What Being On Furlough Means & How to Make Money While On It

Up until recent months most of us had never heard of this word before, but now it is popping up in almost every conversation.

Here’s what it means: 

The word ‘furlough’ generally means a temporary leave of absence from work. 

This can be due to economic conditions affecting a company, or matters affecting the whole country. 

The expression had previously not carried any meaning in UK employment law but was temporarily introduced in response to the unprecedented situation presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As part of its response to the pandemic the government has also introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 

This does not mean that the fundamentals of the employment law have changed, simply that this scheme adds to them.

This allows all UK employers with employees on a PAYE scheme to designate some or all employees as ‘furloughed workers’. 

Employers can access Government support to continue paying part of these furloughed employees’ salaries and potentially protect the employees from redundancy. 

The scheme has now been extended again to the end of September 2021.

The extension until September 2021 means employees will continue to receive 80% of their salary for hours not worked until the scheme ends. If you are put on furlough by your employer, 

they can top this up by 20% to account for your full wage, but many choose not to. 

The current 80% government contribution will continue until June 2021, and then this contribution will be tapered with employers contributing to that percentage – 10% in July, increasing to 20% in August and September.

Furlough leave temporarily provides employers with an option to keep employees on the payroll without them working at all or being laid off. Under the flexible extensions to the furlough scheme (from July 2020 onwards) employees may either cease working completely or work reduced hours.

The scheme and some other measures provide employers with other alternatives to implementing redundancies or layoffs without pay. 

How many people have been furloughed?

According to the most recent figures (up to 31 January):

  • 11.2 million jobs have been supported by the scheme since March 2020
  • About 4.7 million people are currently on furlough
  • The highest take-up rate has been in hospitality (food, drink and accommodation) industries – 1.2 million jobs furloughed as of 31 January
  • Four out of 10 employers are using the furlough scheme
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While much better than a layoff, a 20% salary cut is still a very tangible hit to most people’s income… 

So how can you make extra money while on furlough if you’ve experienced a loss of earnings?

Potential side-hustle ideas could make some extra money while on furlough – most of which are online.

For most people, you may need to explore multiple options to recoup the full 20%, if this is the pay cut that you are facing at this time.

Here are some ideas on how to make extra money while on furlough:


If you have any marketable skill, someone on a site like Fiverr will be looking for it. 

Writers, logo makers, graphic designers, editors, voiceovers, translators – you name it, someone is looking for it.

Fiverr is the perfect place to start looking to make some extra income from the skills that you may already utilise in your day job, or may have previously used at university or college.

Despite what the name suggests, not all jobs on the site are priced at five pounds. You can price your service as you want, and can offer different pricing tiers and add-ons which can all increase the amount that you earn on the site.

It does require a bit of research: how to set up, how to price yourself, and how to get and retain your first customers on the site.

But once you get going you may find that this could be a long-term gig. 


If you’re a regular crafter or collector, you can definitely make some money selling what you make or what you own and can part with.

Think of second-hand sales and one name springs to mind – eBay. EBay touts 15 categories, making it the eclectic vendor’s favorite site. Sellers have the choice of opening items to auction, or setting the price with the “Buy It Now” option. And it’s popular for a reason – eBay reached 183 million active buyers worldwide at the end of 2019 and has around 25 million monthly visitors in the UK alone.

Private sellers can list up to 1,000 items per month for free on eBay, but are charged a ‘final value fee’ of 10% of the final sale.

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As the world’s biggest social network, Facebook’s Marketplace offers a brilliant platform to sell your unwanted items, especially if you’re looking to sell locally rather than dealing with postage and packing as you can either arrange to drop an item off or to have someone come and pick it up from you.

Marketplace has been running since 2016 and in that time it has become a popular choice to sell items locally, racking up over 800 million global users each month. It’s free to post a listing, and you can also cross-promote it in local Facebook groups for buying and selling to increase exposure.

Etsy lists collections of unique items you’d like to sell, such as art, or vintage or handmade goods, so it’s ideal if you want to start your own craft business with a cheap selling platform or have lots of good-quality vintage stuff to sell, such as clothes, trinkets, knitting patterns or crockery.

Established in 2005, the site has millions of worldwide members and is growing in popularity with over 2.5 million sellers.

UK sellers pay around 17p for each listing, with four months to shift products. You also pay a 5% transaction fee charge on the final selling price, plus 20p for payment processing. There are other fees for advertising, so check the site for a breakdown.


Are you a teacher, personal trainer, or fitness instructor by day? Are you available to teach another language? The power of video at this time is huge.

With kids being off school for the foreseeable future, tutoring can be a very lucrative side hustle if you are a teacher who is not currently working normal hours. Many parents will probably be relieved for someone else to teach their kids for half an hour!

People are also exploring hobbies while spending more time at home and are often looking for lessons in areas such as music, language, cooking, and more.

And if you’re a personal trainer or fitness instructor? Although there are a ton of free resources for people to use, your regular clients might be looking for a more tailored workout session from home. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone or laptop and off you go!

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So this idea isn’t going to recoup your lost earnings instantly – in fact, it could take a long while. But if you’ve had a business idea and have been waiting for the right time to start working on it – THIS is the time to do so. Maybe now could be the time to grow a blog?

A crazy amount of successful start-ups were founded in the 2008 recession, including Uber, Slack and Airbnb.

If you’ve been putting an entrepreneurial venture on hold due to lack of time, this is your sign to take the bull by the horns and get sucked in. Because, if you’re on furlough, when are you ever going to receive 80% of your wage whilst not working again? It’s a brilliant opportunity, so use it if you can.


Whilst side hustles are generally going to be ok with your employer, getting another job (i.e. at the supermarket) will be at the discretion of your employer.

Check your employment contract, to ensure that you are not breaching your contractual obligations. You could even check with your manager to make sure that if you apply for a temporary job to see you through the next few months, you are allowed to do so without being penalised.


These are, without a doubt, some uncertain times that we are living in. You may be worried about the future security of your job, and what might happen after the end of the furlough period.

All you can do at this time is prepare for what’s next as best you can. If you can make some extra money on the side – that’s great. But don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t happen for you – there are currently a higher number of people than ever who will be trying to make extra money to make up for loss of income. At least you now have an idea of how to make extra money while on furlough – if you want to.

Another strategy that could help might be to set a budget in order to stretch your money over a longer period of time. Check out our other posts to learn how you can save money. 

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