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COVID-19: increasing number of employees report fraudulent use of furlough scheme

Over a third of all Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related calls received by whistleblowing charity, Protect, have been made by employees reporting an employer’s misuse of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The charity reported that informants disclosed a range of fraudulent activities including employers forcing staff to work despite being furloughed, asking staff to continue working as volunteers and claiming for staff who were still working without their knowledge.

Protect’s data mirrors that collected by HMRC and WhistleblowersUK, however it warns that despite HMRC’s announcement that 800 people reported their employers for fraudulent use of the furlough scheme, the temporary closure of HMRC’s fraud reporting hotline may dissuade potential whistleblowers from reporting if they feel unable to use the online reporting service.