of the agreement for 5 years.
Contact your employer if you do not receive confirmation.
From 1 July, your employer will:
- only be able to claim for employees who have previously had a claim submitted for them in relation to a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June
- be able to flexibly furlough employees – this means they can bring employees back to work for any amount of time, and any shift pattern
- still be able to claim the furlough grant for the hours their flexibly furloughed employees do not work, compared to usual hours they would have worked in that period.
If your employer flexibly furloughs you, they’ll need to agree this with you (or reach collective agreement with a trade union) and confirm the new furlough arrangement with you in writing. They’ll need to:
- make sure that the agreement is consistent with employment, equality and discrimination laws
- keep a written record of the agreement for 5 years
- keep records of how many hours you work and the number of hours you are furloughed (i.e. not working).
They do not need to place all their employees on furlough, and they can continue to fully furlough employees if they wish. You cannot undertake any work for your employer during time that is recorded as you being on furlough.
If you are concerned that your employer has not claimed on your behalf, you should speak to your employer. HMRC will not be able to provide information about individual applications.
Any employer with a UK payroll and a UK bank account will be able to claim, but you must have:
- had a claim submitted for you before 31 July in relation to a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June. Your employer will have until 31 July to make any claims for claim periods up to 30 June
You can be on any type of contract, including a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract. You can be furloughed under the scheme if you are a foreign national.
This scheme does not apply if you are self-employed or to any income from self-employment. You may qualify for support under the Self-employment income support scheme.
If you’re on sick leave or self-isolating because of coronavirus, speak to your employer about whether you’re eligible to be furloughed – you should get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) as a minimum while you are on sick leave or self-isolating. Your employer can continue to fully furlough you from 1 July so long as they have previously furloughed you and submitted a claim for you in relation to a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks anytime between 1 March and 30 June. You will no longer receive sick pay, but should be treated as any other furloughed employee.
If you are shielding in line with public health guidance or required to stay home due to an individual in your household shielding and are unable to work from home, then your employer can continue to furlough you from 1 July so long as your employer submitted a claim for you in relation to a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June. This means the last day you could have started furlough for the first time was 10 June.
If you are unable to work, including from home, due to caring responsibilities arising from coronavirus, such as caring for children who are at home as a result of school and childcare facilities closing, or caring for a vulnerable individual in your household, then your employer can continue to furlough you from 1 July so long as your employer submitted a claim for you in relation to a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June.
If you’re on a fixed term contract
From 1 July you are eligible to be claimed for under the scheme, if your employer has previously submitted a claim for you in relation to a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June.
If you were on a fixed term contract your employer could have re-employed you and put you on furlough as long as they previously submitted a claim for you by 31 July, in relation to a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June.
If your fixed term contract has not already expired, your employer can extend or renew it.
If you currently have more than one employer
You can be put on furlough by one employer and continue to work for another. If you’re put on furlough by more than one employer, you’ll receive separate payments from each employer. The £2,500 monthly cap applies to each job.
If you have had multiple employers over the past year, have only worked for one of them at any one time, and are being furloughed by your current employer, you cannot be furloughed by your previous employer.
If you are on tax credits
If you currently receive tax credits you should check to see what changes you have to report.
If you are on Universal Credit
If you’re earning less because you’re on furlough, your Universal Credit payment might change - find out how earnings affect your payments.
If you are on maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave or parental bereavement leave
The normal rules for maternity and other forms of parental leave and pay apply.
Although, your employer may need to calculate your average weekly earnings, if you were put on furlough and then started leave on or after 25 April 2020 for:
Your employer can claim through the scheme for enhanced (earnings related) contractual pay for employees who qualify for either:
- maternity pay
- adoption pay
- paternity pay
- shared parental pay
- parental bereavement pay
If you have returned from maternity, shared parental, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave after 10 June, you can still be furloughed, even if you are being furloughed for the first time provided:
- your employer has previously submitted a claim for any other employee in their organisation in relation to a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June
- you started maternity, shared parental, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave before 10 June and have returned from that leave after 10 June
- your employer included you on an RTI submission on or before 19th March 2020
If you’re getting Maternity Allowance
If you’re getting Maternity Allowance while you’re on maternity leave, you cannot get furlough pay at the same time.
If you have agreed to be put on furlough, you must contact Jobcentre Plus to stop your Maternity Allowance payments.
If you agree to go on furlough and end your maternity leave early, you will need to give your employer at least 8 weeks’ notice and you will not be eligible for furlough pay until the end of the 8 weeks.
If you are pregnant and about to start maternity leave
You should start maternity leave as normal. If your earnings have reduced because you were off sick before your maternity leave started, this may affect your Statutory Maternity Pay.
If your earnings have reduced because you were put on furlough and then you started family-related statutory leave on or after 25 April 2020, the amount you receive in pay should not be affected. If you started family-related statutory pay before 25 April 2020, your entitlement may be affected. The same rules apply to adoption pay, paternity pay, shared parental pay and parental bereavement pay.
If you are a military reservist returning to work after 10 June
Your employer can furlough you if you are a military reservist returning to work after a period of mobilisation after 10 June, even if you are being furloughed for the first time.
Your employer may do this as long as:
- they have already claimed for another employee for a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks, between 1 March 2020 and 30 June
- you were on a period of mobilisation that started before 10 June and returned from that mobilisation after 10 June
- they included you on an Real Time Information submission on or before 19th March 2020
If you’re employed by an individual
If you’re employed by an individual (for example, as a nanny) then your employer can furlough you under the scheme if you are paid through PAYE and were on their payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means your employer must have made an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of you to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020.
If you’re an apprentice
Apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and continue to train.
You must be paid at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage/National Living Wage/National Minimum Wage as appropriate for all of the time you spend training, even if this is more than 80% of your normal wages.
If you’re a supply teacher
Supply teachers are eligible for the scheme in the same way as other employees and can continue to be claimed for during school holiday periods provided that the usual eligibility criteria are met.
If you’re a public sector employee
Where organisations receive public funding for staff costs we expect employers to pay staff as usual – and correspondingly not furlough them.
Only organisations that are not fully funded by public grants should consider accessing the scheme. Your employer should contact their sponsor department or respective administration for specific queries.
Other specific categories
You may be eligible to be furloughed, and receive a grant of 80% of your regular wages up to a monthly cap of £2,500, if you are paid via PAYE and are in one of the following categories.
- You are an agency worker
- You are a company director
- You are a contractor with public sector engagements in scope of IR35 off-payroll working rules (IR35)
- You are a salaried member of a Limited Liability Partnership
- You are a Limb (b) worker
- You are an office holder
You can continue to be furloughed from 1 July so long as your employer previously submitted a claim for you by 31 July in relation to a furlough period of at least 3 consecutive weeks taking place any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June.
Detail on how this scheme can apply to you is set out at the end of this guidance.
How much you’ll get
Your employer can apply for a grant to cover part of your regular wages, up to a monthly cap of £2,500. The amount of grant available will depend on the month that your employer is claiming for.
From 1 August 2020, your employer will be asked to contribute towards the cost of your wages. Find out more information on how the amount of grant available through Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing.
If you are fully or flexibly furloughed, your employer:
- will pay you at least 80% of your regular wages, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, for the hours you are furloughed (not working)
- can choose to pay you more than the 80% minimum furlough amount - but they do not have to
- will pay you in full for any hours you do work whilst on flexible furlough
Your employer must pay you all the grant they receive for your gross pay in the form of money. Your employer cannot enter into any transaction with you which reduces the amount you receive. This includes any administration charge, fees or other costs in connection with your employment.
Where you have authorised your employer to make deductions from your salary, these deductions can continue while you are furloughed provided that these deductions are not charges, fees or other costs in connection with your employment. You’ll still pay Income Tax, National Insurance contributions, Student Loan repayments and any other deductions (such as pension contributions) from your wage.
How your monthly wages are calculated
If you are a full-time or part-time employee on a salary, then the amount your employer will claim will be based on 80% of your salary. You should speak to your employer for further information about how they will calculate this.
If your pay varies and you’ve been employed (or engaged by an employment business in the case of agency workers) for a full year, employers will calculate the claim based on the higher of either:
- the amount you earned in the same month last year
- an average of your monthly earnings from tax year 2019 to 2020
If your pay varies and you’ve been employed for less than a year, employers will claim for an average of your regular monthly wages since you started work.
If you have been working for less than a month, your employer will pro-rata your earnings from that month. The amounts your employer should use when calculating 80% of your wages, are made up of regular payments that they must make, including:
- regular wages they pay you
- non-discretionary payments for overtime
- non-discretionary fees
- non-discretionary commission payments
- piece rate payments
They cannot include the following when calculating your wages:
- payments made at their or a client’s discretion - where they or a client was under no contractual obligation to pay you, including:
- any tips, including those distributed through troncs
- discretionary bonuses
- discretionary commission payments
- non-cash payments
- non-monetary benefits like benefits in kind (such as a company car) and benefits received under salary sacrifice schemes (including pension contributions) that reduce your taxable pay
HMRC agrees that COVID-19 counts as a life event that could warrant changes to salary sacrifice arrangements, if the relevant employment contract is updated accordingly. If you want to switch out of a salary sacrifice scheme as a result of COVID-19, you should speak to your employer.
How your usual hours are calculated
If you have been flexibly furloughed, your employer will need to work out your usual hours and record the actual hours you work to calculate your furloughed hours for the claim period.
Your employer should work out your usual hours for each pay period using the calculation work out usual hours for employees who work variable hours if either:
- you are not contracted to a fixed number of hours
- your pay depends on the number of hours you work
Otherwise, they should use the calculation work out your employee’s usual hours for an employee who is contracted for a fixed number of hours.
Whilst furloughed you will continue to accrue leave as per your employment contract. You can agree with your employer to vary holiday pay entitlement as part of the furlough agreement, however almost all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks of statutory paid annual leave each year which they cannot go below.
You can take holiday whilst on furlough. If you are flexibly furloughed then any hours taken as holiday during the claim period should be counted as furloughed hours rather than working hours. Your employer should not put you on furlough for a period just because you are on holiday for that period. Working Time Regulations (WTR) require holiday pay to be paid at your normal rate of pay or, where your rate of pay varies, calculated on the basis of the average pay you received in the previous 52 working weeks. Therefore, if you take holiday while on furlough, your employer should pay you your usual holiday pay in accordance with the WTR. Employers will be obliged to pay the additional amounts over the grant, though will have the flexibility to restrict when leave can be taken if there is a business need. This applies for both the furlough period and the recovery period.
If you usually work bank holidays then your employer can agree that this is included in the grant payment. If you usually take the bank holiday as leave then your employer would either have to top up your pay to your usual holiday pay, or give you a day of holiday in lieu.
Pay for time spent training
Individuals are only entitled to the National Living Wage, National Minimum Wage or Apprentices Minimum Wage for the hours they are working or treated as working under minimum wage rules.
Time spent training whilst furloughed is treated as working time for the purposes of the minimum wage calculations and must be paid at the appropriate minimum wage rate. Your employer will need to ensure that the wages and furlough payment provide sufficient monies to cover all working time including these training hours. Where the pay is less than the appropriate minimum wage entitlement, your employer will need to pay additional amounts to ensure at least the appropriate minimum wage is paid for both working time and 100% of the training time whilst furloughed.
Returning from family related statutory leave
Family related statutory leave includes maternity leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave, adoption leave, parental bereavement leave and unpaid parental leave.
If you’re on fixed pay and are a full or part time employee who has been furloughed on return from family related statutory leave, your employer should calculate the grant against your salary, before tax, not the pay you received whilst on family related statutory leave.
If your pay varies and you are furloughed on your return from statutory leave, your employer should calculate the grant using the highest of either:
- 80% of the same month’s wages from the previous year (up to a maximum of £2,500 a month)
- 80% of the average monthly wages for the tax year 2019 to 2020 (up to a maximum of £2,500 a month)
Employees returning to work after being on sick pay
If you’re on fixed pay and are returning to work after time off sick, your employer will calculate how much you’ll receive against your salary, before tax, not the pay you received whilst off sick.
If you’re on variable pay and returning to work after time off sick, your employer will calculate how much you’ll get using the highest of either:
- 80% of the same month’s wages from the previous year (up to a maximum of £2,500 a month)
- 80% of the average monthly wages for the tax year 2019 to 2020 (up to a maximum of £2,500 a month)
While you’re on furlough
During hours you are on furlough you will not be able to work for your employer. Your employer cannot ask you to do any work for them that:
- makes money for your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
- provides services to your employer or a company linked or associated to your employer
During hours you are on furlough you can:
- take part in training
- volunteer for another employer or organisation
- work for another employer, if contractually allowed
For the hours you are furloughed your employer cannot ask you to do work for another linked or associated company.
If your contract allows, you may undertake other employment for the time your current employer has placed you on furlough, and this will not affect the grant that they can claim under the scheme. You will need to be able to work for the employer that has placed you on furlough if they decide to stop furloughing you or start flexibly furloughing you, and you must be able to undertake any training they require while on furlough. If you take on new employment, you should ensure you complete the starter checklist form with your new employer correctly. If you are furloughed from another employment, you should complete Statement C. Any activities undertaken while on furlough must be in line with the latest Public Health guidance during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Your employer can still make you redundant while you’re on furlough or afterwards. Your employer can continue to claim for you while you are serving a statutory or contractual notice period, however grants cannot be used to substitute redundancy payments.
If you’re made redundant, there is new legislation that ensures you are entitled to received redundancy pay based on your normal wage and not the reduced furlough rate.
Your rights as an employee are not affected by being on furlough, including redundancy rights.
From 1 July, you and your employer can agree that you will be flexibly furloughed. Whilst on furlough, you may still undertake union or non-union representatives duties and activities for the purpose of an individual or collective representation of employees or other workers. However in doing this, you must not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation or a linked or associated organisation.
Report fraud to HMRC
HMRC will check claims. Payments may be withheld or need to be paid back if a claim is found to be fraudulent or based on incorrect information.
You can report fraud to HMRC if your employer is abusing the scheme. This could include your employer:
- claiming on your behalf and not paying you what you’re entitled to
- asking you to work whilst on furlough
- making a backdated claim that includes times when you were working
If you do not want to go on furlough
If your employer asks you to go on furlough and you refuse you may be at risk of redundancy or termination of employment, depending on the circumstances of your employer. However, this must be in line with normal redundancy rules and protections.
Guidance for specific customers
If you’re an agency worker (including if you are employed by an umbrella company)
Where agency workers are paid through PAYE, they are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme, including where they are employed by umbrella companies.
Furlough should be agreed between the agency, as the deemed employer, and the worker. As with employees, agency workers should perform no work for, through, or on behalf of the agency that has furloughed them while they are furloughed, including performing such work through or on behalf of the agency for the agency’s clients.
Where an agency supplies clients with workers who are employed by an umbrella company that operates the PAYE, it will be for the umbrella company and the worker to agree whether to furlough the worker or not.
If you’re an office holder
If you are an office holder who is remunerated by PAYE then you can be furloughed and receive support through this scheme. The furlough, and any ongoing payment during furlough, will need to be agreed between you and the party who operates PAYE on the income they receive for holding their office. Where you are a company director or member of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), the furlough arrangements should be adopted formally as a decision of the company or LLP.
If you’re a company director
As office holders, salaried company directors are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme. Company directors owe duties to their company which are set out in the Companies Act 2006. Where a company (acting through its board of directors) considers that it is in compliance with the statutory duties of one or more of its individual salaried directors, the board can decide that such directors should be furloughed.
Where furloughed directors need to carry out particular duties to fulfil the statutory obligations they owe to their company, they may do so provided they do no more than would be judged reasonably necessary for the purposes, i.e. they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company.
This also applies to salaried individuals who are directors of their own personal service company (PSC).
Company directors with an annual pay period
Those paid annually are eligible to claim, as long as they meet the relevant conditions. This includes being notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020, which relates to a payment of earnings in the tax year 2019 to 2020. The requirement for there to be payment of earnings in the tax year 2019 to 2020 applies for any employee being claimed for under the scheme, irrespective of how frequently they are paid (e.g. weekly, fortnightly or monthly). This will be relevant for those on an annual pay period if the last payment notified to RTI was before 5 April 2019 and no further payments were notified until after 19 March 2020.
An employer can make their claim in anticipation of an imminent payroll run, at the point they run their payroll or after they have run their payroll.
If you’re a contractor with public sector engagements in scope of IR35 off-payroll working rules (IR35)
Public sector bodies will follow the Crown Commercial Services guidance in the vast majority of cases. In a small number of cases, for example where organisations are not primarily funded by the government and whose staff cannot be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, it may be appropriate to claim under the scheme. Contractors who are deemed employees according to the off-payroll working rules can be eligible for this scheme.
In this scenario, if the public sector organisation wished to furlough a contractor, they would have to confirm this with both the contractor’s Personal Service Company (PSC) and the fee-payer (as set out in the off-payroll working rules, usually the agency paying the contractor’s PSC). It should be formally agreed between these parties that the contractor is to do no work for the public sector organisation during their period of furlough. The fee-payer would be able to apply for the furlough payment of 80% of the monthly contract value, up to a maximum of £2,500, as well as the employer National Insurance contributions on that subsidised wage. The fee-payer would then pay at least the amount of wage-grant received to the PSC, and report the payment via PAYE using the contractor’s details, making the usual tax and National Insurance contributions deductions for contracts in scope of the off-payroll rules. The PSC would then be required to report the amount it pays to the contractor as deemed employment income via PAYE using box 58A on the PAYE Real Time Information return.
Where a contractor is continuing to receive payments from a public sector client (including through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or other any other scheme), income from this client should be excluded from any calculation of the reference pay for the purposes of the scheme if the contractor also decides to furlough themselves as an employee or director of their own company.
If you’re a salaried member of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP)
Members of LLPs who are designated as employees for tax purposes (‘salaried members’) under the Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act (ITTOIA) 2005 are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme.
The rights and duties of a member of an LLP are set out in an LLP agreement and in the absence of an agreement, default provisions in the LLP Act 2000, based upon company and partnership law. Such an agreement may include separate agreement between the LLP and an individual member setting out the terms applicable to that member’s relationship with the LLP.
To furlough a member, the terms of the LLP agreement (or any such agreement between the LLP and the member) may need to be varied by a formal decision of the LLP, for example to reflect the fact that the member will perform no work in the LLP for the period of furlough, and the effect of this on their remuneration from the LLP. For an LLP member who is treated as being employed by the LLP (in accordance with s863A of ITTOIA 2005), the reference salary for this scheme is the LLP member’s profit allocation, excluding any amounts which are determined by the LLP member’s performance, or the overall performance of the LLP.
If you’re a Limb (b) Worker
Where Limb (b) Workers are paid through PAYE, they can be furloughed and receive support through this scheme.
Those who pay tax on their trading profits through Income Tax Self-Assessment, may instead be eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, announced by the Chancellor on 26 March 2020.
You can find out more about the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme, including the eligibility criteria and how to claim.
If you’re a contingent worker in the public sector
The Cabinet Office has issued guidance on how payments to suppliers of contingent workers impacted by COVID-19 should be dealt with where the party receiving the contingent worker’s services is a Central Government Department, an Executive Agency of a Central Government Department or a Non-Departmental Public Body.
This guidance applies to agency workers paid through PAYE, as well as those paid through umbrella companies on PAYE and off-payroll workers supplying their services through a Personal Service Company (PSC). This guidance can be read here.
If you have questions about the scheme, you should contact your employer first.
We are receiving very high numbers of calls. Contacting HMRC unnecessarily puts our essential public services at risk during these challenging times.
Get help online
Use HMRC’s digital assistant to find more information about the coronavirus support schemes.
You can also contact HMRC if you cannot get the help you need online or from your employer. HMRC can only give you general advice and is unable to help you with a specific claim.
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