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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 72018
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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Can my employer legally place me on furlough leave for a

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JA: Hi. How can I help?
Customer: Can my employer legally place me on furlough leave for a personal issue? I have an email from then stating that I am being put on furlough leave not because of performance while i have been working from home but because of something I said about the company in phone call with a colleague
JA: Have you discussed this with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: I have tried via email to explain this to HR and the manager who is putting me on furlough that performance wise I am performing better than the majority of other staff but they refused to budge just replying we are putting you on furlough because of the personal issue they have with me. This will obviously result in a large loss of income for me and is being used as a punishment rather than what the scheme is intended for. I have not spoken to a lawyer.
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: Full time employment
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Just that I have emails from them advising that me going on furlough has nothing to do with being unable to work from home as I have been doing so for 8 weeks or nothing to do with not fulfilling my role while at home, purely as a punishment

Hello, I’m Ben, a UK lawyer and will be dealing with your case today. I may also need to ask some questions to determine the legal position.

How long have you worked there for? Please note I often have a very high workload so may not be able to reply immediately but rest assured I am dealing with your query and will reply as soon as I can, thanks

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I have worked there for 6 months

Many thanks for your patience. This is not what the furlough scheme was intended for but as long as the employer can show that they have in some way been affected by Covid-19, they will be able to justify placing you on furlough as no one will ask for the specific reasons you have been furloughed.

The issue for you is that if you refuse to eb furloughed then you are at risk of dismissal. The reason for this is that because you have been continuously employed at you place of work for less than 2 years and your employment rights will unfortunately be somewhat limited. Most importantly, you will not be protected against unfair dismissal. This means that your employer can dismiss you for more or less any reason, and without following a fair procedure, as long as the decision is not based on a reason which makes a dismissal automatically unfair. These include:

· Discrimination due to a protected characteristic (i.e. because of gender, race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, etc.)

· Taking, or trying to take, leave for family reasons including pregnancy, maternity/paternity leave, parental leave, adoption leave or leave for dependants

However, if the dismissal had nothing to do with any of the above exceptions, you would not be able to challenge it. In that case your only protection would be if you were dismissed in breach of contract. That would usually happen if you were not paid any contractual notice period due to you (unless you were dismissed for gross misconduct, where no notice would be due). If you did not have a written contract in place you would be entitled to the minimum statutory notice period of 1 week. The employer would either have to allow you to work that notice period and pay you as normal, or they instead have to pay you in lieu of notice, where you are paid for the equivalent of the notice pay but your employment is terminated immediately.

So you should see furlough as the lesser of two evils, with the other being potential dismissal, which you should try and avoid if you can.

Does this answer your query?

Ben Jones and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thanks for the info Ben.

All the best