I have been an employee at the company for over 5-year and I had requested time off work (4-months) to do sabbatical with some travelling. It was granted by my line manager. The request was made in person and then finalised in email.
However, fast-forward to now and due to the coronavirus pandemic, I have had to return home early from my travels, at great financial cost. As such, I am keen to start working again as soon as possible and can do so from home with ease. FYI, before leaving I was working from home once a week anyway!
I having had a call with my line manager, he says it won't be possible to return before the original return date, almost 2-months away. I am certain that in any normal situation (e.g. sans corona) they would be pleased to have me back early. After all, there was a reluctance to let me go in the first place. When I pressed him on why, I was told my pay wasn't in the budget for April and due to corona they were already down in their P&L.
However, the UK government is willing to reimburse companies pay 80% of people's wages if the coronavirus has stopped them from working, so this seems a weak reason.
Either way, this leaves me in a very strange situation: I am employee but I am not being payed.
Therefore my questions are as such:
Can my company legally stop me from returning to work, if it is not from something such as illness, etc? Alternatively, there is a mechanism in place that can allow me to return to work earlier?
If I am not allowed to return to work, what does this mean for my employment status? If I was unemployed I could claim certain benefits, however, I would consider myself employed so I feel rather in limbo right now!
Any advice on this would be REALLY appreciated.
- I requested 4-months leave
- I have asked to start again 2-months early
- I am being denied that
- Do I have a right to start again early?/Are they obligated to allow me to return early?
It seems that I am in a rather strange, but probably not entirely unique position, so I will detail some findings for those that might find them useful.
My employment status remains "Employed", as suggested in the answers. However, I wrongly assumed this excludes me from claiming Universal Credits. As I am not current earning I can still apply (in fact you can apply if you are earning, that just take this into accounts and give you less). Hopefully this is useful to someone else in my position.