The Chancellor has launched a new Coronavirus Retention Scheme to help protect thousands of jobs as offices, shops and businesses close due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The initiative, designed to support people who are at risk of losing employment, will see the Government pay up to 80% of their wages for up to three months.

This scheme started on March 1, 2020 and is open to all UK employers until June this year - though the Chancellor has said it could be extended to help keep the economy - and employment levels - stable.

In short, if your work is forced to close temporarily due to coronavirus, employers can ask the Treasury for an 80% grant to help cover the salaries of those who have been furloughed. This can be up to £2,500 a month, equivalent to the average UK salary of £30,000.

The employer can then top up the remaining 20% - though many have chosen not to.

This scheme is available to all employees that joined a PAYE scheme on or before February 28, 2020 - it's open to a variety of industries from charities, to airlines, shops and restaurants.

"Under the scheme, employers place their employees on 'furlough'. This isn't a term we use in UK employment law, and it seems to originate in the USA. It essentially means putting employees on a temporary leave of absence where they do no work, but they are retained on company books to be brought back in when needed," explains Kate Palmer, associate director of Advisory at Peninsula.

"Employers who furlough staff will be able to obtain a grant from the Government to cover 80% of furloughed employees' wages, to a maximum of £2,500 per employee per month."

All businesses can access the scheme, whether the virus has severely impacted the company or not - it's also available to those on zero-hour or temporary contracts and those who have recently lost a new job.

The Government says workers who were made redundant prior to 28 February can be re-employed and placed on furlough instead.

The grant will still cover their wages for this period - meaning you won't be left without an income.

When will furlough payments be made?

Although furlough leave can be backdated to March 1, the portal your employer will use to register your furloughed status will not be up and running until the end of April.

Consequently, you will not be paid until then.

In some cases, employers will choose to pay their staff first - and then later claim the money back from the Government.

However, this is at their discretion and subject to whether they can afford it.

If you're unable to cover your bills, the Government says you should apply for universal credit, which has been given a £1,000 boost due to coronavirus.

We've answered more of your furlough questions - including redundancy rights, here. To find more, see our furlough rights, page.