I live in the UK, and work on weekends for probably the UK's biggest fashion retailer. I recently got an email from them asking me to consent to the terms of a new contract. In it, I noticed this section, which does not apply to me but I found interesting anyway:

  1. If you commenced employment with [our company] after (and were not, therefore, on our payroll on) 28 February 2020, please read this section:

As you started employment with [our company] after 28 February 2020, we cannot include you in the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme. However, I am pleased to confirm that we will furlough you under the same terms.

You will move into a period of furlough backdated to 24 March 2020 and until 31 May 2020 unless notice is given in writing by [our company] as set out below.

I'm confused as to the distinction between the Job Retention Scheme and furloughing. Does this mean that the government will not be paying for these workers, so the company will be paying for them instead, or does it mean something else that I'm missing here?

  • The people that the government can automate the payments for most easily are employees on PAYE for whom their employer filed payroll taxes in February. For the self-employed and new starters, they would have to work a lot harder to verify the claims.
    – richardb
    Apr 8, 2020 at 22:45

1 Answer 1


Your interpretation seems to be correct. A furloughed employee is defined by Acas to be one who is "temporarily sent home because there's no work". This could in principle be through unpaid leave.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is a government scheme to compensate employers for the wage bills of their staff during the furlough, so that the furloughed staff can continue to receive some income. An employee would have no direct dealings with the scheme and would continue to be paid via their employer.

Your company seems to be offering to match the terms offered to employees under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme of 80% of salary, presumably out of their own funds. A kind gesture, it seems!

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