Coronavirus: Information for workers

The current coronavirus crisis is putting workers at risk, both financially and in terms of their health and wellbeing. We need to do all we can to protect ourselves in this crisis. Below we have set out the areas of employment law that we feel are most relevant. In doing so, we hope it will  help workers to get organised enabling them to defend themselves and stay safe during the pandemic. 

We should stress that, by themselves, employment laws offer little protection. Rather than relying on employment laws, we should use them as an aid to organising and as a means of putting pressure on management.  

This information has been put together by workplace activists rather than lawyers. The aim is to promote workers’ organisation and self-defence in the current circumstances. In the meanwhile, SolFed remains active in our workplaces and supporting other struggles. We are available through our usual communication channels. Get in touch and let’s share experiences and resources. Defend yourself!

Workers Furloughed under the Job Retention Scheme

Last update: 7th of August


-The Job Retention Scheme is now closed for new applicants.You can only be furloughed if you have been previously furloughed for at least three consecutive weeks between the 1st of March and the 30th of June.

-Flexible Furlough: From the 1st of July, employers can bring furloughed workers back for any amount of time and any shift pattern. If your boss puts you on flexible furlough they should:

  • Pay you for the hours worked at your normal rate and they can claim for the rest of the hours to the Job Retention Scheme.
  • Flexible furlough needs to be agreed with you and written agreement should be made available.
  • The flexible furlough agreement needs to be consistent with employment, equality and discrimination laws.

-Scheme withdrawn:The Job Retention Scheme ids due to be fully withdrawn by October the 31st. In then meanwhile, employers’ contributions to the furlough wages are due to increase:

  • From August the 1st: the grant will cover 80% of the furlough wages. Employers will have to pay ER NICs and pension contributions.
  • From September the 1st: the grant will cover 70% of furlough wages. Employers will have to pay ER NICs and pension contributions and at top up at least to the 80% of the furlough wages.
  • From October the 1st: the grant will cover 60% of furlough wages. Employers will have to pay ER NICs and pension contributions and at top up at least to the 80% of the furlough wages.


What is being furloughed?
When your employer send you home because there is no work for you or they are not able to operate but, to avoid redundancies or unpaid lay-offs, classifies you as a “furloughed worker” in order to access the “Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme”
You can be furloughed under the Job Retention Scheme:
  • If you have been sent home because there is no work for you due to the pandemic
  • If you have been told to self-isolate by the NHS
  • If you have to look after someone or you are shielding someone
Who is eligible:

All workers paying PAYE (Pay As You Earn) tax are eligible. That includes workers on Zero-hours or agency workers…

  • You must have been on the payroll before March the 20th of 2020.
  • You are still entitled to be furloughed if you are on long term sick leave.
How it works:
You have to agree with your employer to be classified as a “furloughed worker” under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. If you have been classified as a “furloughed worker” you are still employed and you are kept on the payroll.
You are entitled to 80% of your wages with a cap of £2,500 per worker per month, backdated from March the 1st. Your boss can choose to pay you the difference but does not have to by law.
How your wages will be calculated:

-If you have been working for a year or more you can claim whichever is higher:

  • Your wages for the same month last year
  • Your average monthly wages last year

-If you have been working for less than one year then the amount will be calculated from your average monthly wage since you started

-If you have started in February 2020: your monthly wages pro-rata

Bonuses, commissions and fees are not included as wages.

Holiday entitlement:
  • If you are furloughed under the Job Retention Scheme, your holiday entitlement will continue to accrue. If you take holiday pay whilst furloughed, this should be paid at the normal rate.
  • If you have been on unpaid leave after the 28th of February you can be furloughed instead.
  • If you were on unpaid leave on or before the 28th of February you can be furloughed from the date you agreed to return to work.
If you have more than one job:
  • You can be furloughed in more than one job and can keep working in others that you have not been furloughed in
  • You can be furloughed in all of them
  • The £2,500 per month cap applies to each individual job.
Working while furloughed:

You cannot undertake any work for your employer while furloughed unless you are place on Flexible Furlough (see above). 

Training while furlough:

While furlough you can be asked to carry out some training in which case you must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage 

Claiming Universal Credit:
  • If you are earning less because you are furloughed you may be able to claim UC
  • If you are already claiming UC, you can keep doing so, but your UC payments may vary
Further information:

Sick Pay


We are updating this section


Self-employment Income Support Scheme


We are updating this section


If you need time off to care for someone


We are updating this section





General rights at work:

The Stuff Your Boss doesn’t want you to know

For further information:

Your rights at work during the coronavirus pandemic

Full rights at work guide elaborated by Manchester-SolFed

The right to refuse work that is unsafe 

United Voices of the World guide on Section 44 and the COVID-19

Care worker organising in a pandemic

Article for care workers elaborated by Brighton-SolFed

PPE and agency workers

Article on the Personal Protection Equipment by Manchester-SolFed