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Furlough Scheme ‘Needs Extending to Protect Jobs’

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The government’s furlough scheme needs to be extended for jobs across the UK economy to be properly protected into the second half of this year.

That is the message from most respondents to a recent survey of employers carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Around 60 per cent of survey respondents said extending the scope of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to September would be the single most significant labour market policy the government could introduce to help them as businesses hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

Many respondents to the recent survey also indicated that they would like to see the scheme made more flexible so that some employees could work part time while still receiving partial extra payments via the government’s emergency furlough system.

The jobs retention scheme allows the government to pay the wages of employees who are furloughed up to £2,500 a month, with the current plan being for it to continue functioning until the end of June.

However, a significant number of company bosses are worried that ending the furlough scheme at the end of June will result in a wave of redundancies being set in motion soon after.

The CIPD has said that without the scheme being extended it could prove to have been effectively “a waiting room for unemployment” and a project that will “fail to protect significant numbers of jobs it set out to save”.

On the issue of part-time work, which furloughed employees are currently not allowed to engage in, the CIPD suggests the government should be looking seriously at the options and potentially changing its policy.

Allowing furloughed staff to work part time would “protect jobs, support businesses and reduce the burden on public finances,” according to the institute.

“Letting furloughed staff work some hours, where possible, will enable organisations to bring back workers from furlough gradually while rebuilding their business,” noted Peter Cheese, the CIPD’s chief executive.

“This will be vital as lockdown measures are eased over a number of weeks or months and will reduce the risk of large-scale redundancies in this next phase of the crisis.”

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