Furlough generally means a temporary leave of absence from work. The employee remains employed with the business and on the payroll but does not work. This term was used during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to refer to employees who had been furloughed as they could not work because of lockdown restrictions. 

The UK government provided financial support to employers and businesses through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, also known as the Furlough Scheme. This allowed businesses that had been severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic to furlough their staff. When furloughed, an employee received 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. 

Under the more flexible second and third phases of the Furlough Scheme, employees could either stop working completely or work reduced hours while furloughed.