Can charities furlough their employees?
Hopefully, further guidance will provide additional clarification on this, but it is difficult to see how a charity whose operations have been significantly curtailed because of the Covid-19 restrictions, cannot furlough employees and access the scheme, in particular where they have several different income streams. For example if a charity’s retail or fundraising operations have been significantly curtailed due to the restrictions, then it would appear unfair for it not to able to rely on the furlough scheme to assist in the funding of the employment costs associated with this part of the charity.
However, it might be prudent, where there are services that are publicly funded and employees working within those services cannot undertake their normal work, to consider if they can do different roles to work on Covid-19 activities. If there is no such work available then the guidance does appear to allow the furloughing of employees and such organisations to access the scheme.
In our experience, the funding streams and work undertaken by the organisations that could fall into the third category identified above can be exceptionally diverse and we would strongly recommend that you take advice before making such decisions about furloughing employees.