As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on economies across the globe, businesses are finding themselves in difficult positions. With revenues dwindling and expenses mounting, many companies have been forced to make tough decisions to keep their businesses afloat. Unfortunately, one of those decisions is often to furlough employees.
While furloughing may be a necessary measure to maintain a business`s bottom line, it can be particularly challenging for employees on zero-hour contracts. In this article, we`ll explore the implications of furloughing zero-hour contract employees.
What is a zero-hour contract?
A zero-hour contract is an employment arrangement in which there is no guaranteed number of hours of work. Instead, the employee is only paid for the hours they work. These types of contracts are often used in industries where demand for work fluctuates, such as retail, hospitality, and healthcare.
What is furlough?
Furlough is a temporary layoff from work. It`s a way for companies to reduce their labor costs during times of reduced demand. The government has implemented measures to support businesses and employees during the pandemic. One of those measures is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) which provides support for businesses to furlough their employees. Under the scheme, the government covers a portion of an employee`s wage, up to a certain cap, while they are furloughed.
Implications for zero-hour contract employees
While the CJRS provides some assistance to businesses, it may not be enough for zero-hour contract employees. That`s because the scheme only covers an employee`s average earnings over a specified period. For zero-hour contract employees who have irregular earnings, this can leave them with very little support.
In addition, zero-hour contract employees may not be eligible for other forms of support that are available to employees on full-time contracts. For example, they may not be able to receive sick pay, maternity pay, or redundancy pay.
What can zero-hour contract employees do?
If you`re a zero-hour contract employee who has been furloughed, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself. First, make sure that you`re receiving the support that you`re entitled to under the CJRS. If you have any questions about the scheme, speak to your employer or a qualified professional.
In addition, consider whether you`re eligible for other forms of support. For example, if you`re unable to work because you`re sick or self-isolating, you may be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). Similarly, if you`ve been made redundant, you may be eligible for redundancy pay.
Finally, it`s essential to stay informed about your rights and options as a zero-hour contract employee. The government and various agencies have published guidance on the rights of workers during the pandemic. Make sure to research and read up on your rights and options.
Furlough can be a challenging time for all employees, but it can be particularly difficult for those on zero-hour contracts. While the CJRS provides some financial support, it may not be enough for employees with irregular earnings. Zero-hour contract employees should research their rights and options and seek advice when necessary to ensure that they receive the support they`re entitled to.