YOUR ONE STOP SHOP FOR UP TO DATE ANSWERS ON COVID 19
Here are answers to the main questions I am being asked by employees during this time, providing you with practical and useful guidance. This is not a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such so do ask it you're not sure what to do. If you have other questions you want to see answered here, get in touch and I will update.
Can they make me go on furlough? Yes and no. No because you do have to consent. Yes because the likelihood is if you say no, they may seek to make you redundant. See below what happens then.
Can they reduce my pay? Not without your agreement but if you don't agree, they may be entitled to end your contract for "some other substantial reason" or redundancy. Your employer does have to consult and look at alternatives and have good reasons for dismissing you so it should not be rushed. However if you have under two years service, you will not be able to claim unfair dismissal and if there is no discrimination or some other unlawful reason for dismissing you, you will struggle to make a claim. If the change is just imposed without you agreeing, make sure you make it clear you are not ok with this and are continuing to work under protest. You can then make a claim for the unpaid pay.
What are my rights if I am made redundant? You have a right to be consulted and fairly selected (though if there is no discrimination or other type of unlawfulness and you have under two years service you cannot claim unfair dismissal). You have a right to reasonable time off to look for other work. You have the right to be paid your notice, your accrued but untaken holiday and if you have over two years' service a redundancy payment (warning - statutory redundancy pay is not very generous unless you have been with your employer a long time - here is calculator that will tell you how much you are owed).
I am working from home but not coping. What can I do? Your health comes first so make sure you do something - it's not worth risking a burn out. Talk to your employer. Your employer still has the obligation to look provide you with a safe place of work. This means they can't overload you with work especially if they know it's impacting your mental health (which may be happening especially if lots of people have been furloughed) and they must provide you with a safe place of work (think chair, computer screens etc). Maybe think of ways in which you can reduce your workload that meets their minimum needs. You could ask to work part-time but you may not want to lose the pay. You can ask to be furloughed but your employer is under no obligation to furlough you.
If you are a parent or have responsibility of others, and have been with your employer more than one year, you can ask for parental leave but this is unpaid. If it's an emergency, you can look at your company's compassionate lave policy,
If they are dismissing you because you have raised that you cannot cope, this could be a type of unfair dismissal (for which you do need 2 years' service). Get legal advice.
Can I / must I take holiday during furlough? You can and your holiday pay will be paid at your normal rate - not a reduced furlough rate so this may be a good way to top up your pay. Follow your normal holiday policy in terms of asking for leave. Your employer could refuse. Your employer can make you take your holiday during furlough provided they give you twice the amount of notice of the holiday they want you to take (i.e. they must tell you 4 days before they ask you to take 2 days) and you are in a position to enjoy some rest and recuperation.
Can I work during furlough? Not for your current employer. They could give you permission to work for someone else but they do not have to. If they ask you to work during furlough, that will mean they are not entitled to the government grant. It will not impact on your entitlement to furlough pay unless your furlough letter says you will only receive what they are entitled to claim. Note this is going to change from end of July where it will be possible to do some work (paid of course) for your employer and be furloughed the rest of the time.