Can an employer place an employee on furlough leave if they are off sick?

The guidance published by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme states that, while the scheme "is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness", employers can furlough employees who are off sick if they have "business reasons" for doing so. The employee should not receive statutory sick pay (SSP) while they are furloughed. If an employee falls ill during a period of furlough, there is no obligation on the employer to end the period of furlough and move the employee onto SSP (although the employer can choose to do so).