how it works and how much you will get paid

Your “usual” working hours is calculated whatever number of hours you were contracted to work, at your last pay date before March 19.

For those on variable hours, it will be based on the average number of hours worked in the 2019/2020 tax year which finished on April 5.

Those who have been furloughed but had accepted a pay cut for any hours worked must check the agreement they made with their employer.

Some employers faced a moral dilemma when it came to how they cut costs during the pandemic – having to make difficult decisions on which employees were put on furlough – reducing them to 80pc pay – and which they kept on full time with full pay.

Some chose to reduce working employees to 80pc pay to ensure no one lost out from a decision that was out of their hands. 

However, those who agreed to a voluntary pay cut may now find themselves being paid less than those who return from furlough on 100pc of their previous wage.

Kathleen Heycock of Farrer & Co, a law firm, said unless employees agree to take a pay cut, employers must have 100pc for any hours that are worked. There is a strong moral argument that employers should pay their staff in full for any hours they are contracted to work unless they have a genuine business need to reduce pay.

She said: “Coronavirus and the furlough scheme has not created a carte blanche to reduce pay by 20pc in any circumstance. I would not advise any employee to take a coronavirus-relatedpay cut without specifying an end date.”

Workers will continue to receive 80pc of their current salary up to £2,500 a month, for the time they are furloughed.

From August businesses will need to pay National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions for the hours the employee is on furlough.

Employers will need to share the burden of paying salaries with the Government from September, when they must contribute 10pc and the Government 70pc. This rises to 20pc in October. 

Furloughed workers can boost their monthly pay by taking annual leave. Furlough is a form of unpaid leave so taking holiday time, ie paid leave, during this period seems like it would be unnecessary. But the Government has confirmed that annual leave must be paid at the employee’s normal wage under working time regulations, so your wage is bumped back up to 100pc for any time you take off during furlough.

More than 9.3 million jobs have been furloughed, costing the Government an enormous £25.5bn.

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