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My girlfriend has just been told that her salary will be cut by 20% 'for the foreseeable future' due to the current coronavirus crisis.

We live in the UK, and the government has said that they will pay 80% of employee wages for those affected by the crisis. Does this mean that her employer is not paying her a penny out of their own pocket?

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    At this point, no one knows as past the announcements the details of how it's supposed to work were not released in full yet. – Tymoteusz Paul Mar 24 at 18:53
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    The important question is what difference an answer could possibly make for you? Yes, maybe her employer is planing to do exactly that, but unless she has other options, does it really matter? – d_hippo Mar 24 at 18:58
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    Did she tell her boss that her productivity will also be cut by 20%? – sf02 Mar 24 at 19:32
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    I suppose there's a 20% reduction in hours worked? – gnasher729 Mar 24 at 20:40
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    Do you know that the 20% and 80% are linked? I know Occam's razor suggests that they are, but has it been stated by the employer / inferred by your GF from what was said in a meeting, or whatever - that that's the reason? – seventyeightist Mar 25 at 19:50
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The 80% of salary (up to £2,500 per month) is only for employees who are furloughed and are not doing any work. If girlfriend is doing any work then she must be paid as normal by her employer for that work -- whether she gets paid a full salary, or pro-rata, or per hour, depends on her employment contract.

80% of gross wages in the private sector, up to £2,500 a month, for those not working and who would otherwise have been laid off will be covered by these grants from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51628524

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Pay cuts are often used by companies as an alternative to layoffs during worsened financial conditions. If the employer is experiencing lower revenues due to the pandemic, then 20% pay cuts could be justified as the alternative is 100% pay cuts for some staff.

Now, it could be that the employer is trying to pull a fast one, in which case the girlfriend could make an anonymous complaint to the relevant authority, but it might be worth giving the benefit of the doubt to the employer for now.

Some clarifying questions for now might be:

  1. Is the employer experiencing a slowdown in business?
  2. Are the pay cuts universal or is this just for your girlfriend?
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  • @GregoryCurrie If the employer is claiming money under the furlough program by making a false claim, it is tax fraud. At a time when government is running up huge debts on the furlough program, HMRC are likely to want to make an example of anyone they catch cheating. – richardb May 28 at 16:54
  • @richardb You are right. (This answer probably needs to be changed too) – Gregory Currie May 29 at 3:21
  • @GregoryCurrie I believe I covered that with Now, it could be that the employer is trying to pull a fast one, in which case the girlfriend could make an anonymous complaint to the relevant authority – user1666620 May 29 at 9:21
  • How is an employee meant to know if a fast one is getting pulled or not? Maybe the assumption should be that they are pulling a fast one, and let the authories determine what's going on? – Gregory Currie May 29 at 9:59
  • @GregoryCurrie Exactly, there's not a lot of information to go on. If the suspicion exists, they could report it. Which is why I suggested clarifying questions to ask the employer before making a decision. – user1666620 May 29 at 10:07

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