What is the Difference Between Furlough and Laid Off? Employment

Unfortunately, during the pandemic many people have fallen victim to the financial strains of the Covid-19. When the furlough scheme initially began to wind down, people started to experience being laid off, often for the first time. However, it can be confusing to understand the differences between this and being furloughed. In order to explain what this means to you going forward, the BBO team have put together the following guide.

What is Furlough?

Initially introduced in March 2020, furlough has become a staple in society as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (to give it it’s full name) has protected 11.4 million jobs since being brought in according to government statistics. During its time, the JRS has taken many forms in line with how well the country is coping with the disease. Currently, employers can furlough their staff and their employees will receive 80% of their annual salary, with a cap of £2,500 per month. However, from July this will change as your employers will be expected to contribute towards your monthly salary. You can read all about these changes in our guide.

These changes are introduced as an incentive for people to return to work, albeit if that is in a “flexible furlough” capacity. More can be read about this in our guide to flexible furlough. This time it comes around, it looks to be in line with companies being able to reopen their doors. However, as we saw the first time that this happened, it can lead to some employers laying off their staff until they can afford to bring them back.

What is Being Laid Off?

First of all, it’s important not to get this confused with being made redundant. They are two very different things, particularly given that being laid off doesn’t mean that you lose your job. If your contract allows it, you can be laid off by your employer if there simply isn’t enough work for you.

According to the Government website, lay off classes as if you’re off work for at least one working day. However, if your hours are cut, that classes as short-time working. There isn’t a limit to how long your employer can choose to lay you off for. If you’ve been laid off or put on short time working, you should be paid in full. However, if your contract allows unpaid and reduced pay layoffs, you’ll be entitled to just guarantee pay.

What is Guarantee Pay?

If you believe that you qualify for guarantee pay, you will be entitled to a maximum of £150. This is because you’re entitled to a maximum of £30 a day for five days in any 3-month period. The only circumstances where this will change is if you usually earn less than this as you’ll get your normal daily rate instead. It’s important to remember that you can only claim this guarantee pay for days where you’re not working.

In order to qualify for this pay, you must:

  • Have been continuously employed for one month
  • Reasonably make sure you’re available for work
  • Not refuse any reasonable alternative work (including work that isn’t in your contract)
  • Not have been laid off because of industrial action

If it is that your employer has its own policy that is in line with the minimum and maximum amounts specified in statutory lay-off pay, you may receive these instead. However, if you believe that you’re eligible for this pay and your employer refuses to pay it, you may be able to claim to an employment tribunal.

What are my Options?

Once you’ve been laid off, you have a couple of options ahead of you. If you feel that there will be work there for you at the end of your lay-off period, and you can afford to wait, you can hold on until you’re invited back to work. However, as there is no limit to how long you can be laid-off for, you can eventually apply for redundancy. There are two circumstances where this is possible:

  • You’ve been laid-off or short-time working for four weeks in a row
  • You’ve been laid-off or short-time working for 6 weeks in a 13-week period

Within four weeks of your lay-off ending, you should write to your employer to claim redundancy. Once you have done this, you will have to wait to see whether your employer accepts or sends back a counter-notice. If you haven’t heard anything within seven days, you can assume that this has been accepted. However, if you are served a counter-notice, your employer will be expecting you to work soon. However, this must then start within four weeks and last at least 13 weeks. You must also formally resign within three weeks from either a week after you handed in your written notice or the date that your employer withdrew their counter-notice.

Contact BBO for Furlough and Lay-Off Advice

Here at Building Better Opportunities, we’re committed to offering employment support and welfare advice across Stafford and South Staffordshire. Therefore, if you have recently been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact us. Our Advocates will be happy to discuss your situation and offer you the support that you need. In addition to giving us a call, you can also use our drop in sessions or take advantage of our just the job clubs. Taking place each week online, they’re a great opportunity to meet our advocates, participants and gain tonnes of free advice and guidance.