Furloughing a workforce is one of the conditions for businesses qualifying to receive 80 percent of each employee’s salary. The Government implemented this initiative to safeguard workers from being laid off. But for those who are now at home on furlough, boredom has become the enemy. Many people want to help Britain’s coronavirus response, but can you volunteer while on furlough?
Millions of workers in Britain have faced the threat of losing their income as businesses have closed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
Many people are unable to work from home, while others have found their workload has started to dry up as industries across the country have ground to a halt.
To protect workers, the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak unveiled a £330billion package aimed at supporting businesses, families and individuals through the hardships resulting from the COVID-19 crisis.
One of these measures was the implementation of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
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What is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?
The Coronavirus Job Retention scheme is a platform deployed by the Government which essentially enables all UK-wide employers with a PAYE scheme created and started on or before February 28 to receive a grant to cover 80 percent of an employee’s wage.
HMRC will pay employers this grant, up to £2,500, after taxation, National Insurance and pension contributions, as a safeguard to stop workers from being made redundant.
The scheme which is currently being built by the HMRC, will cover wages backdated to March 1 and will run for three months from that time, after which it will be extended if necessary.
Any UK organisation with employees can apply, so long as they have a PAYE scheme, the business began on or before February 28 and has a UK bank account.
Where a company is being taken under the management of an administrator, the administrator will be able to access the Job Retention Scheme.
Any type of contract can apply including: full-time, part-time, employees on agency contracts and employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts.
Employees who were made redundant since February 28 are also covered if they are rehired by their employer.
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The grant will start on the day you were placed on furlough and this can be backdated to March 1.
If you have been off sick or self-isolating due to COVID-19, you will need to speak to your employer about eligibility.
You may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay while on sick leave, but can be furloughed after this.
You can find more guidance about the scheme as regards employers here and employees here.
Can you volunteer while on furlough?
Yes, you are able to volunteer while on furlough.
The government guidance on this reads: “Once you are on furlough you will not be able to work for your employer, but you can undertake training or volunteer subject to public health guidance, as long as you’re not:
“Making money for your employer.
“Providing services to your employer.”
How can you volunteer during the coronavirus lockdown?
There are plenty of ways you can help bolster the frontline coronavirus response.
For instance, the health service in England put out a call for volunteers to help with:
- Delivering medicines from pharmacies
- Driving patients to appointments
- Bringing them home from hospital
- Or making regular phone calls to check on people isolating at home.
You can sign up to be a NHS Volunteer Responder here.
You can also volunteer closer to home by keeping an eye out for vulnerable neighbours and family members.
Checking in on them and running errands for them can be a great way to help people around where you live.
The platform Covid-19 Mutual Aid helps you find groups local to you who are offering support for vulnerable members of your community.
If you are unable or unwilling to volunteer outside of your home, you can always donate money to a charity working to assist others.
Charities have seen a massive drop in their voluntary income due to the cancellation of events and it is estimated that they will lose more than £4billion over the next few weeks.
Donating money is a simple way to help these charities stave off closure.
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