The UK government has rejected a plea to allow furloughed charity staff to continue volunteering for the organisations they work for
Furloughed charity workers will not be able to volunteer for their own organisations, the UK government has confirmed.
Baroness Barran, the minister for civil society, said there is no prospect of an exception being made for charities to the rules of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
She was responding to queries from other peers in an online House of Lords session this week
Furloughed workers are allowed to volunteer but not for their own organisations. Last week, a group of charity leaders called on the government to grant voluntary sector staff an exemption to the rule because many charities face having to furlough staff at a time when demand for their services is soaring.
Conservative peer Lord Wei and the Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tyler were among those to ask the minister if the rules preventing furloughed employees from volunteering for their charities could be eased.
However Barran responded that no exceptions can be made, as changing the rules could see staff effectively working full-time on a reduced percentage of their wages.
She said: “The purpose of the scheme is to support people who would otherwise have been made redundant.
“In order to prevent fraudulent claims we’ve been clear that individuals can’t work or volunteer for their own organisations.
“But this also protects individuals: if we allowed workers to volunteer for their employers, the employers could effectively ask them to work full time while only paying them 80% of their wages.”
Barran said many charities are already taking advantage of the scheme, and savings made by charities will amount to more than £125 million. The minister did add that the government hopes to be able to set aside time to discuss the issue in more detail.