There will be relief, albeit temporary, felt across the nation at Chancellor of the Exchequer Runak Sunni’s announcement that the furlough scheme is being extended by a further four months.  Better yet, the confirmation that the scheme will be amended to allow furloughed staff to work part-time and to let part-time staff be furloughed.  This will enable businesses to start working towards their new ‘normal’ whilst not bearing the burden of all the staff costs.

Here are the highlights and takeaways from Monday's announcement:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which began in March, has been extended until October 31st
  • Workers will continue to receive the same level of support, that is 80% of their current salary up to £2,500 per month.
  • The scheme will continue in its current functioning form until the end of July.
  • From August this scheme will be partially supported by businesses themselves – with employers contributing a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff –details of this proposal will be published by the government by the end of May.
  • With this, new flexibility will be introduced from August to get employees back to work this will include furloughed workers being able to return to work part-time.

Some facts about the scheme:

  • As of this week (beginning 11th May) 7.5 million people across the country are signed up.
  • Almost one million individual businesses are involved
  • With this extension until the end of October, the projected cost of the total support being provided is around £60 billion.

The Government also published a 50-page plan on how they propose to restart the economy which was released on Monday 11th May.  If you haven’t managed to read it yet….

The 5 key points are as follows:

  1. Work from home if you can.
  2. Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment, in consultation with workers or trade unions if applicable – this is expected of businesses with over 50 employees.
  3. Maintain the 2 meters social distancing wherever possible.
  4. Where people cannot be 2 metres apart, manage the transmission risk:
    1. This may include putting barriers into shared spaces
    2. Creating workplace shift patterns or fixed teams (minimising the number of people in contact with each other)
    3. Ensure colleagues are facing away from each other…
  5. Reinforcing cleaning process – it goes without saying, workplaces need to be cleaned more frequently. Special attention should be given to computer keyboards, phones, door handles and other high contact objects.  Hand sanitiser or hand washing facilities should be provided by the employer at entry and exit points. 
Written by Victoria Silver
Victoria will shortly qualify as a trainee solicitor.