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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 67807
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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I am on a zero hour contract with my employer and have been

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I am on a zero hour contract with my employer and have been receiving furlough payments. The business has reopened however they have said I'm not eligible to go on the flexible furlough scheme as this is only for employees with contracted hours. Is this correct?
JA: Have you discussed this with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: Yes I have
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: I am an employee. I was a Team Leader on contracted hours up to 1st March and then moved to a tactical contract (zero hours) after having a pacemaker fitted. I am not part of a union.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No

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 this is not always an instant service and I may not be able to reply immediately. However, rest assured that I am dealing with your question and will get back to you today. Thanks

Customer: replied 2 day ago.
I started with the company in March 2012

Thank you. It is not necessary to have contracted hours only to be furloughed after 1 July. However, that makes no difference legally because the first and most important thing to bear in mind is that furlough is not a given and there is never a ‘right to be furloughed’ It is simply an option open to employers to use as they see fit and the Government has entrusted them fully to decide as and when the scheme needs to be applied. Therefore, even if you meet all the criteria and tick every box to be eligible for furlough, the employer can still decide not to do so and you cannot challenge that decision (unless it was made on discriminatory grounds such as because of your gender, age, race, religion, etc).

If the employer refuses to furlough you then they are still obliged to honour their contractual obligations towards you. There are a couple of possible situations then:

{C}· If you have guaranteed hours and no lay off clause in your contract, the employer would be expected to honour these and pay you as normal, even if there is no work for you

{C}· If you do not have guaranteed hours of work, such as working on a zero hours contract, in between assignments, etc then the employer can simply rely on that arrangement and not give you any hours or work and therefore not pay you.

In summary, furlough is just an option to help employers with their wage expenses, to allow them to retain staff for this difficult period, rather than having to let them go as they cannot pay therm. However, it is not a given that the employer will rely on the scheme and ask for such help and if they choose not to, then they simply have to continue meeting their contractual obligations, which are dependent on what your contract says, as explained above.

Does this answer your query?

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Customer: replied 2 day ago.
perfectly. Much clearer than the explanation my employer gave me earlier. Many thanks

All the best