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Forced to Furlough


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Can I Be Forced to Furlough?

No one would have an issue with being furloughed on full pay. But what if your employer is only paying you the maximum that the furlough scheme allows, and is refusing to make up the difference so that you can get your full wages? If your employer asks you to go on furlough and you refuse you may be at risk of redundancy or termination of employment, depending on the circumstances of your employer. However, this must be in line with normal redundancy rules and protections.

Generally, you cannot be forced to furlough because you have the right to pay for being ready and willing to work. The exception would be where your employment contract has an unambiguous clause which allows your employer to unilaterally vary its terms. However, this should not result in a reduction in your pay because you retain your right to normal contractual pay.  If your employer puts you on 80% pay and instructs you to do no work without agreement or without properly using a variation clause, you have three options;

1 Consider yourself dismissed and claim full notice pay (contractual or statutory) and unfair dismissal (including potentially any contractually enhanced redundancy pay);

2 Consider yourself dismissed but then accept the furlough and claim for unfair dismissal.

3 Make it clear that you do not accept the reduction in pay, and then claim the reduction either contractually or as an unlawful deduction of wages.

Whatever, you decide to do you must first raise a grievance and go through ACAS Early Conciliation.

Last Updated: [11/09/2021]