Furlough means a temporary leave of absence from work. The UK government has introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to support employers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Scheme allows employers to place some staff who are unable to carry out their work as a result of the coronavirus pandemic on furlough, or leave. The University has confirmed that staff will continue to receive their full pay during furlough.  The University can then apply for support from the government to fund part of the salaries of staff who have been furloughed. The scheme will reimburse the employer for a percentage (currently 80%) of the furloughed employee's pay up to a maximum amount (currently £2,500 per month).

Yes, we have discussed and agreed in principle these arrangements with the campus Trade Unions.

The University’s normal operations have been impacted significantly as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. There are a number of roles, all of which are extremely valuable during normal operations, which are difficult to carry out while the current government restrictions are in place.

By accessing the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, the University will be able to access financial support for the payment of staff salaries at a time when there is an impact on our ability to work and our overall finances. To do this, the University needs to temporarily furlough the affected staff.

University departments in conjunction with Human Resources carefully consider which roles are appropriate to be furloughed.  The decision to furlough will depend upon whether or not roles are unable to be carried out remotely or there is a temporary reduced requirement for work to be carried out as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. There may be some roles where the work is still required as normal but there is a need for fewer staff at this time. The decision to furlough roles is not in any way related to the value placed on the role by the University.

Under the requirements of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, there will be occasions when it is not appropriate to furlough due to the nature of funding for that role.

You will receive a letter by email or by post confirming that your role has been identified as one which is appropriate for furlough under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This letter will ask you to agree to be placed on furlough, hence enabling the University to claim back the relevant percentage of your salary. If you have any questions or concerns about being placed on furlough then the communication will contain contact details of a member of the HR team who will be able to discuss this with you. 

Staff on furlough leave will continue to receive their normal pay from the University, including pension contributions and access to any other benefits (e.g. childcare vouchers).  You will continue to pay Income Tax and National Insurance on any payments received. You will receive your standard salary from the University on the same date as everyone else and through your normal bank account.  The only difference will be that the University will be able to claim back a proportion of your salary from the Government.

Furloughed staff cannot carry out any work for the University in the role they have been furloughed from and to do so would be in breach of the scheme rules.

The minimum period of furlough is seven days. Note that even if you are only on furlough for a short period, you cannot carry out any work for the University during that period.

Yes, the Government has introduced the concept of ‘flexible furlough’; this means you can be furloughed for a short time before returning to work for a period and then being furloughed again. This process can be repeated multiple times though the minimum period for any furlough claim remains seven days.  Flexible furlough can be a useful way of ensuring several team members get a chance to contribute to the work of their team but where there is not enough work for all team members to be back at the same time. 

Staff who hold second/other roles with other organisations may continue to work for them as normal (subject to normal rules around second/multiple roles, including seeking permission and adhering to limits on total weekly hours).

Staff considering taking up secondary employment whilst on furlough should be mindful of the short-term nature of furlough leave and the fact that the University may require them to return from furlough at relatively short notice. Normal permissions should be sought and discussed with line managers ahead of any other new employment being undertaken.

Staff on furlough leave can undertake training providing that this does not provide any form of service to the University or generate revenue for it.

Staff on furlough leave can carry out volunteering activity providing this activity does not provide any form of service to the University or generate revenue for it and that it is in line with Public Health Scotland advice. Please look at our FAQs on volunteering for more information.

Yes, maintaining social contacts with work colleagues is absolutely fine while you are furloughed.

Your manager will maintain contact with you as appropriate during any periods of furlough.

You will continue to have access to emails and IT systems whilst on furlough as we understand that you may wish to remain in contact with colleagues from a social and wellbeing perspective. However, you must ensure that you do not undertake any work during your furlough, which includes refraining from reviewing or responding to emails relating to your role.

Staff on furlough leave continue to accrue annual leave as normal.

Staff should take annual leave whilst on furlough as they would normally.  In order to maintain equity and fairness with other colleagues not on furlough leave, you should continue to take annual leave when it would otherwise have been taken.

No - Staff who are on furlough leave when a public holiday falls will have this day’s leave at the same time as all other staff who remain at work (i.e. they will be deemed to have taken it during the furlough period and will not be able to move it to a point later in the year). Part-time staff will continue to receive a pro-rata entitlement of annual leave to be deducted in line with normal leave rules.

The duration of any specific period of furlough leave will vary depending on individual circumstances.  The minimum furlough period is seven days and many furlough durations will be influenced by Government advice around when and how the current restrictions may be lifted or eased. Those on furlough leave will receive further communication and notice ahead of any return to work.

No, you don’t need to be available for work while you are furloughed. However, you should bear in mind that we may need to ask you to return to work at relatively short notice as guidance on dealing with coronavirus changes regularly.


There will be no impact on career progression or future prospects for staff identified as furloughed.

Furloughed status is a result of work that is not required during the unique circumstances we currently face and is in no way an indicator of the continuing value of that work during normal University operations. Colleagues identified for furlough leave should be reassured that this would not be a consideration in or pre-judge any future promotion or other HR-related process.

Being furloughed has no impact on your employment status at the University. Your continuous service is unaffected and at all times you will remain employed by the University. This also means that you should continue to adhere to any obligations placed on you as an employee, e.g., in relation to confidentiality.

It is important to remember that while you will remain an employee of the University during furlough, you should not undertake any work for or on behalf of the University during any period of furlough that applies to you.

Agreeing to furlough will result in a temporary variation to your terms and conditions of employment. This variation means that you are agreeing not to work for the University during the furlough period as outlined above. All your other terms and conditions remain unchanged with the exception of those changed by this variation.

No. You will be expected to return to work on your contracted hours and your existing working pattern and existing terms and conditions when furlough ends. The decision to furlough roles has been taken as a short-term measure to support the University in the current challenging time.

The normal rules for these types of leave still apply. If you are already on leave, your manager may discuss with you the potential to be placed on furlough leave on your return. If you are furloughed but due to commence such leave, this will still happen in the normal way (e.g. at the point of childbirth or other pre-agreed date).

If you fall ill whilst on furlough leave there is no requirement to formally report sickness in the normal way (you cannot be on sick leave and furlough leave at the same time). You should however still notify your line manager that you are unwell for the purposes of maintaining communication and to discuss any possible support you may require, where appropriate. This will not however be treated as an absence and will not be recorded as such.

The furlough scheme rules for calculating payments for variable hours workers are complex and this will need to be considered on an individual basis.  The University is committed to ensuring that any payments made during furlough will be calculated in a fair and transparent manner, taking into account any previous assurances of hours.