TWO weeks ago, the government announced its biggest ever employee support package to support workers who faced losing their jobs due to the coronavirus.

Instead of laying staff off, the employee retention scheme allows businesses to place their workers on ‘furlough leave’ where a government grant of 80 per cent of employees’ wages, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, will be received saving millions of jobs and giving businesses the breathing room they need during this period.

It is designed to help employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus to retain their employees and protect the UK economy.

The scheme has not yet been implemented by the government, and officials are working hard to get the scheme in place and money into the hands of those who need it.

Previously, employees could not partake in other employment that was not through their current employer, but the government over the weekend has made changes to the furlough scheme.

If the employee’s contract permits, they may undertake other employment (not through their current employer or any associated company) while their current employer has placed them on furlough, and this will not affect the grant that employers can claim under the scheme.

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The employee will need to be able to return to work for the employer that has placed them on furlough if they decide to recall staff, and they must be able to undertake any training whilst on furlough.

If furloughed staff take on new employment, then they should make sure they complete the starter checklist form (found here with their new employer correctly. If workers are furloughed from another employment, they should complete Statement C. Any activities undertaken while on furlough must be in line with the latest Public Health guidance during the COVID-19 outbreak.

All business, regardless of size, sector, Member or Non-member, should contact the Chamber of Commerce for advice and support on this and all related matters.

I urge all businesses to visit our Coronavirus Information Hub at