Thank you very much for clarifying. First of all, I am sorry to hear about the issues you have experienced in your situation.
The first and most important thing to appreciate is that furlough is not an employee’s right and there is no ‘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 furlough needs to be applied. Therefore, even if an employee meets all the criteria to be eligible for furlough, the employer can still decide not to do so and they cannot challenge that decision (unless it was made on discriminatory grounds such as because of gender, age, race, religion, etc).
If the employer refuses to furlough an employee, they are still obliged to honour their contractual obligations towards them. That creates a couple of possibilities, depending on the contract:
- If there are guaranteed contractual hours and no lay off clause, the employer would be expected to honour these and pay the employee as normal, even if there is no work for them to do
- If there are no 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 any hours or work to the employee, meaning they are not obliged to pay them anything.
In summary, furlough is just an option to help employers with their wage expenses and allow them to retain staff in this difficult period, rather than having to let them go. However, it is not guaranteed that the employer will rely on the scheme and furlough an employee. If they choose not to do so, then they simply have to continue meeting their contractual obligations, which are dependent on what the contract says, as explained above.