Updated on 29 January 2021
Information for staff who are furloughed during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic
What does furloughing mean?
The term ‘furlough’ is used to describe a temporary leave due to special needs of a company or employer, which may be due to economic conditions at the specific employer or in the economy as a whole. The UK’s Chancellor has adopted this term when setting out arrangements to support employers during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The Government has introduced a scheme whereby employers can apply for a grant to cover a proportion of their employees’ wages, where some or all of the employee’s work is unable to be carried out as a result of coronavirus. To access the scheme, employers need to furlough their affected staff on a full time or flexible basis.
Why is the University furloughing staff?
There are a number of roles at the University, all of which are extremely valuable during normal operations, but which are very difficult to carry out during periods when strict coronavirus related restrictions are in place. There are also periods when activity on-campus is reduced in some areas due to the effects of coronavirus. The University’s financial position has also been seriously affected by coronavirus. The Government’s furlough scheme helps employers who have been affected by the pandemic by allowing them to reclaim the cost of employing people who are unable to workand in order to access it, the University needs to furlough some of our staff.
Why has my post been furloughed?
The decision to furlough roles is not in any way related to the value placed on the role by the University, nor is it any reflection on staff personally or their contribution. We have prioritised roles that cannot be undertaken at home. Where there is room for some discretion, e.g. where a skeleton staff is required, individual skills, circumstances and wishes will be taken into account wherever possible in the decision on which staff will be furloughed.
What happens if I don’t want to be furloughed?
This is a very difficult time for everyone and the University has a duty to act in a way to protect the interests of all its employees. Therefore, decisions on which roles to furlough have been driven by operational need. Where there is some discretion about who should be furloughed, people’s individual circumstances are taken into account as much as possible. In the first instance please contact your line manager and discuss any concerns you may have.
What does this mean for my employment with the University?
Being furloughed has no impact on your employment status at the University. Your continuous service is unaffected and at all times you will remain employed by the University. This also means that the obligations placed on you as an employee, e.g. in relation to confidentiality continue to apply.
Does this mean that my role is redundant?
No. The decision to furlough roles has been taken as a short-term measure to deal with the immediate operational and financial challenges that the University is experiencing.
Does this mean I’m more likely to be made redundant in the future?
No. If there is a need to make posts redundant in the future, decisions will be made on the future needs of the University and not on whether your role was furloughed or not.
How long will furlough last?
The furlough scheme has been extended until 30 April 2021 and you could be fully furloughed until this date or for one or more shorter periods either on a full time or part-time basis.
Your letter from the University will confirm the initial duration of your furlough period and the details of any hours you will be required to work. You should be mindful that your furlough could be ended earlier if operationally necessary, equally it could be extended, or you could be asked to go on several periods of furlough, returning in between them.
What happens when furlough ends?
You will be expected to return to work at the end of the furlough period. This could mean working from home or returning to campus. Your manager will advise you on the timing and any specific arrangements for returning to campus including the measures that will need to be in place to ensure the safety of staff and students.
What notice will you give me to return to work while I’m furloughed?
We will endeavour to give you as much notice as we possibly can but it’s important that you are aware that the response to coronavirus is changing rapidly, so you should be available for work and may be asked to return to work with as little as two days’ notice. Your manager will remain in contact with you and will update you as soon as they are able. You can also contact your manager whilst you are on furlough if you have any queries.
I have not been furloughed up till now, does this mean that I will not be furloughed in the future?
Government guidance in response to coronavirus is likely to change in the coming months and the impact on the University may mean more staff will be furloughed on either a full-time or part-time basis. Your manager will have a discussion with you if you are likely to be considered for furlough.
I am a union representative and have been furloughed, can I still undertake union duties?
Whilst on furlough, you may undertake duties and activities for the purpose of individual or collective representation of staff. However, in doing this, you must not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of the University or a linked or associated organisation.
Pay and other terms and conditions
What happens to my pay?
Your pay will be unaffected by being furloughed. The Government scheme will enable the University to apply for a grant to cover a proportion of the pay of furloughed staff up to certain limits, but the University has decided to top up employees’ pay so they continue to receive their contractual pay as normal from the University. Your pay will continue to be subject to the usual deductions of tax and national insurance.
What happens if my pay includes contractual overtime or a shift allowance?
If you are furloughed, you will receive your normal pay including any contractual overtime or shift allowance that is associated with your role.
What happens to other deductions that are made to my pay every month?
Normal deductions will continue to be made for such things as student loans, union subscriptions and childcare vouchers (unless there has been a mandate for these to cease).
What happens to my pension while I’m furloughed?
Your pension contributions will continue during the furlough period and the University will maintain the employer contributions also.
What happens to my annual leave while I’m furloughed?
If you are furloughed you will continue to accrue annual leave during the furlough period and you are expected to take your normal annual leave allocation whilst furloughed. You will not be allowed to carry-over annual leave into next year.
You will continue to accrue annual leave while you are furloughed. Any pre-booked annual leave during your furlough will not be cancelled and you should continue to plan to take annual leave throughout this period. You can be asked to resume work whilst on furlough and may be given short notice to do so, but you would not be expected to resume work if you are on annual leave and would instead resume work once your annual leave period has ended.
If I am furloughed, can I carry my annual leave forward into the next annual leave year?
No. Government guidance has confirmed that staff who are furloughed can take annual leave while on furlough. This means that you should plan to take annual leave as normal across the year and normal rules will apply in that annual leave cannot be carried forward into the next annual leave year.
I thought that the temporary amendment made to the Working Time Directive allowed me to carry over annual leave if I was furloughed, is that not the case?
While the amendment to the Working Time Directive does allow annual leave to be carried forward into the next 2 holiday leave years because of coronavirus, this would only be in specific circumstances. This may be if a member of staff has not been able to take any holiday as they are a key worker and have had to continue working or they are self-isolating or too sick to take holiday before the end of the leave year.
What happens if I am on maternity/family leave – can I be furloughed?
Employers do have the option to furlough staff currently on maternity/family leave however the University has decided that it will not furlough staff in this position at the moment. You will therefore continue to receive your normal maternity/family pay and benefits. When you return to work after maternity/family leave, a decision may be taken that you are to be furloughed and your manager will be in contact with you to discuss this if this is the case.
What happens if I am due to go maternity/family leave and I am furloughed?
If you are due to go on maternity/family leave you can still be furloughed. You will still be entitled to statutory maternity pay/statutory paternity pay and any enhanced occupational benefits if eligible.
What happens if I’m ill while I’m furloughed?
The University has decided that if you become ill while you are furloughed, you will remain on furlough leave. This means that you will not need to submit any self-certificates or medical certificates, however, you should still let your manager know if you are unwell so we can ensure the necessary advice and support can be provided to you and your manager knows you are not available for work. If you have any symptoms of coronavirus or have had a positive test result you should inform your manager and follow the guidance on the coronavirus pages of our website.
Communication, contact, and support
Can I access my emails while I am furloughed?
We recognise that some people use their work email for personal matters so you will still be able to access your emails. However, you must not send or respond to any work-related emails while you are furloughed.
Can I get in touch with my work colleagues?
Yes, maintaining social contacts with work colleagues is absolutely fine while you are furloughed. You are still very much part of the University community.
How will you stay in touch with me while I’m on furlough?
Your manager will maintain contact with you during any periods of furlough and you should feel free to contact them with any concerns or questions.
How will I know what it happening at the University while I’m on furlough?
Regular organisational updates will continue to be provided throughout the furloughing period by Internal Communications, the Principal and other services.
Can I continue to access University support and advice while I’m on furlough?
Yes. You should contact your line manager or the appropriate University support service as required including HR and Occupational Health.
Can I continue to access University resources while I’m on furlough?
Yes. All our online resources will be available to you over this period, including training and development from OPD and ideas for maintaining your fitness and wellbeing from ISE.
Other work and volunteering
Can I do any work while I’m furloughed?
You will not be able to do any work for the University during any hours that you are scheduled as being furloughed. If your manager agrees a part-time furlough arrangement, you will be able to carry out work during the hours designated as working hours, but not at any other time.
Can I get another job out with the University while I’m furloughed?
The current rules regarding additional employment which are contained in your Conditions of Service continue to apply. You should seek permission from your line manager before agreeing to any additional employment.
Can I volunteer while I’m furloughed?
The furlough scheme does not allow you to volunteer for the University, but you can use the time to volunteer for the community or other organisations that are not associated with the University.