COVID-19 wellbeing hub. Look after your wellbeing on furlough

Around six million people across the UK have been ‘furloughed’ by their employers so far. The chances are that if you work in hospitality you could well be one of them.

Furlough – otherwise known as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – is a way of allowing companies struggling with the coronavirus fallout to avoid making people redundant. 

It’s a temporary leave of absence. While you are on it, you receive 80% of your wages up to £2,500 a month from a government grant, distributed by the company you work for.

That allows your employer to take you off their payroll as they try to weather the coronavirus storm. Regardless of whether you work for a hotel, restaurant, caterer, all companies that have employees are eligible for the scheme. So how does it work?

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

  • What Is It? The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was introduced on 1 March 2020 as a temporary scheme to operate for at least three months and is open to all UK employers. The scheme supports companies who have been severely affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. It is now scheduled to run until the end of October. 
  • What Are You Entitled To? The government will provide a grant to employers to cover 80% of wages for furloughed staff, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. The government will also pay National Insurance contributions and the minimum pension entitlement. The employee’s salary while on furlough will be subject to usual income tax and other deductions. Your employer can cover the remaining 20% of your wage if they are able to.

 

 

  • Who Is Eligible? The scheme is open to all UK employers that had created a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 28 February 2020. This includes businesses, charities, recruitment agencies (using PAYE), and public authorities. Employees on any contract are eligible, including full-time, part-time, and agency. The scheme also covers those who were made redundant before 28 February, if their employer rehires them.
  • What happens if I receive payments through the tronc? Unfortunately, the government does not currently allow employers to include “any tips, including those distributed through troncs” when calculating wages for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This also includes any service charge the business you work for levies on the bill. That means if your wages include an element of tronc payment – perhaps because you work front of house in a restaurant – it can’t be included in your furlough payment. Employers can meet tronc payments at their own cost but it is not required of them and some may struggle to do so.

Look after your Wellbeing on Furlough.

Hospitality is a business like few others. On the one hand there can be immense pressure and long hours, but on the other it offers a huge sense of satisfaction when you make guests happy. You only have to meet a proud head chef and their tight-knit kitchen team to know that hospitality work can create a strong sense of belonging and identity. Suddenly being furloughed and having that all taken away – if only temporarily – is tough. But there are ways to cope:

Image: Max van den Oetelaar/Unsplash

  • Create a New Routine. Our jobs contribute significantly to our daily routine and suddenly being without this structure can have a negative effect on our wellbeing. You may find yourself becoming bored, unmotivated and unsure what to do with your time. It is important that you try to stick to a routine during this time. Try to wake up at reasonable times, ensure you get some daily activity in, make sure you socialise – telephone, Zoom, and online games can be great for this - and use the time productively to learn a new skill or take up a new hobby. You might consider volunteering.
  • Face the Fear of The Unknown. You may also be facing a fear of the unknown during this time. You may be worried about how ‘temporary’ this change might be. You may be concerned as to whether the Retention Scheme will change as time goes on. Perhaps you are anxious about whether your employer will close the business altogether at some point. The best thing you can do when faced with these kinds of worries is to keep up to date with government communications. It is also important to keep an open line of contact with your employer so you can express any worries to them.
  • Talk to Those Around You. The negative effect on your wellbeing can very quickly pass on to those you live with. It is therefore important that you are open with members of your household. Let them know if you are struggling with not being at work - they may be able to suggest ways of getting through this together. This may be a particular challenge if you live with people who are still working.

 

  • Support your Employees. If you are a manager and still working, it is important that you continue to provide support to your team members. Some employees may be feeling guilty if other members of the team are able to work. They may be worried about the future of their jobs. Some may be worried about being isolated, especially if they live alone. Keep in contact with your team and reassure them if possible. Be open and transparent with them. It is important to explain the situation and avoid making any false promises. If you know they have a difficult home situation – perhaps relationship problems, domestic violence or a vulnerable family member– be sure to signpost them to appropriate sources of help such as local authorities or Hospitality Action.
  • Get Emotional Support. If your wellbeing is suffering while on furlough and you would like to speak with one of our trained counsellors, we are here to help as always. If you do not wish to speak with somebody, but would still like some advice on wellbeing, make use of the extensive website on our portal Well Online. Here you will find excellent information and guidance on a range of subjects from stress and anxiety to nutrition and sleep.
  • Legal Advice. We offer legal advice which is provided by a team of specialist barristers, solicitors and executives with legal, accountancy and banking backgrounds who share access to an extensive law library and online legal research materials. If you are unsure about any of the legalities surrounding furlough, we can help to clear these up for you and ensure you have the correct information.
  • Financial Advice. If you are concerned about your finances during this period, we offer debt information which is delivered over the phone by specialist advisors who can examine financial commitments and spending patterns. Some of the areas our team can offer help with are unsecured debt, budgeting, spending habits, and negotiations with creditors.

Further Frequently Asked Questions.

Hospitality Action’s partners at Law Express have compiled a further list of frequently asked questions. This set of questions cover:

Image: Jon Tyson/Unsplash

Other Resources.

 

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme:

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

Mental Health UK on Wellbeing and Furlough:

https://mentalhealth-uk.org/blog/supporting-employeeson-furlough/

Money Saving Expert on Employment Help during Coronavirus: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/ coronavirus-self-employed-and-employment-help/