Can I Study Whilst Furloughed?

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You, like many of our learners, may be currently furloughed due to Coronavirus/COVID-19 but we are here to support you and let you know that your professional and personal development can continue whilst you are temporarily unable to work.

What does furlough mean?

Furloughing happens when a company has not got the work nor the funds to keep employees on as normal. The government promise to pay 80% of furloughed employees earnings for at least three months. This will be reviewed in June and will be extended if needed.

Furloughing is essentially suspending an employee and the government will pay 80% of that employee’s salary up to £2,500 per month. The employer can top up the 20% so that they receive full pay, if they are able to. The payment can be backdated to the 1st of March, and only employees that started after 28th February 2020 are eligible.

Can I get another job?

A furloughed employee can get another job, provided it does not interfere with their contracted hours. For example, a 9-5 worker would be able to get a weekend, evening or night shift position for the period in which they are furloughed.

What can I do whilst I am furloughed?

According to government guidelines, a furloughed employee cannot undertake any work that is generating income or providing services for their employer.

However, a furloughed employee can:

  • undertake voluntary work if it does not contribute to revenue for or on behalf of their organisation
  • complete training – including a professional qualification or apprenticeship

Can I study whilst furloughed?

As undertaking a course, apprenticeship or professional qualification is not contributing to revenue, you can study if you have been furloughed. Planning for the future is essential as when things go back to normal, you want to go back to work having grown professionally during your furloughed period.

Many companies will actively encourage personal development whilst you are furloughed, as it’s a way to stay motivated, keeps your brain active and makes sure you’re ready for new challenges when you do return to work. It’s also a way to use your free time to yours and your company’s advantage by achieving something productive from your personal development plan.

Can I be paid less than minimum wage?

Yes, if 80% of your earnings amounts to less than the NMW. This is because National Minimum Wage is only required for the hours you are working. You may be eligible for support through Universal Credit.   

However, if workers are required to complete online training courses whilst they are furloughed, then they must be paid at least the NLW/NMW for the time spent training, even if this is more than the 80% of their wage that will be subsidised.

Information for furloughed apprentices

The ESFA have told us that updated guidance will be out shortly. In the interim they have shared their current main lines on furloughing which are as follows:

  • Furloughed apprentices can continue with their apprenticeships providing that it does not generate income or provide services to their employer.
  • Apprentices who are placed on furlough will be entitled to the support detailed in the scheme, and to continue training.
  • Any apprenticeship training undertaken will continue to be supported, and payments made to the provider.
  • The ESFA is now currently working with HMT and BEIS on their continued work on the Covid-19 Job Retention Scheme to understand how the scheme interacts with wages for those who are training.

We will endeavor to keep this page as up to date as possible but for the most up to date guidance please visit the government furlough advice page.

Sources/further reading:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/coronavirus-if-your-employer-has-told-you-not-to-work/

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/uk-furlough-scheme-job-protection

Are you looking to study a Professional Qualification whilst you're furloughed? We offer a range of Sales, Marketing, and Management courses that can be undertaken easily and efficiently from home. Our Distance Learning packages feature great tutor support, e-learning and book packs, and Blended Learning packages include all of the above along with interactive digital workshops until face-to-face workshops can resume later in the year.

Want to learn more? Find out why you should study whilst furloughedget in touch with an adviser today or download a prospectus.