Can I Work For Someone Else Whilst Furloughed?

In Covid-19

In the latest of our ‘Questions from Facebook’ series, we look at the issue consuming many a thread.

There is a lot of conflicting information regarding this question (as related to the Job Retention Scheme) flying around Facebook and it is easy to see why. Simply put Employment Lawyers across the country cannot decide and the government are not clarifying the situation.

Another film for the lockdown list

What we do know

You cannot work for your employer (the company or companies that furloughed you) at all whilst you are furloughed. Not reduced hours, not from home. Zip. Zero. Nada. No work for your employer/s.

You can do voluntary work. If you want to keep busy and help out a worthy cause during your furlough that is absolutely fine and positively encouraged.

What about getting paid by another company?

This is where is gets confusing. The main reason for the confusion is that the government has not commented on this one way or the other. The information on their website states that you ‘will not be able to work for your employer’ but makes no mention of working for others.

One point that has caused confusion is that you can be furloughed by more than one employer, this relates to people that were working for more than one employer before the scheme came into effect, not any subsequent jobs you have taken since.

Employment lawyer’s advice is mixed but falls into three categories:

No – Whilst it has not been made clear by the government it is best to err on the side of caution and not risk losing you furlough payments if the clarification comes through forbidding working for others.

Yes – They haven’t said anything so why not? If they turn round and say you can’t then you will have to stop if you want to receive your furlough, so don’t sign any contracts which tie you in to the job but day to day work should be fine.

Sometimes – If you work outside the hours that you are contracted by your employer then your new work is not interfering with the work you are unable to do. In essence if called upon you would be able to work both jobs and therefore you are not breaking any furlough agreements. They mostly point out that to do this you would have to prove that if you were required to work both jobs you have enough time in your week to sleep and rest.

 

Your furlough letter

To be put on furlough by your employer you will need to have a letter (or email) from them officially stating the change in your contract with them (if you haven’t received this you will need to chase them up, more info here). Many of these letters that have been sent out state that you are unable to work for another employer to qualify for your furlough pay. So before going any further check your letter, or get your hands on one from your employer, and see if this is even an option.

Any use?

Not really. Until the government clarifies the situation you are really having to decide based on your personal situation. If you can hold out and survive without having to take another job then it seems the smart money is don’t gamble, play it safe. If your circumstances don’t allow you that luxury then we are very sorry we can’t give you definitive advice on what this means for you, we have tried to get an answer but with no government clarification no-one is willing, understandably, to put their necks on the line with a firm answer.

If it wasn’t illegal for companies to pay with putting it through PAYE we would suggest that, but it is.

 

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