Furlough: Where does the word furlough come from?

The furlough scheme was introduced in March and helps pay staff unable to work due to the coronavirus crisis. The Government scheme, which was introduced by Chanellor Rishi Sunak, pledged to cover 80 percent of salaries up to £2,500 per month, with all employers able to apply to HMRC to pay the wages of people who are furloughed.

Where does the word furlough come from?

The word furlough originated in the 17th century from Dutch verlof, modelled on German Verlaub, of West Germanic origin and relates to leave, or permission.

At first, it was used in the military and meant “leave of absence” or leave or license given by a commanding officer to an officer or a soldier to be absent from service for a certain time.

Today, the word refers to temporary layoff from work.


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How does the furlough scheme work?

The Government’s website reads: “If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker.

“This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off. To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed.

“This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80 percent of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

“You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.”

On Friday, May 29, changes to the Government’s furlough scheme were introduced by the Chancellor.

Around 200,000 people have taken part in an unprecedented official initiative to save jobs during the lockdown.

Mr Sunak said employers are expected to pay 20 percent of salaries by October.

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He said: “In September, taxpayers will pay 70 percent of the furlough grant, with employers contributing 10 percent.

“In October, taxpayers will pay 60 percent and employers will contribute 20 percent. Then… the scheme will close.”

The Chancellor said a new collective effort to reopen the country has begun.

He said: “Now, our thoughts, our energies, our resources must turn to looking forward to planning for the recovery and we will need the dynamism of our whole economy as we fight our way back to prosperity.

“Not everything will look the same as before. It won’t be the case that we can simply put the key in the lock, open the door and step into the world as it was in January.

“We will develop new measures to grow the economy, to back business, to boost skills and to help people thrive in the new post-Covid world.

“Today, a new national collective effort begins to reopen our country and kick-start our economy.”

However, the new changes have received backlash, with some saying it could become “incredibly difficult” for companies.

Northern Ireland’s economy minister Diane Dodds said: “This would be incredibly difficult for some employers, particularly those in hospitality and retail sectors which have been closed for three months.

“It is uncertain whether they will get back to full operations for a number of months yet to come.

“I have been urging the Chancellor to consider very wisely what he is going to do.”

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