Which employees can be furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

An employer can furlough an employee under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme only if the employee had previously been furloughed for a period of at least three consecutive weeks falling any time between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. The employer must have already made a successful claim for the employee under the scheme. The last day on which an employer could have furloughed an employee for the first time was 10 June 2020.

There is an exception to the cut-off date of 10 June 2020 for employees who are returning from statutory family leave or who are military reservists returning from active duty.

To have been eligible to be furloughed, the employee must have been on the employer's payroll on 19 March 2020, and the employer must have made a real time information (RTI) submission to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in respect of them by that date. If an employee had been on the payroll on 28 February 2020 (and the employer had made an RTI submission in respect of them), but the employer had subsequently made them redundant, or their employment had ended in some other way, the employer could have rehired the employee and placed them on furlough.

An employee must not do any work for, or on behalf of, the employer while they are on furlough.

There is no restriction as to employment status - the scheme covers workers on "flexible or zero hours contracts" and those on agency contracts. There is no qualifying service requirement for an employee to be furloughed.

The HMRC guidance on the scheme states that employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis are eligible for furlough; as are employees who are advised to shield themselves. It also states that employees who are on sick leave or who are self-isolating can be furloughed, provided that they are not in receipt of statutory sick pay. Eligibility to be furloughed in all these circumstances is subject to the rule that (with limited exceptions) employees cannot be furloughed for the first time after 10 June 2020.