The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was announced by Chancellor of the Exchequor Rishi Sunak last month, as an emergency measure following the financial impact of the UK coronavirus epidemic. However, while some employees will be able to get 80 percent of their wages up to £2,500 being paid through this scheme, other workers have found themselves unable to be granted furlough leave.
- Martin Lewis reveals way to boost savings by £1000 – but act now
A loophole in the government’s bailout has meant that new starters who began working for a new employer after February 28, 2020, are not eligible for the scheme.
Guidance on the government website states: “Any UK employer with a UK bank account will be able to claim, but you must have been on your employer’s PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020.
“You can be on any type of contract, including a zero-hour contract or a temporary contract.”
Tolu Adams, 22, graduated last year, and began working for a PR agency as soon as she had finished her university exams.
The account executive, from Bedfordshire, had been travelling into London each day, and with her commute sometimes taking up to two hours, the journey took its toll on her mental and physical health.
Tolu suffers with anemia, and explains that the condition means she doesn’t have strong energy levels which meant she struggled a lot with all the travelling.
She later found a job closer to home – a different PR agency which was only a 20 to 30 minute drive from her house.
Tolu handed in her notice for her former job at the end of January, and after working her one month notice period, her final day was in the final week of February 2020 – prior to the February 28 cut-off for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
BACK BRITAIN’S BRAVE NHS HEROES – CLICK HERE NOW
The PR executive’s official start date was on March 2, shortly before the UK began to feel the financial impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Two or three weeks ago, the coronavirus epidemic got really difficult for us to handle,” she explains.
With clients in the hospitality industry having been forced to close, the impact was felt in the company.
Tolu had hoped that she would be eligible to be put on furlough, but last week, was told that due to the February 28 payroll rule, she wouldn’t be eligible via her new employer. Because she didn’t qualify, she had to be let go.
“I was devastated because I’d started my job and lost my job in the space of a month,” she says.
Tolu has since contacted her old employer, asking on two occasions that they reinstate her for the purposes of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
“The guidance that’s out there is that you should go back to your old employers which I have twice, but they can’t reinstate me.”
Finding out she couldn’t be put on furlough leave by her previous employer was tough. “[It was] really distressing and upsetting,” she says.
“I struggled to click on it [the notification] for a really long time because I knew what it was going to say.”
She adds: “For me to have to go back and beg, was just horrible. I feel like my dignity was stripped.”
Earlier this week, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News’ Kay Burley @ Breakfast show: “The chancellor has launched unprecedented size of schemes to help the employed, to help the self-employed, to help businesses themselves.
“There will be circumstances under which not every single last business or individual is helped.
- Furlough scheme: Do you get taxed on furlough?
“This is unfortunately the nature of the scale of this thing.”
Tolu saw the comments make by Mr Shapps. She says of his remarks: “To me, it broke my heart because me and thousands of people are basically collateral damage – that’s what I took from that.
“It’s just not right. I have been working in PR since I was 19. I put so much time and effort into my career, my degree, my experience. And so many other people have. And for us to lose our jobs and then to lose our income in the space of a month is just so upsetting.”
She points out that she signed her contract for her new job at the end of January, and adds: “It is proof that I’m not somebody that’s trying to take advantage of the system. I just want to be included.”
Like so many, Tolu has living costs to pay for. “Car repayments, credit card payments, overdrafts – I don’t know how I’m going to pay for any of that,” she says.
As well as covering her rent, she also planned to pay off credit cards with her new job.
“This new job wasn’t just helping with my mental health and physical health, it was allowing me to start my life financially,” she says.
“There’s loads of things that I’d started to do, that knowing I was in a better place financially and mentally, I could now pay rent, look after myself and things like that.
“All these things that I’d started to do, I’d started to do knowing that I would have income coming in and now I don’t have any income.”
She’s spoken to other people in the same position as her who have had to apply for Universal Credit in order to cope.
Tolu says of her own situation: “As far as I’m concerned, applying for Universal Credit is my last option because I don’t want to put further strain on a system – I think it’s quite funny that the government’s alternative is to make me claim for benefits.”
“It’s a massive slap in the face because I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve done nothing wrong and I feel like I’m being punished,” she adds.
Tolu hopes that the government could amend the guidelines to include employees who started work in March.
“There are people, like me and thousands of others, that weren’t put on the payroll until the end of March, but we have proof that we were hired way before any of this had happened,” she points out. “It would be lovely for them to include us.”
Mary Walker, partner at law firm Gordons and an expert in employment law, commented: “Some argue that old employers can rehire an individual to furlough them.
“Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert, for example, says he has it confirmed from the Treasury that this is allowed, but until I see something concrete from HMRC to confirm, I think it could be a potential abuse of the scheme.
“The guidance says that any UK employer with a UK bank account will be able to claim, but the employee must have been on the employer’s PAYE payroll on 28 February 2020.
“The problem is that the guidance is so very limited. HMRC will undoubtedly audit the scheme in the future and employers do need to be cautious of not inadvertently claiming back for employees that were not eligible.”
Express.co.uk has contacted HM Treasury asking for further information.
Have you been affected financially by the coronavirus crisis? If you’re interested in sharing your story, please get in touch by emailing [email protected]
Source: Read Full Article