Can you ask to be put on furlough?

The coronavirus job retention scheme is intended to keep businesses afloat and workers earning during the current crisis. There is no cap on how much the scheme will distribute to businesses, and millions of workers have already been furloughed.

Can you ask to be put on furlough?

For many reasons, some employees may wish to be furloughed at the current time.

James Tamm, Director of Employment Services at Ellis Whittam, said “in theory” you can ask to be put on furlough, but we “await further guidance” on this issue.

He told “You should note that the scheme was originally designed as an alternative to redundancy, so you may well have to demonstrate some business requirements or reason as to why certain employees have been furloughed if there is still work for them to do.


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“For example, it is probably not acceptable to allow anyone and everyone to volunteer if there is only a reduced, rather than no, need for staff to undertake work.

“However, if you need four people to be furloughed out of a team of 10, it will be permissible to ask for volunteers in that situation.

“It is worth noting that the guidance around the furlough scheme and, in particular, what category of employees can be furloughed has changed several times and sometimes in quite a contradictory fashion.

“For example, shielding employees have been told that they can be furloughed, then were told they could only be furloughed as an alternative to redundancy, before shifting back to a position where is appears that they can be furloughed regardless of whether there is work for them to do.

“It would certainly help employers and employees if the government guidance could be clarified to confirm whether anyone can be furloughed or what kind of operational impacts allow furlough to be utilised (for example, does there need to be a general downturn in work, even if that is short of what employment lawyers would usually class as a redundancy situation?).”

Although some aspects of the issue are unclear, the terms of the scheme are clear.

As an employee, you cannot decide to furlough yourself.

Even if you do ask to be furloughed, ultimately the decision to furlough employees lies with the employer.


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How does furlough work?

Furlough has been introduced by the Government as an emergency measure during the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the new coronavirus job retention scheme, all UK employers are eligible to furlough their employees.

The Government will pay up to 80 percent of the salaries of claimants, to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

The scheme is intended to help those who may have otherwise have been made redundant as the economy struggles with the current financial climate.

Under the scheme, a furloughed worker will remain on the company’s payroll, however, while they are furloughed they are not allowed to work on behalf of the company.

HMRC is investigating instances where employers are not using furlough ethically, and are asking furloughed employees to work.

A dedicated hotline has been set up for this purpose.

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