05:30 GMT30 November 2020
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Wednesday that employees should whistleblow if their employers pressure them to work in violation of the furlough scheme launched by the government to support the economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    "In any scheme around the edges there will be people trying to abuse it. And that would be a criminal offense. Employees will do the right thing, I am sure, if that thing happens. You cannot claim government money whilst making staff work, that would be completely against the rules of the scheme and HMRC would have something to say about that," Shapps told Sky News.

    The transport secretary stated that people should whistleblow cases of pressure, noting that the furlough scheme in the United Kingdom is "black and white," that means that an employee is either furloughed or not, and companies cannot break the rules in such situation.

    "Well, absolutely. People cannot break the law about this," Shapps said, when asked whether employees should report such cases.

    A cyclist is seen near the Bank of England as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 14, 2020.
    © REUTERS / John Sibley
    A cyclist is seen near the Bank of England as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, London, Britain, April 14, 2020.

    The scheme, which was launched in early March for three months, allows firms to sent employees on vacations during the pandemic with the government paying cash grants of up to 80 percent of their wages but no more than 2,500 pounds ($3,125). Earlier in the day, the Sky News broadcaster reported that, according to HM Revenue and Customs department (HMRC), it received 795 reports from furloughed workers who are being pressured to continue working. Moreover, 20 percent of them have been reportedly received from people working in the care sector.

    The United Kingdom has so far confirmed 226,463 COVID-19 cases and 32,692 related deaths.

    Tags:
    pandemic, COVID-19, employment, United Kingdom
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