Are furloughed staff taking work from hard-up freelancers?

Are furloughed staff taking work from hard-up freelancers?


Many furloughed workers, with time on their hands, are offering up their skills for free, but some freelancers are taking issue with the trend.

“I was sick of making banana bread!” jokes Stella Norris.

The 31-year-old normally works as a digital marketing manager for a London arts agency. She’s been furloughed and wants desperately to return to her old job – but in the meantime, she’s working from home, volunteering for a charity called Children of Rwanda.

Furloughed workers are those who are being asked to stay at home by employers during the coronavirus lockdown on 80% salary. This is funded by the government’s Job Retention Scheme, which opened on 20 April.

Stella was matched up by, one of a growing number of platforms connecting furloughed workers to organisations that need help.

“It was surprisingly easy to sort,” says Stella.

The charity made sure her background was right for the role and she had a video call with the chief executive. He wanted five hours per week from her – in practice she’s happy to offer more, helping them reach people online.

“I treat it like my normal work, giving them a weekly round-up of what I’ve been up to,” she says.

Many charities now need help with online skills to reach potential donors because they can’t do traditional fundraising.

As well as keeping her occupied, the work has brought other benefits. Learning about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on people far less fortunate than herself has given her welcome perspective on her own position, she says