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Firms can rehire and furlough staff who left for new job

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06/04/2020
Workers who left their firm to start a new job elsewhere but had their plans derailed by coronavirus can be rehired and furloughed, the government has confirmed after a campaign.

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme allows businesses to apply for a government grant to cover up to 80% of salaries (maximum £2,500 a month) for people who are furloughed and not working, in a bid to prevent job losses. Employers can top-up salaries further, however.

Workers who were made redundant after 28 February 2020 as a result of coronavirus can be rehired and furloughed. But it wasn’t clear what this meant for staff who voluntarily left their jobs to start a new placement elsewhere.

A campaign by MoneySavingExpert.com’s founder Martin Lewis has seen the government clarify this scheme after it confirmed that nothing explicitly prevented firms from doing the same for staff who had left and then had their plans scuppered as a result of coronavirus.

The official confirmation stated: “The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is aimed at those who would otherwise be unemployed as a result of coronavirus. It allows for those who were on the payroll of a company on 28 February but subsequently left to be put back on payroll and furloughed.

“This includes those who have resigned to start a new job after 28 February. They may return to their old employer, but decisions around whether to offer to furlough someone are down to the individual company.”

Lewis said employers need to take on a moral duty to deliver these responsibilities for the betterment of individuals and the economy.

“If they re-recruit someone and furlough them, they can put them on 80% of salary and the state pays that salary, plus national insurance and any pension contribution. There’s no cost to the firm, though there may be a short-term cash flow issue.

“While I’ve heard many cases of firms furloughing those they had made redundant, those in need who left voluntarily have met a brick wall. Some firms are simply unwilling, and sadly the rules give them full discretion, leaving the new starters elsewhere nowhere to go. Yet others have good relationships with their former colleagues and have told them: ‘We would if we could, but the rules don’t allow it’.

“Now it’s official – the rules do allow it, and it would be wonderful if they deliver.”

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