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0 hours contract support

Home Messageboards Work and HR Forum 0 hours contract support

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  • #151218
    AvatarMarc Crosby

    This is a reader’s question:

    ‘I started working with a school in January 2020 and worked throughout January and February, delivering my tutoring services. I was also scheduled to work in March and all the courses and workshops were cancelled due to lack of attendees, which is not surprising given the current situation that people did not want to book a classroom based course. I therefore lost a total of £550 for cancelled work in March and although I appreciate that work is not ‘guaranteed’ under a 0 hours contract, it is entirely likely the courses would have gone ahead were it not for the Coronavirus situation.

    My understanding is that employees on zero hours contracts are due 80% of salary under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Employers can choose to put any staff who were on their payroll on 28 Feb on ‘furlough’ and the Govt will cover 80% of their salary which can be topped up to 100% at the employer’s discretion.

    The employer has said, however, that because we’re public sector employees and are receiving public funding, then I we won’t be entitled to government support. This is because the government said they do not expect the scheme will be available to many public sector organisations.

    Is this right? Or am I entitled to be furloughed?’


    This is a complex one! And it all comes down to the interpretation of the word ‘expect’.

    The Government says it doesn’t EXPECT public sector organisations to need to furlough – EXCEPT where those staff roles are not in existence due to the virus. Tutoring services, for example, that can’t be (or aren’t) done online – so you can’t do your job – means the school CAN apply to furlough you.

    The scheme has also been extended to anyone on payroll on 19th March 2020 – that may not affect your position, but it’s worth knowing in case it helps!

    They’ll use your average earnings from the last year (or February’s pay, whichever is higher) to work out the 80% figure.

    Schools have been in a particular grey area on the furlough front – but they can definitely furlough any staff who can’t be reallocated or complete their role at the moment, especially if they intend to hire you after the lockdown ends (i.e., retain your job, which is what the Job Retention Scheme is all about!).

    Good luck with this – I hope this info has helped!


    Yes, I agree with what Annie has said. It seems to me that morally you should be furloughed. If you are a member of the NUT or other trades union I suggest you speak to them about it. The more pressure that is put on Councils and the Government over this the more likely it is that something will be done about it.

    Also get in touch with ACAS. They are doing a lot of mediating with situations like this and they may also be able to help.

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