Martin Lewis offers furlough advice – ‘Breaking the law!’
Martin Lewis’ furlough support has often proved invaluable for many people who are looking for assistance during the coronavirus crisis and the money saving expert has provided tips on the government scheme. Furlough is an arrangement announced by the government under their Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which allows employees to receive 80 percent of their pay up to £2,500 whilst on leave due to the outbreak. HMRC has helped many companies to process furlough arrangements, under the condition their employees do not work for the company whilst on leave.
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However, Martin highlighted some companies had been abusing the scheme, leaving their employees out of pocket.
One person wrote in to Martin’s question and answer session on Good Morning Britain to explain their employer had not paid their furlough wages.
The person asked how they could report the employer without losing their job.
Martin offered his advice, stating: “If an employer has put in that you will be furloughed, then they have put in your salary.
“By law, you will get that money. You must get all of that money. Firstly, you should speak to your employer, because they have probably made a mistake or it could be a confusion or something has gone wrong.
“If that isn’t the case, then you can report them to the HMRC Fraud Department anonymously.
“I know people will be scared doing that, and in some circumstances if you are the sole employee, it might be obvious who you are. But they are in breach of the law, if they are doing what you say they are.”
Martin also highlighted that employees placed on furlough also should not be forced to work.
This is also considered as breaking the law, and should be reported by anyone in that circumstance.
A whistleblowing scheme has been implemented by the HMRC Chief Executive, Jim Harra, to allow abuse of the scheme to be reported.
Where abuse is detected, a company could be severely punished with a strict liability offence.
HMRC is closely monitoring the scheme to ensure companies do not abuse the assistance offered to employees by the government.
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Of the scheme, Mr Harra said: “Employees must be completely furloughed by their employer, that means they should not engage in any work for that employer whilst they are on furlough.
“We are aware that some employees have already been reporting that some employers have asked them to work during the furlough period.
“We expect the vast majority of employers to do the right thing and in fact in many cases they have no choice because people are genuinely furloughed and cannot work.
“But we will be asking anyone who’s got information about the scheme being abused to let us know. There is an online hotline service for any employee who feels they are being asked to be complicit in something they don’t want to be complicit in to contact us and let us know.”
Mr Harra admitted the furlough scheme during coronavirus was open to exploitation from those with poor intentions.
Analysis undertaken by the Resolution Foundation found the furlough scheme could cost the government in the region of £30 to £40 billion.
The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, plans to wind down the furlough scheme in July.
Martin Lewis is the Founder and Chair of MoneySavingExpert.com. To join the 13 million people who get his free Money Tips weekly email, go to www.moneysavingexpert.com/lattesttip
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