You'll find the University's guidance on furloughing here.
We've also produced a set of FAQs specifically related to the furloughing process:
What does Furlough mean?
The word ‘furlough’ (which is new to UK Employment Law) generally
means temporary leave of absence from work.
This can be due to economic conditions affecting one company, or matters
affecting the whole country. The UK
government has adopted this term when setting out the arrangements for
supporting employers and employees in response to the unprecedented situation
presented by the COVID-19 pandemic with a view to avoiding redundancies.
The government has introduced a scheme called the ‘Coronavirus
Job Retention Scheme’ whereby UK employers can apply for a grant to cover a
proportion of furloughed employees’ wages during this crisis in the event that
the employers’ operations are severely affected by COVID19. Employees may be eligible to be furloughed if
they have been on their employer’s payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and their salary cost is
not directly attributed to public funding.
Why is the University
There are a number of roles at the University, all of which are
extremely valuable during normal operations, but which are very difficult (or
not possible) to carry out from home. In
addition, the activity on campus has scaled back considerably as students are
now all studying remotely.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme helps employers reclaim the
cost of employing people who are unable to work at home and in order to access
it, the University needs to furlough the staff (or some of the staff where there
is a reduction rather than a cessation of work) who undertake these roles.
Why is my role being
The decision to designate certain roles as being furloughed is
not related to the value placed on the role by the University. We have identified roles that cannot be
undertaken at home and which are typically funded by external income, such as
accommodation and event fees and so on.
How has the University
decided who should be furloughed?
The decision whether or not to furlough roles has been
determined by establishing those roles which are unable to be carried out
remotely. The source of funding has also
been another factor as this is relevant to the eligibility for the government
scheme. To be eligible for the scheme, the salary cost
must be attributed to funding other than the funding the University receives
from the Scottish Funding Council. Where
there is room for some discretion, e.g. where a skeleton staff is required,
individual circumstances will be taken into account, wherever possible.
What can I do if I don’t want
to be furloughed?
This is a very difficult time for everyone and the University
has a duty to act in a way to protect the interests of all employees. Decisions on which roles to furlough have
been driven by operational need. Where
there is some discretion about who should be furloughed individual
circumstances are taken into account as much as possible.
To be furloughed, your written agreement is required. The University
will write to each member of staff proposed to be designated as a furloughed
worker seeking their consent. If you do not wish to agree to this arrangement,
then unfortunately we may need to consider exploring other options, such as
unpaid leave or redundancy.
What does this mean for my
employment contract with the University?
Being furloughed has no impact on your employment status with
the University. Your continuous service
will be unaffected and at all times you will remain employed by the University. Please note that this also means that the
obligations placed on you as an employee, e.g. in relation to confidentiality,
continue to apply.
What is the difference
between furlough and being laid off or made redundant?
The decision to furlough roles has been taken as a short-term
measure to deal with the immediate operational and financial challenges that
the University is currently experiencing.
Staff who are furloughed remain on the payroll, so is different to being
laid off without pay, or being made redundant.
If I am furloughed, am I more
likely to be made redundant in the future?
No. If there is a need to
make any roles redundant in the future, decisions will be made on the future
needs of the University and not whether your role was furloughed, or not.
Can I undertake any work for
the University while I am furloughed?
No. You are not able to
do any work for the University whilst you are furloughed. You may still access your work email for
personal matters but must not send or respond to any work-related emails while
you are furloughed. You may be asked to
join occasional meetings with the purpose of being kept up to date with
Can I undertake training while I am furloughed?
Yes, and we would encourage you to do
this as long as in undertaking the training you do not provide services to, or
generate revenue for, or on behalf of the University.
Can I get in touch with my work colleagues when I am furloughed?
Yes. Maintaining social contacts with
your colleagues is absolutely fine and recommended while you are furloughed. Your manager will maintain appropriate
contact with you during any periods of furlough.
How long will furlough last for?
The minimum amount of time that someone
can be furloughed is three weeks.
Currently the government scheme is available until 30 June,
although it may be extended. Your letter
will confirm the initial duration of your furlough period. The University will keep the situation under
constant review and your furlough period could be ended earlier if
What happens to my salary while I am furloughed?
Based upon Government guidance, we anticipate being in a
position to reclaim 80% of your normal basic salary up to a maximum of £2,500
(gross) per month while you remain furloughed.
However, the University will top this up and also pay full salaries
where they are in excess of the cap of £2,500, so you will receive your normal
basic salary during this time. We reserve the
right to review this arrangement should the need arise and you would be
informed of this in writing in advance, with at least 7 days’ notice. Overtime or additional payments are not
Is it the Government or the University who pays me while I am
You will continue to receive your
normal salary from the University. The
University will apply to the government for funding to cover 80% of your salary
(up to a maximum of £2,500 per month) but this will not affect your pay
arrangements. Your pay will continue to
be subject to the usual tax and National Insurance deductions.
What happens if the Government does not repay the 80% back to
If the University has identified your
role to be furloughed and you have agreed to this temporary variation in your
terms and conditions, you will receive your normal basic salary during this
time. We reserve the right to review this arrangement
should the need arise and you would be informed of this in writing in
advance. If subsequently, the Government
does not pay the University a proportion of your salary, you will not be asked
to repay any monies.
What happens to my pension during the furlough period?
anticipate being in a position to reclaim employer pension contributions up to
the level of the minimum automatic enrolment employer contribution (3% on
qualifying earnings). If you are a
member of the pension fund, the University will top this up so that you your
normal employer pension contributions (which are over 20%) continue during the
furlough period. The University reserves
the right to review this should the need arise and you would be informed of
this in writing in advance. The pension
contributions that you make will be unaffected during this time.
What happens to my annual leave while I’m furloughed?
will continue to accrue annual leave during the furlough period. You are expected to continue to request and
take your annual leave in the normal way and should note that you may be asked
to take periods of annual leave while you are furloughed. All leave accrued in the current leave year
must be taken by 31 August 2020. There
will be no carry-over of annual leave for this year only, except in exceptional
circumstances due the nature of the role and with authorisation from the Dean
or Director of Service.
Can I work elsewhere while I am furloughed?
Your current contractual obligations
regarding working elsewhere continue to apply while you are furloughed and you
should ensure that there is no conflict of interest. You should obtain approval from your Dean/Director
if you wish to take up employment elsewhere.
Do I have to be available for work while I’m furloughed?
No, you don’t need to be available for
work while you are furloughed. However,
we may need to be in touch with you to discuss the furlough arrangements and we
may ask you to return to work at relatively short notice as government guidance
changes. We will endeavor to give you as
much notice as possible, although given that the response to COVID-19 is
changing so rapidly, it may not be possible to provide you with much notice.
What happens if I’m ill while I’m furloughed?
If you become ill while you are
furloughed, you should notify your manager in the normal way so that you can
receive appropriate support. You will
remain on furlough leave for the agreed period as planned. If your furlough period is due to end and you
are not fit to return to work due to sickness, you will be treated as being off
sick in the normal way and receive associated occupational or statutory sick
pay, at the end of the furlough period.
Where it has been decided that an
employee is eligible to be furloughed and they are currently off sick, they
will receive a letter proposing to designate them as a furlough worker and if
they agree, they will be placed on furlough leave. It is important that they keep in touch with
their manager and inform them when they are no longer ill.
Are the trade unions aware of these arrangements?
We have discussed these arrangements with our two trade unions, the EIS
and UNISON, and they have consented to the University making the furlough
proposal directly to affected staff in their bargaining groups.
How will the period when I am
furloughed be treated in My Contribution?
While you are furloughed you are not able to undertake any work
so this period of time will be discounted when assessing your performance.
What happens if I am on
maternity leave or another type of family leave, or due to start it soon?
Employees who are on maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity
leave or shared parental leave will be unaffected by furlough and will receive
the normal enhanced contractual pay as per the University’s policies. If you
return from leave, then depending on the circumstances, you may then be
Can I undertake volunteer
work while I am furloughed?
You may with your
Dean/Director’s agreement, take part in unpaid voluntary work as long as it
does not provide a service to the University, or generate any revenue for, or
on behalf of the University.
The hours that I work at the University vary and I claim for the
hours that I work, can I still be furloughed?
Yes, if the University decides that
your role will be furloughed, you would receive a monthly payment that
represents either the same month’s earning from the previous year or your average
monthly earnings for the 2019-20 tax year (whatever is higher).
I am employed on a fixed term contract, can I be furloughed?
Yes, if the University decides that
your role will be furloughed.
Can I take up the COVID-19 Emergency Volunteering Leave if I am
on furlough leave?
If you wish to volunteer for the
health or social care services under the temporary Emergency Voluntary Leave
scheme, you must notify your manager and the HR team of your intentions.
Staff are entitled to be absent from work for
the purposes of Emergency Voluntary Leave providing they have obtained an
emergency volunteering certificate which is issued by an appropriate authority,
such as the NHS and given a minimum of three working days’ notice to the
University. The certificate confirms
that they have been approved as an emergency volunteer in health or social care
and will specify the period.
Emergency Voluntary Leave is unpaid
and can be taken in block of two, three or four weeks. Whilst on Emergency Voluntary Leave,
employees are entitled to return to their job after their period of leave and
will remain entitled to the benefit of all their usual terms and conditions of
employment, with the exception of any terms relating to pay/remuneration.