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Covid coronavirus: Employee told to cease work without pay due to lack of work

(ref: L3Ai/Aii)

Guidance on sending the letter

The letter below has been written for you to send to your employer if you have been told you to stop working without pay because of lack of work caused by the coronavirus, but you are willing and able to work and are not currently sick or required to self isolate.

It asks the employer to apply for funding under the government’s ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’ which will reimburse 80% of  the monthly pay of workers who are temporarily laid off (sometimes called ‘furloughed’), up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

You should amend the letter where indicated in [square brackets] and anywhere else necessary so as to reflect  your personal circumstances. Keep any amendments factual and leave out any emotional comment: your main goal is to appear reasonable and easy to deal with and to keep employed for the next few months. 

There is more information in our article about your employment rights during the coronavirus pandemic 

[Your address as letter heading]

[Employer name and address, etc]


Dear [Employer name]


I am writing regarding your recent instruction for me to cease work without pay because of lack of work resulting from the coronavirus. 

[Insert the following if you have been employed for less than 2 yearsI don’t think this requirement is fair or consistent with the terms of my contract of employment. I am ready, willing and able to work and so I am entitled to be paid as a matter of law.]

[OR Insert the following if you have been employed for more than 2 years: To insist on dismissing me in these circumstances, and refuse to furlough me, amounts to unfair dismissal, and I would have an actionable claim in the employment tribunal. This dismissal would be outside of the range of reasonable responses open to an employer facing this situation.]

I propose that you put me on government backed furlough leave, also known as the ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’. The government has offered this temporary support to employers as a way to keep people employed during this period. Under this scheme the government  will reimburse you 80% of my salary up to a cap of £2,500 per employee per month. You  can apply through the HMRC website.  I am happy to receive only 80% of my salary, so it will not cost you anything.

We are going through unprecedented times, but I think the government scheme could provide a solution. I am keen to reach an agreement with you that works for both of us rather than just insist on my rights but we do need to agree it, and it does need to be fair.

Yours sincerely


[Employee’s full name]


(ref: L3Ai/Aii)

020 7717 5259

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