Can an employee be furloughed if they are on maternity leave, or other family-related leave?

Guidance published by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme confirms that employers can claim under the scheme for employees who are on family-related statutory leave.

The employee should continue to receive any statutory maternity or other family-related pay to which they are entitled while they are furloughed. The HMRC guidance confirms that employers can claim through the scheme for enhanced contractual maternity or other family-related pay they pay to furloughed employees.

Where an employee has exhausted their entitlement to maternity pay, they may wish to agree with the employer to end their maternity leave and be furloughed, if this would allow them to receive 80% of their wages (up to £2,500 per month). Employees who wish to return early from maternity leave should give their employer at least eight weeks' notice, or the employer can agree to a shorter notice period. The HMRC guidance states that the employer cannot furlough an employee before the end of the notice period.