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The gift of furlough

Updated: May 23, 2020

Most of you who follow me on social media would have seen me celebrating my birthday over the weekend. Although I was in quarantine, I had a really great day.

My work however had a different plan for the day. The day before my birthday, I received an email confirming that my role was identified as one that would be furloughed and as of the date of my birthday, I would no longer be working. I was so overwhelmed with emotion. Though I'd been working from home and had a routine, I took comfort in knowing that I was kept busy with work commitments and now suddenly it's definite that I won't be working.

Those that may not know, I work as a Project Manager in the transport industry. With the strict lockdown restrictions and all but essential travel banned - people are not travelling. No passengers = no revenue. No revenue = less project for right now because there is no money to fund them. I was approaching week 7/8 of working from home. Work had started slowing down, so I knew that being put on furlough was inevitable and only a matter of time.

To be fair, I am very lucky to have been put on the scheme where so many people are facing the reality of redundancy. Nevertheless, I had so many questions running through my head, such as:

  • I’ll be taking a pay cut, so general financial anxiety and worry

  • Will my job even be safe? Will the company be in a position to take people back?

  • Will there be need for my role after this is all done?

  • Furlough is until June, is that enough time for the economy to have recovered?

  • What if the government stop the scheme and my company is not ready to take me back, then what?

  • What’s my plan now? I was starting to feel out of control.

Having a gratitude journal is something that has helped me cope by focusing my mind to see the positive side to everything - no matter how small.

My diary entry the night before my birthday was “The gift of furlough – time.”

This pandemic has had a very negative impact on people's mental health and it's so easy to be overfilled with emotions, the what if's and general panic and anxiety that come with uncertainity. I wanted to write this post to encourage anyone going through, or in the same boat as I am, that you have been given a gift - time.

Time to self-reflect, become more self-aware and to get to know me (yourself) again. Time that you probably would have never made available had you not been put in this situation. If we think the furlough scheme is until end of June, that’s about 8 weeks from now. Calculated by work week hours that’s 296 hours. 296 hours of working on yourself.

There are things I’m sure that you’ve always wanted to do – this is the time to do it. I’m hopeful that we won’t get to live through another pandemic, so we better make the most out of this time. This is the perfect opportunity to start that business you have been putting off, learn a new skill, upskill and level up your career or work towards your personal goals. There will never be a better time where you get paid to work on pursuing what you want.

While being put on furlough is something I would have liked to avoid it’s actually a blessing in disguise. As the saying goes there is a silver lining behind every cloud – if you choose to look for it.

You cannot come out of this period as the same person you were pre- furlough. If you do, then it wasn’t time you lacked it was self-discipline.

Over the coming weeks, I will be sharing content and free resources on how to keep productive, start achieving your goals and maintain self-care during this period.

In the meantime, stay blessed, stay indoors. You still got this!

R x


FAQ about Furlough

What is Furlough?

“Furlough leave” is used to describe a temporary lay off from work where there is a downturn in business. Under the Job Retention scheme, employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employee’s salary for those employees that are placed on furlough leave.

What is the Government Job Retention Scheme?

The Government Job Retention Scheme introduced to support organisations with the retention of employees during the Covid 19 pandemic. The scheme is intended to help both the employer and employees alike and provide an alternative to making employees redundant, where there is a decrease in work.

Do you still get paid?

Yes – the government contributes 80% of your salary up to £2500. Your company may choose to pay the difference if your salary is greater than £3,125 per month.

Can I conduct voluntary work?

Yes, you can. You can undertake voluntary work elsewhere provided that it does not and is not for the benefit of the company you are currently employed by.


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