Last week’s poll: has your employer ‘furloughed’ any workers?

Many engineers are pooling their resources to combat Covid-19 while others have been furloughed from the battle by employers in receipt of a government incentive to retain employees.

Furlough is a leave of absence designed to protect employees from redundancy. Introduced by chancellor Rishi Sunak, the scheme will see government pay 80 per cent of an employee’s salary up to £2500, with the employer paying the remainder at their discretion.

Read more Covid-19 content from The Engineer

The Coronavirus job retention scheme is initially in place for three months and open to all UK employers that operate a PAYE system. Applicable to any type of UK organisation, the scheme is also open to full and part time employees, plus those on agency contracts or flexible/zero hour contracts.

Of the 2,600 people that took part in our weekly poll, 45 per said that a large number of employees at their company had been placed on furlough leave. A quarter of respondents said that furlough was currently applicable to a small number of employees, and 30 per cent reported that its business as usual at their company.

Click here for more information on the Coronavirus job retention scheme

In the comments that followed, Dave Richardson said: “My firm has furloughed more than half its mobile engineer workforce and are not planning to make up the 20% shortfall in pay. And now are planning to subcontract out work, on an ad hoc basis to fill the gap between manpower and capacity required. That cannot be right surely? And it seems that although the furloughed staff are to get 80% of their basic pay, those who are still working, should they fall ill, will only be entitled to SSP. I looked in the mirror, but couldn’t see “mug” on my forehead, but it sure feels like it!”

Brian said: “A company has a requirement to remain solvent. They can’t pay you if there is no money coming in without racking up huge debits, which will put the business in jeopardy. Like the laws of physics, the laws of economics can’t be broken no matter how nice you think it might be!”

Employer Craig added:My understanding would be that the alternative is redundancies. I am in a similar position, but I am the employer. We are keen to furlough all staff but have no way of paying them until the monies arrive from government and we don’t want to proceed with forced redundancies either. It’s a very difficult position for both employees and employer.”