Guidance

Check if your employer can use the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

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).

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until 31 March 2021 and the government will review the scheme in January 2021.

Claims for furlough days in November 2020 must be submitted by 14 December 2020.

You can no longer submit claims for claim periods ending on or before October 31 2020.

You can read previous versions of this guidance on The National Archives.

If your employer cannot maintain their workforce because their operations have been affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), they can put you on furlough and apply for a grant to cover a portion of your usual monthly wage costs (only for time you’re on furlough).

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will stay open until 31 March 2021. Your employer can claim 80% of your usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

All employers with a UK, Isle of Man or Channel Island bank account and a UK PAYE scheme can claim the grant. They do not need to have previously claimed for you before 30 October 2020.

Employers can furlough employees for any amount of time and with any working pattern, and can still claim the grant for hours not worked.

Check if you’re eligible

You can be on any type of employment contract, including full-time, part-time, agency, flexible or zero-hour contracts. You can be furloughed if you’re a foreign national and meet the eligibility criteria.

Your employer can claim for you if you were employed on 30 October 2020, as long as they have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission to HMRC between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020. This may differ if you were made redundant, or you stopped working for them on or after 23 September 2020 and they then re-employed you.

You cannot claim through this scheme if you’re self-employed or get any income from self-employment. If you are self-employed, check if you can apply for support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Your employer is responsible for claiming through the 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 your 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 five years. .

If your employer flexibly furloughs you, they must also keep records of how many hours you work and the number of hours you are furloughed (not working).

They do not need to place all their employees on furlough, and they can 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.

Decisions around whether to offer a furlough agreement to someone are down to the individual employer.

If you’re self-isolating or on sick leave

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not intended for short term absences from work due to sickness.

Short term illness or self-isolation should not be a consideration in deciding whether to furlough you.

If your employer wants to furlough you for business reasons and you are currently off sick, they are eligible to do so as with other employees. In these cases, you should no longer receive sick pay and would be considered a furloughed employee.

If you are on sick leave or self-isolating as a result of coronavirus, you may be able to get Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

Your employer can furlough you if you are clinically extremely vulnerable, at the highest risk of severe illness from coronavirus or off work on long-term sick leave. It is up to your employer to decide whether to furlough you.

If you’re sick while furloughed

You retain your statutory rights, including your right to SSP. This means that if you become ill, due to Coronavirus or any other cause, you must be paid at least as much as you would receive under SSP.

Subject to eligibility this includes those self-isolating or clinically extremely vulnerable because of Coronavirus. It is up to employers to decide whether to move you onto SSP or to keep you on furlough, at your furloughed rate.

If you’re on a fixed term contract

If your fixed term contract has not already expired, it can be extended or renewed. Your employer can put you on furlough as long as you were employed by them on 30 October 2020.

If you were on a fixed term contract that expired after 23 September 2020, your employer can re-employ you and claim for you as long as you were employed by them on 23 September.

To claim for you, your employer must have made a PAYE RTI submission to HMRC for you, between 20 March 2020 and 30 October 2020.

If you currently have more than one employer

If you have more than one employer, you can be furloughed for each job. Each job is separate and the £2,500 monthly cap applies to each one.

You can be furloughed in one job and get furlough payments, but continue working in another job and get your normal wages.

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’re on statutory parental leave

The normal rules for maternity, shared parental, adoption, paternity or parental bereavement leave and pay apply.

Your employer may need to calculate your average weekly earnings differently, 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’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 decide to end your maternity leave early to be furloughed (with your employer’s agreement), you will need to give your employer at least eight weeks’ notice of your return to work, but you can agree to shorter notice in certain circumstances. You will not be eligible for furlough until the end of the eight weeks or the date that you have agreed to return to work.

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’re an apprentice

You can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and continue to train while you’re on furlough.

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.

Check for changes in apprenticeship learning arrangements because of coronavirus (COVID-19 in:

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.

If you’re a union or non-union representative or a pension trustee

If you are a furloughed union or non-union representative you can carry out duties and activities for the purpose of individual or collective representation of employees or other workers. You must not provide services to or generate revenue for your organisation or an associated organisation.

If you are a furloughed pension scheme trustee or trustee director of a corporate trustee, you may carry out trustee duties in relation to the pension scheme. If you are a professional, independent pension scheme trustee who has been furloughed by the independent trustee company, you cannot carry out trustee work that would provide services to or generate revenue for the independent trustee company, or any organisation associated with that independent trustee company.

If you’ve been made redundant

If your employer has to make redundancies, they should follow the normal rules. This includes giving you a notice period and speaking to you before making a final decision.

Your employer cannot claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for you, for any days on or after 1 December 2020 when you were furloughed and serving a contractual or statutory notice period (this includes serving notice of retirement or resignation).

If you are made redundant, your employer should base your statutory redundancy and statutory notice pay on your normal wage rather than the reduced furlough wage.

Other types of employees that can be claimed for

Employers can claim grants for other types of employees as long as they’re paid via PAYE.

Your employer can claim for you if you’re:

  • an agency worker
  • a company director
  • a contractor with public sector engagements in scope of IR35 off-payroll working rules (IR35)
  • a salaried member of a Limited Liability Partnership
  • a Limb (b) worker
  • an office holder

Find information about the types of employees who can be claimed for through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

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.

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 usual salary.

If your pay varies, find out how your employer will calculate your usual salary.

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 when you return from statutory leave, your employer should calculate the grant using the normal rules for employees whose pay varies.

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.

Holiday pay

While you’re on furlough you will continue to accrue leave as per your employment contract.

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.

You can only be put on furlough if coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting your employer’s operations.

You cannot be put on furlough just because:

  • you are going to be on paid leave
  • your employer usually does less business over the festive period

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.

Employees can take holiday whilst on furlough. If they are flexibly furloughed then any hours taken as holiday during the claim period should be counted as furloughed hours rather than working hours.

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 (12 weeks in Northern Ireland). Therefore, if you take holiday while on furlough, your employer should pay you your usual holiday pay in accordance with the WTR. Your employer 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.

Read further guidance on holiday pay during furlough.

Pay for time spent training

While you’re on furlough, you’re encouraged to do training as long as your training does not provide services to, or generate revenue for your employer or an associated organisation.

When you do training at the request of your employer during hours which your employer records you as being on furlough, you are entitled to be paid at least your appropriate national minimum wage for this time. Usually, the furlough payment of 80% of your regular wage, will cover these training hours. However, when the minimum wage entitlement is more than the furlough payment, your employer will need to pay you the additional wages.

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 normal rules for employees whose pay varies.

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 coronavirus outbreak.

Report fraud to HMRC

As part of HMRC’s commitment to transparency and to deter fraudulent claims, we will publish information about employers who claim for periods starting on or after 1 December 2020. The following information will be published on GOV.UK:

Find out what the banded ranges are.

HMRC will also be improving the information available to you by including details of claims made for you, for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020 in your Personal Tax Account on GOV.UK

HMRC will check claims, and 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.

Contacting HMRC

If you think that there have been mistakes or unreasonable delays caused by HMRC, you can use our complaints process.

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.

We are receiving a very high numbers of calls. Please do not contact HMRC unnecessarily, this will help us to manage our essential public services during these challenging times.

Other help and support

You can watch videos and register for free webinars to learn more about the support available to help you deal with the economic impacts of coronavirus.

Published 26 March 2020
Last updated 1 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Guidance has been updated because the 30 November claim deadline has now passed.

  2. The information about reporting fraud to HMRC has been updated.

  3. Changed language to make it clear that for claim periods starting on or after 1 December 2020, you cannot claim for any days on or after 1 December 2020 during which the furloughed employee was serving a contractual or statutory notice period. Also, minor corrections have been made to the section on maternity allowance.

  4. The scheme has been extended. This guidance has been updated with details of how to claim for periods after 1 November 2020. 30 November 2020 is the last day employers can submit or change claims for periods ending on or before 31 October 2020.

  5. Added translation.

  6. Information call out updated to state that the scheme is being extended until 31 March 2021.

  7. Information call out has been updated to confirm that the guidance on this page reflects the rules for the period until 31 October 2020. This page will be updated to include the rules relating to the scheme extension next week.

  8. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is being extended until December 2020.

  9. Page updated to say that 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. Page updated to say that if a furloughed employee is made redundant they're entitled to receive redundancy pay based on their normal wage and not on the reduced furlough rate.

  10. The information call out has been updated to tell employers about the changes to the scheme from 1 August 2020. The following sections have been removed: ‘If you were made redundant or stopped working for your employer on or after 28 February 2020’, ‘If you were made redundant or stopped working for your employer on or after 19 March 2020’, ‘If you were on a fixed term contract’ has been edited to remove information relating to contracts expiring before 28 Feb. Information about the minimum furlough period has been removed.

  11. Page updated to clarify that notice periods being served by furloughed employees include contractual notice periods.

  12. Information added about employers being able to continue to claim for employees while they are serving a statutory notice period.

  13. Page updated with information on eligibility for claims before 1 July 2020. Also added new information on holiday pay that tells employers that flexibly furloughed employees can be recorded as on furlough during time spent on holiday.

  14. Added information about exceptions for military reservists.

  15. Information in the box at the top of the page updated with how the scheme is changing. Contact HMRC information updated to explain that HMRC cannot answer queries about specific claims.

  16. Page updated with information about how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is changing.

  17. Welsh translation added.

  18. Information added to clarify that employee authorised salary deductions can be deducted from grant payments. A link has been added directing customers to check the impact on their tax credits. Corrected inconsistencies within the guidance around the dates of eligibility for the scheme.

  19. Page has been updated with information about the extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

  20. Information added for employees that are furloughed and want to volunteer.

  21. Added a link to shared parental pay guidance and a new section for maternity allowance.

  22. Link to the webinar help and support page for businesses affected by coronavirus (COVID-19), has been added.

  23. New information added on union and non-union representatives, company directors with an annual pay period and employees who started family-related statutory pay on or after 25 April 2020. Also, clarified what employers can include in wages.

  24. New information has been added on collective agreement reached with a trade union. Also clarified eligibility criteria for employees on fixed-term contracts.

  25. New information added on how to report fraud or abuse of the scheme, fixed term contracts, holiday pay, returning from family related statutory leave, sick pay and agency workers.

  26. Updated information on payroll date and eligibility

  27. New information about eligibility has been added.

  28. This guidance has been updated with more information about the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

  29. First published.