Coronavirus: Universal Credit and other benefits

Employment and benefits support

Furlough

If you and your employer both agree, your employer might be able to keep you on the payroll even if they are unable to operate, or have less or no work for you to do, because of coronavirus. This is known as being ‘on furlough’.

If you’re on furlough you’ll still be paid by your employer, and will pay taxes from your income.

Your employer could pay 80% of your regular wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, up to a monthly cap of £2,500. They might choose to pay you more from their own accounts.

In some circumstances employers can bring furloughed employees back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern, while still being able to claim a grant for the hours not worked.

You cannot undertake work for your employer during time which you are recorded as being on furlough.

Your employer is responsible for claiming through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme on your behalf, and for paying you what you are entitled to. You cannot apply for the scheme yourself.

Other rules apply – read more about eligibility for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Claiming benefits whilst on furlough

If being on furlough reduces your income, you may be eligible for Universal Credit

If you are eligible for Universal Credit, the earnings you receive whilst you are on furlough will be treated like any other earnings, and may affect how much Universal Credit you receive. Find out more about how earnings affect your payments

Please be aware that if you are already receiving tax credits or any of the benefits that are replaced by Universal Credit, these will stop if you apply for Universal Credit, and cannot be started again.

If you apply for Universal Credit, this will have no effect on your employer.

If you were contracted to work less than 16 hours per week before you were placed on furlough, you may be eligible for New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). You won’t be entitled to New Style JSA if you were contracted to work for 16 hours per week or more, even if your earnings have reduced whilst you’re on furlough.

If you are eligible for New Style JSA, the amount you receive may be affected by your earnings whilst on furlough.

Use a benefits calculator to find out what benefits you might be entitled to.

Taking alternative work

If your contract allows, you may undertake other employment while your current employer has placed you on furlough. This will not affect the grant that your current employer can claim under the scheme.

You could consider working in critical sectors – take a look at the new jobhelp website to find out more about finding and applying for jobs in these vital industries. Many of these vacancies can be found on Find a job too.

If you have applied for a job and you have been invited to attend an interview you should firstly try to do this over the phone or online. If this is not possible, you should attend the interview, and follow the latest government guidance on meeting with others safely and social distancing. Any activities undertaken must be in line with the latest Public Health guidance during the coronavirus outbreak and national or local restrictions

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