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Furloughed staff "volunteering" at work

A staff member was furloughed on the 10th and said they will volunteer 1 or 2 tasks.

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A charity I am involved with furloughed an employee for the first time on the 10th. I stated as clearly as possible by letter, email, and phone that when the chair contacted the employee to explain the rules, the most important one is that no work is to be done during furlough. I even added and underlined it in the furlough letter they had to sign before I could place them on furlough.

I have received feedback that the employee wants to (and probably will) "volunteer" to complete some small tasks that, if they were not on furlough, they would normally be paid for. It is challenging to police this as I work remotely, and they normally work unsupervised outside office hours. The intention of furloughing now was to enable us to take advantage of the part time option due to the ongoing but reduced requirement for their role.

How do you recommend I proceed?

Replies (18)

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By Paul Crowley
13th Jun 2020 19:28

I emailed my staff saying that it would be a criminal act to do any work for my firm during their period of furlough. I have spoken to them, but not seen them.
The employer gives a direct instruction. Failure to comply should result in disciplinary action for employee. If employer knows or accepts work being done then employer does not claim furlough grant for that employee.

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By lesley.barnes
13th Jun 2020 19:35

Who is going to agree to the employee working? Are you an employee or is this a client?

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By Paul Crowley
13th Jun 2020 19:37

Thank you for using a human name. Trouble is you are likely to get agressive, rude and inappropriate responses from the trolls without the good grace to use a human name.
https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/any-answers/could-we-cultivate-a-kinder-...

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By CHRISTINA GORHAM
13th Jun 2020 19:54

I did think twice about this but hope to get more helpful replies this way.

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Replying to CHRISTINA GORHAM:
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By Paul Crowley
13th Jun 2020 20:10

Easiest solution is for chair or other non furloughed to do the tasks before the furloughed does. That of course assumes that the employee intends to disregard a direct instruction. Alternatively explain to employee how much money will be lost to the charity if she willfully works.

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By Wanderer
14th Jun 2020 05:50

Paul Crowley wrote:

Thank you for using a human name. Trouble is you are likely to get agressive, rude and inappropriate responses from the trolls without the good grace to use a human name.

Somewhat a generalisation?
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By Ben McLintock
13th Jun 2020 20:06

Are you responsible for making claims?

I would respond firmly - by email so you have a record - to any correspondence discussing the possibility of this voluntary work being undertaken, stating that doing so would effectively bring the employee's furlough period to an end, and you would have to prepare subsequent claims on that basis.

If you later become aware that work has been undertaken despite your warnings, then consider the impact on any claims already received and calculate how much to pay back.

Folk are so annoying. Rules are rules.

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Replying to Ben McLintock:
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By Paul Crowley
13th Jun 2020 20:18

For that furloughed person all claims for June on V1 CJRS and all claims for full period of V2 CJRS

I would be reluctant to claim June until I knew the facts

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Replying to Paul Crowley:
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By CHRISTINA GORHAM
13th Jun 2020 20:22

I was planning on submitting the claim after our payroll at the end of the month so will review the situation and legality then.

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Replying to CHRISTINA GORHAM:
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By Paul Crowley
13th Jun 2020 20:39

Spot on right thing to do. For my clients I deliberately waited until month end before claiming.

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By CHRISTINA GORHAM
13th Jun 2020 20:21

I have just sent a sample of your replies to the chair pointing out the criminal side of allowing this voluntary work and the fact I will cancel our claim relating to this employee if they do any work (paid or voluntary). I'm trusting they are sensible enough to realise that as this is the first time this employee has been furloughed, the cancelation will result in us being unable to furlough them at all.

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Replying to CHRISTINA GORHAM:
By Moonbeam
13th Jun 2020 22:55

It's all about standing up to people who don't take their jobs as seriously as you do yours.

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Replying to CHRISTINA GORHAM:
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By Paul Crowley
14th Jun 2020 02:01

If that person is furloughed then she is being paid. Anything he does is paid for. The talk of volunteering is nonsensical

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RLI
By lionofludesch
14th Jun 2020 07:13

Simply point out to this gormless employee that furlough means not working. If she works, she gives up her right to 80% of her pay and, as she intends to perform these duties as a volunteer, it's doubtful whether she has a right to be paid for the hours she does put in.

This is an employment contract issue.

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Replying to lionofludesch:
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By C Graham
17th Jun 2020 13:57

I don't think the OP states whether this is male or female.

And whilst the replies agree, it would be useful to point out conditions to said employee, that person presumably has accepted a contractual agreement to be furloughed and that volunteering would amount to a breach of their contract.

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By pauljohnston
17th Jun 2020 10:22

I can understand the employee wanting to do the right thing but the furlough rules dont allow this. As you guys have indicated the Chair should tell that employee if she/he does it then her furlough claim will fail and she will be on unpaid leave .

This is the problem with Civil Servants creating rules. They have little idea of the real world. Flexible furlough from day 1 would have cut down state expenditure and helped more businesses to exit quicker.

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Replying to pauljohnston:
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By C Graham
17th Jun 2020 14:06

well it was rushed through - and then the consequences dealt with.
And anything too flexible would have probably been worse.

Whole thing was to avoid redundancies which might happen anyway when the furlough scheme ends. would have been better to simply have given companies the option to a percentage buffer of their payroll (capped based on number of employees) and let the company determine how they applied it - eg to workers on reduced hours, salary - but could have resulted in the company being able to manage its workforce rather than force out employees for 3 weeks plus - in order to qualify.

And in fact the OP gives an example of where furlough fails because you have an employee furloughed and on reduced income who still wants to work. Yet under the rules they can't.

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