Advice for furloughed workers
Know your rights, get help and advice as well as ideas for using your time to improve your skills.
Your employer may have no work for you to do because of coronavirus (COVID-19). Rather than lay you off or make you redundant, you can both agree that you take temporary leave. This is known as being ‘on furlough.’ During this time you may be able to get financial support from the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme.
Your rights on furlough
You might be anxious about how you will be paid or worrying whether your employer will be able to take you back to your old job.
Knowing your rights may help you to feel less anxious and help you to have a plan to get you through the coming weeks. The following organisations are providing advice, sometimes tailored to specific groups or types of workers:
- Government advice on employment and benefits for when you're furloughed
- Citizens Advice can provide general advice for anyone who has been furloughed
- Money Saving Expert has advice for gig workers, freelance, zero hours or agency staff
- Apprenticeship Service has advice if you are an apprentice
- Scope may be able to provide support to people with disabilities facing furlough
- Government advice to employers on how to furlough employees
- Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) free and impartial advice for employers and employees from workplace rights experts
- Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) advice to employers and employees from HR and people development experts
Develop your skills
This is a stressful time and you may just want to focus on getting through your daily life. You might have to spend your time off work caring for children or other family members.
You could use some of your time to improve your skills for when you go back to work, or even to explore ideas for a career change. Remember that during a crisis, you’re practising the kind of soft skills most employers look for, like:
- resilience - the ability to bounce back when things go wrong
- communication - like using the internet to stay in touch
- problem solving - from finding new ways to shop or cook, to getting medicines to an elderly relative
- decision making - for example, planning how to manage your finances, make extra money or spend your time
- time management - like staying in a routine, home educating children or organising regular exercise
You should not feel pressured to do anything extra unless you really want to. If you do feel like developing new skills you could:
- do a free online digital skills course
- explore other online courses
- volunteer or help in your community
- look at online training offered by your employer or a professional body
- do some freelance work
- develop a hobby or an interest
- use the time to update your CV
If your contract allows, you may be able to do other work while your current employer has placed you on furlough. This means if you want to work and your employer agrees to it, you could become a work hero by helping to fill critical vacancies in vital sectors like agriculture, food retail, logistics, care and others.
Looking for a change
You could also use the time to plan for a change in your circumstances like:
- getting a promotion - are there skills you need to move up in your job?
- changing career - explore new careers find out what skills you need or research an employer or a sector you’d like to work in
- how to think about or prepare for retirement
Help and support
If you’re not sure about your next steps for getting back into employment, you can speak to an adviser.