According to statistics released on May 12 highlighted, an estimated 7.5 million people have been furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic. One million businesses have used the job retention scheme in order to stay afloat and carry on paying their employees. However, weeks of no work can be a little boring and leave you feeling insecure. You want to know you’ll have a job to come back to and if that doesn’t look likely can you apply for another job if you’ve been furloughed?
How does furlough work?
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the job retention scheme will be available until Oct. 2020. If you’ve been furloughed you’ll continue to receive 80 percent of your salary up to £2,500 per month. Your company can then choose whether to top up the extra 20 percent. Furlough periods last for three weeks and you can be placed on furlough more than once. You can’t work for your employer during furlough.
Can you look for another job?
While you may not actually be doing your job, if your employer has put you on furlough then you’re still contracted at your company and could be in breach of contract if you take on a new role. You'll need to check your contract to ensure that taking on a temporary position won't affect your existing role in any way. The government website explains: “if your contract allows, you may undertake other employment while your current employer has placed you on furlough, and this will not affect the grant that they can claim under the scheme. You will need to be able to return to work for the employer that has placed you on furlough if they decide to stop furloughing you, and you must be able to undertake any training they require while on furlough.”
Citizen's Advice Bureau also recommends making sure that that HR at your original job knows you’re applying for temporary roles, and that the new job knows you'll only be there temporarily. Many supermarkets and fruit and vegetable picking roles have been advertised throughout the lockdown for people on furlough to pick up work. Lots of people picked up work with the likes of the Feed The Nation Scheme in order to fill their time and supplement their income during furlough. The work is flexible so in most cases not a breach of contact.
There’s nothing to stop you from looking and applying for other full time jobs during lockdown if you’re furloughed. However, if you get another full time job that will mean leaving the one you've been furloughed from then you should follow the same procedure as you normally would if you weren’t furloughed. You’ll essentially have to quit. This may mean filing the necessary paperwork, seeing out a notice period, having a tough conversation with your boss, and losing your furlough pay.