FURLOUGHED workers can boost their wages over the two bank holiday weekends in May by taking annual leave.
Almost 5million workers are currently enrolled on the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme (CJRS), according to the latest Government figures.
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However, many will have since returned to work from April 12, when lockdown restrictions were eased and bars and restaurants could reopen for outdoor service and high street shops could welcome back customers.
But for those still relying on the scheme to provide income while their workplace remains temporarily closed, there's a way to boost your wages this weekend.
It all depends on your contract and whether you're normally required to work bank holidays.
Employees on the furlough scheme are paid 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 a month, by the Government.
Can I be made redundant if I’m on furlough?
EVEN though furlough is designed to keep workers employed, unfortunately it doesn’t protect you from being made redundant.
But it doesn't affect your redundancy pay rights if you are let go from your job amid the coronavirus crisis.
Your employer should still carry out a fair redundancy process.
You will be entitled to be consulted on the redundancy lay-off first and to receive a statutory redundancy payment, as long as you've been working somewhere for at least two years.
How much you're entitled to depends on your age and length of service, although this is capped at 20 years. You'll get:
- Half a week’s pay for each full year you were under 22,
- One week’s pay for each full year you were 22 or older, but under 41,
- One and half week’s pay for each full year you were 41 or older.
Sadly, you won't be entitled to a payout if you've been working for your employer for fewer than two years.
There should be a period of collective consultation as well as time for individual ones if your employer wants to make 20 or more employees redundant within 90 days or each other.
You are also entitled to appeal the decision by claiming unfair dismissal within three months of being let go.
If you're made redundant after your company has gone into administration you can claim redundancy pay via Gov.uk.
Bosses can choose to top them up to 100% but they don't legally have to.
The scheme was launched in March 2020 and has been running for a year now, meaning millions of workers have been forced to take a pay cut.
"If staff are contractually entitled to take bank holidays, they should be paid in full for any that fall during a period of furlough," explained Alan Price, human resources expert at BrightHR.
That means that furloughed workers should receive their full salary for the early May bank holiday, which falls next Monday, May 3.
It also applies to those still on the scheme at the end of the month for the second bank holiday on May 31.
Bank holiday pay in full
But it's not the same for everyone – for some workers, a bank holiday is considered a normal working day so will continue to receive just a portion of their pay.
Furloughed staff on these types of contracts can actually increase their income by taking annual leave on the bank holidays.
Staff can accrue and take holiday if they've been furloughed in the same way they would in normal working conditions.
It might not be a popular choice to take days of your holiday entitlement at a time when you can't use it to actually go away, but it can increase your pay packet if you need the cash.
Neha Thethi, head of employment at Lime Solicitors, said: "For those who are struggling to pay their bills, they may wish to take annual leave in order to boost their income.
"This is because annual leave must be paid at the employee’s normal rate of pay, rather than any reduced amount they receive during furlough."
It means employers must top up your furloughed wages with the remaining 20% for the days when you've taken some of your holiday entitlement.
But many employers are struggling to stay afloat during the pandemic lockdown and if yours can't afford to top up your salary, it may ask you to take the day in lieu when you return to your full salary.
For this to go ahead, you must give your formal consent.
Unfortunately, your employer doesn't have to agree to let you take the days as annual leave, so you will continue to be paid 80% of your wages under the scheme if they refuse.
They should, however, give you the time back in lieu at an agreed later date.
Many more workers are likely to be taken off the scheme, or at least partially, when hospitality businesses are allowed reopen for indoor service from May 17.
Employees can still be enrolled on the programme part-time if employers aren't able to offer them their full contracted hours.
It means they will be paid in full for the hours worked by their employer and receive up to 80% of pay from the Government for contracted hours not worked.
Sounds complicated? Here's our guide on how to calculate your wages if you're affected.
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