Despite an ongoing repatriation scheme amid the coronavirus outbreak, many Britons remain stranded abroad. Since they can not get home, regardless of whether they are key workers or not, these Britons are unable to work and could face financial devastation.
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Appearing on Thursday night’s Martin Lewis Money Show on ITV Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis revealed that these holidaymakers are still entitled to furlough pay, even if their employer says otherwise.
A holidaymaker facing such a problem was a man called Ian from Newcastle, who telephoned in for some advice.
He explained: “We have been stranded in Spain since the middle of March and my girlfriend has asked her employer whether she can be furloughed, but she was told that she can’t be furloughed until she returns to the UK.”
Mr Lewis said that he could not explain the reason why the employer would suggest they could not furlough as he does not believe there is a rule that says that.
“It’s the first time that I have been asked the question, but I’ve read a lot of the furloughing rules in detail and I’ve never seen any rule that says you have to be located in the UK so frankly I think it’s nonsense,” he said.
“The furloughing scheme is there to protect people who, due to coronavirus, can’t work and are at risk of redundancy.
“Clearly you’re locked in Spain because of coronavirus, because of the knock-on effect from it.
“Clearly the fact your girlfriend can’t work puts her at risk of redundancy, the fact she’s not turning up to work could make her redundant so she is a clear cut case for furloughing and the fact you are abroad is irrelevant.”
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With Spain currently in a stringent lockdown restricting movement for the majority of those in the country, it is understandable why getting home may be difficult for some.
What’s more, where commercial routes still run, travellers are expected to pay for their repatriation flights home, or alternatively wait out the pandemic in the country they are stranded in.
Many Britons have complained flights home are costly due to limited capacity and high demand.
Therefore the furlough scheme should apply to these Britons, regardless of their location.
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Mr Lewis jokingly said: “Do get back and tell them that and if you don’t want to tell them that why not make them watch this back on the ITV Hub?”
He also added a sentiment directly to the employer, saying: “Please reread the rules again, you haven’t quite got it right.”
The financial expert has also previously explained what the furlough scheme is for those who might be confused.
It is something that employees can ask for, but it’s up to employers to grant it.
Martin explained: “Furlough is this position where if you can’t work, you have a job but your job is on hold, let’s imagine the hospitality industry is easy.
“If you are PAYE for a contracted employer, the company can say we’ll put you on furlough and the state will pay 80 percent of your salary up to a maximum of £2,500.
“The company can top that up to 100 percent and we hope they have and they will, but they don’t have to.
“So if your company says you’ll cost too much tell them ‘just give me the 80 percent’.”
Martin explained: “The 80 percent is not coming out of the employer’s pocket.”
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