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Business advice: ‘Can I work for someone else when I’m on furlough?’

Plus, what to do if you became self-employed on Feb 1, 2020, and have not been eligible to make a return as yet.

Q: I’ve been furloughed by my company, but I’m going to be out of pocket. Can I get work with another company while furloughed?

A: Businesses use furlough as an alternative to laying off staff, writes Jessica Beard. It is a way of keeping employees on the payroll while not paying wages for a certain amount of leave during which the employee does no work. So generally speaking, no, you cannot work elsewhere during that period of time because your contract still holds.

Most contracts will require the employer’s consent to work for other companies and this should apply to furlough leave. That said, nothing stops you from checking with your employers. They may be more understanding if an employee is just topping up income that is lost due to being placed on furlough, if it is done outside your normal working hours.

The need for consent from your employer ensures to a certain extent that employees aren’t earning significantly more on furlough, with near double wages, than during a normal period of employment. If everybody was able to do this, then the Government grant would not be needed.

You can join the 750,000 volunteers helping the NHS during the pandemic. The Government confirmed that those on furlough will be permitted to volunteer without risking their pay.

Q: I became self-employed on Feb 1 2020 and have not been eligible to make a return as yet. Where does this leave me as I have paid substantial tax over the past 20 years with the same employer?

A: The simple answer is no, and it is simply really harsh, Harry Brennan writes. Professional bodies have raised the question of whether there is any way such individuals could get some help through the self-employed scheme – but so far the answer is no.

However, it’s worth remembering that many businesses in their first year would have made little or no income – a lot make losses in their first year – and even if you did qualify for the scheme, 80pc of nothing is still nothing so it’s likely you would end up in the same position.

Q: I’m self-employed and in the last three years only earned on average £14,000 per annum. Will the 80pc support be 80pc of the £14k or simply on the profit (i.e over the tax threshold)?

A: The amount of support will be 80pc of your net profit, Harry Brennan says. If £14,000 is your profit (earnings for tax purposes), you will get 80pc of £14,000. You have to deduct any expenses claimed in your tax return, but you do not have to deduct the personal allowance.

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