Can I Work on Furlough? Jobs to Consider During COVID-19

Wednesday 29 April 2020, UCAS advice

by Ella Hendrix

Can I Work on Furlough? Jobs to Consider During COVID-19

Ella Hendrix

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everybody and almost everything in our lives. The government rules that have stipulated that we must socially distance ourselves and only go out to work if it is essential, are meaning that the majority of the country is spending a lot of time a home – and for many, are unable to work.

As a student, this could be a very disruptive time as in addition to having to continue studying from home, and many also have part-time jobs to earn some extra income. And many of these jobs are in the hospitality industry – one that is amongst the hardest hit in the UK.

Government schemes such as the Employee Retention Scheme is helping businesses to stay afloat and for workers to carry on paying their bills through being ‘furloughed’. The rules say that when you are furloughed, the government will pay 80% towards your wages – with employers choosing whether to add on the extra 20%. The rules also say, however, that if you’re a furloughed, you must not provide any service to your employer for that time.

The government’s furlough rules also stipulate, however, that you can also work another job as long as it doesn’t breach your obligations as set out by your contract from your employer.

For many people, this means that they can support the national effort – both in the work that they are doing and by paying taxes, help other businesses, and importantly, keep their mind and time occupied.

Some businesses are busier than ever, need to be functioning, and looking to hire staff for the duration of the COVID crisis, and here are just a few ideas of what you could do.

The care sector is one that is over-stretched at the best of times and is struggling to care for all of the elderly and vulnerable people who need it at the moment. In a recent post, professionals at Helping Hands state that when you’re working as a carer “not only are you able to fill your time with working instead of staying at home, but you will also become part of a vital workforce that is protecting our most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic.”

Care work could consist of visits to people or working as a live-in carer, and helping with tasks such as housework, running errands, personal care and even just providing good company.

Supermarket Pickers and Delivery
Keeping supermarkets open is an essential aspect of helping the country to deal with COVID-19, and we are seeing overwhelming demand on them – especially in terms of food deliveries as people are trying to avoid unnecessary trips out. Morrisons, for example, has announced that they are creating around 3,500 new temporary jobs in the UK to help to cope with this demand.

Other supermarkets are also recruiting people in similar roles.

Fruit Picking
The British fruit picking industry relies heavily on labour from international students and travellers. Due to the travel restrictions that coronavirus is placing on people around the world, farmers are foreseeing considerable shortages in the numbers of people who will be available to pick fruit.

Fruit picking is hard work, but an excellent opportunity to spend enjoyable time outside and help to do your bit to keep the country fed and healthy.

Supermarkets aren’t the only businesses that are needing to ramp up their delivery services. Other companies are also selling more online, and delivery companies are seeing a massive increase in demand. Online marketplaces like Amazon, again, are seeing booms in demand, meaning that they need delivery drivers and warehouse staff.

The government has relaxed the rules on driving and delivery work, and if you enjoy life on the road, this could be your way of helping to keep the country moving.

Rubbish Collector
It is at times like these when we realise which jobs are essential for the country to keep moving. And rubbish collectors are a great example of this. With high numbers of people either off sick or in self-isolation, the collection of rubbish is something that will need reinforcement.

Rubbish collection is a highly physical job, training would be provided, and you would be able to work in your local area.

In addition to these paid jobs, you could also consider doing some voluntary work to help the more vulnerable people in society get through the COVID crisis.

Although many businesses are temporarily closing down while this period of lockdown continues, there are also plenty that is open – and needing more employees than ever. If you have been furloughed from your job, that doesn’t mean that you can’t find something to do – remember, at this time of everyone pulling together – your country needs you!