Frequently Asked Questions

The Government's ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ has now been extended until the end of March 2021.

How does the extended scheme work?

The Government scheme involves the University placing staff on ‘furlough leave’ due to no work (or no normal levels of work) being available, or as a result of it not being possible to deliver work from home during the crisis. Staff are retained on the Payroll (and the University has committed to maintaining full pay). HMRC will then reimburse the University on 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2500/month.

Staff do not have to have been furloughed previously, but must have been on the payroll on 30th October 2020.


Can individuals be furloughed on a part-time basis (i.e. be able to carry out some work)?

The extended scheme allows  furloughed individuals to carry out some work (any number of hours on any shift pattern), with the University still able to claim based on any hours not worked. Further information can be found in the Job Retention Scheme Policy Guidance


Which roles are being furloughed?

Furloughed workers can be on any type of contract (inc full-time, part-time, flexible hours/fractional). The University is unlikely to be required to furlough as many roles as it did earlier in the pandemic (i.e. during the full lockdown) however this is naturally being kept under review as the situation (and scheme rules) evolve.

Roles to be furloughed are being determined on a case-by-case or team-by-team basis based on the rules of the scheme. These revolve around the availability of work and/or the extent to which work can be productively completed from home. Individuals can also be furloughed if they are unable to work due to caring responsibilities linked to coronavirus.


I work in a research-based role which has been impacted by the ongoing crisis, can/should I be furloughed?

It is possible to furlough staff in research-based roles subject to the nature/source of the funding in place, ensuring that the Government scheme rules are followed at all times. Advice should be sought from the relevant local HR Team when required.


I’ve been on maternity/adoption/shared parental/paternity leave, can I be furloughed on my return?

It is possible to be placed on furlough following other periods of leave (such as maternity) and it is expected that where  there is a requirement to utilise the scheme in these circumstances, line managers should discuss any particular plans as part of any normal return to work conversations.


What happens if I don’t want to be furloughed/flexibly furloughed?

In order to qualify for furlough payment (at 100% of salary) the University requires individual consent to temporarily change individuals to furlough/flexibly furloughed status. Where there is no work available and no agreement to temporarily change to furlough status the University will consider alternative options on a case by case basis appropriate to the circumstances.


What will I be paid whilst I am furloughed?

Staff on furlough leave will continue to receive their normal pay, including pension contributions and access to any other benefits (e.g. childcare vouchers)

For those with variable pay, the University will adopt the following approach to working out pay in line with the Government’s scheme rules. This will be the highest of either:

  • The same month’s earnings from the previous year
  • The average monthly earnings for the 2019-20* tax year

*note – if employed for less than 12 months this will be based on average monthly earnings from the relevant start date.


How long will the scheme run for?

The scheme has currently been extended until the end of March 2021.


Can I still do some work for the University whilst furloughed?

The scheme rules now permit furloughed individuals to carry out some work (any number of hours on any shift pattern), with the University still able to claim based on any hours not worked. Further information can be found in the Job Retention Scheme Policy Guidance.


Can I work for another employer whilst on furlough leave from the University?

Staff who hold second/other roles with other organisations may continue to work for them as normal (subject to normal rules around second/multiple roles, including seeking permission and adhering to limits on total weekly hours).

Staff considering taking up secondary employment whilst on furlough should be mindful of the short-term nature of furlough leave and the fact that the University may require them to return from furlough at relatively short notice. Normal permissions should be sought and discussed with line managers ahead of any other new employment being undertaken.


What happens if I am sick whilst on furlough leave?

If you fall ill whilst on furlough leave there is no requirement to formally report sickness in the normal way (you cannot be on sick leave and furlough leave at the same time). You should however still notify your line manager that you are unwell for the purposes of maintaining communication and to discuss any possible support you may require, where appropriate. This will not however be treated as an absence and will not be recorded as such in CoreHR.


Can I undertake training/personal development whilst on furlough leave?

Staff on furlough leave can engage in training and development activity (and this is encouraged) (providing that training does not provide a service to the University for those on ‘full’ furlough).

Further resources are available via the Employee and Organisational Development web portal.


Can I carry out volunteering whilst on furlough leave?

Staff on furlough leave can carry out volunteering activity providing this is in line with Public Health Scotland advice.

Staff interested in coronavirus related volunteering will find further information on the ‘Ready Scotland’ portal


Do I still accrue annual leave whilst on furlough leave?

Staff on furlough leave continue to accrue annual leave as normal. It is very important for physical and mental wellbeing that proper breaks are taken from work and, with this in mind, colleagues are encouraged to take at least some leave before the end of July. Whilst leave can be carried over to the next leave year, this will be limited to 10 days (except for those undertaking work deemed as essential). 


Can I take leave whilst furloughed?

Staff on furlough leave can take annual leave as normal. It is very important for physical and mental wellbeing that proper breaks are taken from work and, with this in mind, colleagues are encouraged to take at least some leave before the end of July. Whilst leave can be carried over to the next leave year, this will be limited to 10 days (except for those undertaking work deemed as essential). 


If I am on furlough leave when a public holiday falls, can I take that day another time?

Staff who are on furlough leave when a public holiday falls on what would otherwise have been a normal working day will be allocated that public holiday at that time the in the same way as applies to all other staff who remain at work (i.e. they will be unable to move it to a point later in the year). Part-time staff will continue to receive a pro-rata entitlement of annual leave to be deducted in line with normal leave rules.


I am on, or about to commence, a period of maternity/paternity/shared parental leave – how will this affect me?

The normal rules for these types of leave still apply. If you are already on leave, your manager may discuss with you the potential to be placed on furlough leave on your return. If you are furloughed but due to commence such leave, this will still happen in the normal way (e.g. at the point of childbirth or other pre-agreed date).


How long will I be on furlough leave?

The Government’s ‘Job Retention Scheme’ has been extended until the end of March 2021.  

The duration of any specific period of furlough leave will vary depending on individual circumstances and further information may be available via local line managers. Many furlough durations will naturally be influenced by Government advice around when and how the current restrictions may be lifted or eased. Those on furlough leave will receive further communication and notice ahead of any return to work.


Will being furloughed impact my role on my return to work?

There will be no impact on career progression or future prospects for staff identified as furloughed.

Furloughed status is a result of work that is not required during the unique circumstances we currently face and is in no way an indicator of the continuing value of that work during normal University operations. Colleagues identified for furlough leave should be reassured that this would not be a consideration in or pre-judge any future promotion or redundancy process.


Can I still use my email account whilst on furlough leave?

Staff on furlough leave can still access their University email accounts, and in many cases this will be a key method of maintaining contact and receiving relevant updates. It is vitally important however that in doing so, individuals do not carry out any work (including responding to work-related emails) during their period of furlough leave.