CLEARER guidelines on furlough are needed amid growing confusion in the business community, according to HR experts.

Nicky Jolley, the founder and managing director or HR2day, which provides specialist HR support for SMEs in the North-East, has written to the business secretary, Alok Sharma MP, to urge the government to release comprehensive guidance to put people's minds at ease.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, HR professionals have been inundated with questions about what the impact of furlough will be on businesses, employees, and how to ensure it is enacted in line with employment law.

Key questions remain around maternity pay and whether furlough will cover 80 percent of average earnings or just of basic salary, she said.

She said: "These are difficult waters for everyone to navigate and business leaders really need some clear guidance about the rules around furlough – what employees can and can’t do, and how to avoid inadvertently getting things wrong.

"The last thing anyone wants is for us to survive the coronavirus crisis then face tribunal action."

She added: “We’ve had a number of concerned businesses get in touch asking for help with how to approach furloughing staff, whether there’s a set length of time staff need to be out of the business to be eligible for grants, whether any staff are out of bounds for offering furlough too, or if staff can take on second jobs to earn extra money while furloughed.

"Some clear guidance from the government, such as explaining if people living with extremely vulnerable request furlough to reduce their risk of exposure would go a long way to helping both parties understand expectation during the furlough period."