Businesses are being urged to let their furloughed staff take on second jobs to support the national relief effort during the coronavirus pandemic.
Staffordshire County Council has made the plea in a letter to companies as it battles to provide home-care to thousands of residents.
At least 700 people have now signed up for the council’s icare scheme.
But some potential recruits are being denied the chance to sign up because the contract with their current employer does not allow it.
The letter has been signed by council chief executive John Henderson and leader Philip Atkins.
It states: “This Government has set out an unprecedented comprehensive package of support for business through this difficult time.
“We have all become familiar with the term furlough, which is protecting large numbers of employees from being made redundant while we fight this dreadful virus.
“We recognise the extremely difficult challenges the private sector faces, but thousands of vulnerable people across the county rely on us for their care.
“We face an immediate challenge to ensure this care can continue as the Covid-19 situation worsens.
“Furlough is not, as supported by recent Government guidance, a reason to restrict people’s ability to work with us, either as a volunteer or through paid employment at this time.
“You will be aware that Government has clarified its guidance on the furlough position and it is clear that employees can start a new job when on furlough. The guidance does say it has to be allowed under their existing employment contract.
“We would encourage you to waive any provision at this time that may be included in your employees’ contracts of employment prohibiting them from taking a second job.
“This would be a great effort in support of our iCare campaign and would release some of the most skilled workers and employees that we have across Staffordshire to do their very best in support of the national crisis.”
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Furloughed staff who want to help out have been urged to contact their main employer. It will not affect the grant the company receives under the furlough scheme.
Employment law expert Karen Coleman, who is based in Norton Green, said: “Many companies would want their employees to help if they can and the regulations allow both volunteering and paid work for a different employer.
“It may be that some employees will have clauses in their contract preventing an employee working for another employer, or at least without the employer’s consent, and in either case I suggest people speak to their manager.
“It would be good practice practically to inform your company of your plans whether you have that clause in your contract or not.”