Lauren Blakeley (left) and Lily Kurlander have both been furloughed

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing businesses to close until the foreseeable future, some employees have shared their experiences of being put on furlough and what it means for them.

Lauren Blakeley, a full-time buyer’s admin assistant for Kurt Geiger, has been put on furlough after the company had to close its head office in Farringdon, London due to COVID-19.

The 20-year-old, who has been working in her current role for six months, was informed by her employer about the furlough scheme through an email, which outlined all the key information such as explaining the terms of furloughing and how long it will last.

“I did feel like i was going to be made redundant at one point”

lauren blakeley, buyer’s admin assistant

Lauren also shared that when the office was still open, employees were receiving “one or two emails a week” from the human resources department with information regarding coronavirus, but since working from home, employees have been receiving less contact from their employer.

“When we started working from home, the contact faded out and we didn’t really hear much from the office, but I think at the beginning of the pandemic they were really good. They did contact us a lot and let us know about the office closures.”

Lauren Blakeley talks about how she was told that she was being furloughed

Before receiving the email about being furloughed, Lauren feared that Kurt Geiger was going to make her redundant, as she was yet to receive anything from human resources.

“I did feel like I was going to be made redundant at one point. My whole team had found out that they were furloughed and I was yet to hear anything.”

However, Lauren later found out that the company had forgotten to email her regarding her furlough and that Kurt Geiger was not making any of its staff redundant.

Lily Kurlander works at Urban Outfitters in Cabot Circus, Bristol

Another employee who has found herself furloughed by her company is 19-year-old Lily Kurlander, a part-time sales associate at Urban Outfitters in Bristol.

The second year University of Bristol student, who has been working at the high-street fashion store since September 2019, revealed that Urban Outfitters had furloughed all of its sales associates and that all the information was communicated clearly to employees.

“We got three attachments via email about the guidelines of the furlough and how to sign the paperwork agreeing to be furloughed. Our managers called each of us individually and asked us if we had any questions.”

Lily Kurlander explains what her company told her about being furloughed

Lily also added that her employer has been in regular contact with its employees throughout the pandemic. In addition to emails and phone calls, employees were added to a staff Facebook group, where managers have been checking in with staff and updating them with information.

As a university student, Lily revealed that receiving only 80% of her salary is “not ideal”, as she is on only a five-hour contract and earns minimum wage. However, as Lily is now living at home, she no longer has to pay for expenses that come with living as a student.

“It’s not ideal but I’m lucky that I’m not having to pay any expenses like food or travel which I would be having to do if I was still living at university.”

Barry Garcia talks about furloughing and protecting his staff

Other than the retail sector, other industries have also had to furlough their staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Cryptex Security, an alarm and CCTV company based in North London, has decided to furlough staff as they would have needed to interact face-to-face with customers on a daily basis.

Barry Garcia, owner of Cryptex Security, told how he has kept only one member of staff on full-time employment to carry out emergency call-outs only.

Barry also revealed what measures he will put in place for his staff to protect them when they return to work.

“My staff will be presented with a form of PPE. That’s gloves and masks, so that they will be able to go into people’s homes and companies.”