Furlough extended to October and part-time working allowed

House of Commons/PA Wire/PA Images

The furlough scheme has been extended to the end of October, but staff will be able to return to work part-time from August.

The changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme were announced in the House of Commons by chancellor Rishi Sunak this afternoon, after concerns were raised about the impact removing the support too early would have on jobs.

Sunak said at least 7.5 million people in the UK had been furloughed, with around one million businesses supported.

He said: “We believe in the dignity of work and we are doing everything we can to protect people currently unable to work.

“And as we reopen the economy we will need to support people back to work, and we will do so in a measured way.

“I can announce today that the job retention scheme will be extended for four months until the end of October. By that point we will have provided eight months of support to British people and businesses.

“Until the end of July there will be no changes whatsoever. Then from August to October, the scheme will continue for all sectors and regions of the UK, but with greater flexibility to support the transition back to work; employers currently using the scheme will be able to bring furloughed employees back part time.”

He said full details about the changes will be published by the end of May. The level of support will remain at 80% of furloughed workers’ salaries, but employers will be asked to share “the cost of paying people’s salaries” with the government.

Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the CBI’s director-general, said: “As economic activity slowly speeds up, it’s essential that support schemes adapt in parallel. Extending the furlough to avoid a June cliff-edge continues the significant efforts made already and will protect millions of jobs.

“Introducing much needed flexibility is extremely welcome. It will prepare the ground for firms that are reawakening, while helping those who remain in hibernation. That’s essential as the UK economy revives step-by-step, while supporting livelihoods.”

Dame Carolyn stressed that firms want more detail on how they will contribute to the scheme in the future. “The government must continue to keep a watchful eye on those industries and employees that remain at risk. All schemes will need to be kept under review to help minimise impacts on people’s livelihoods and keep businesses thriving,” she added.

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, welcomed the furlough extension, adding: “Small employers have told us that part-time furloughing will help them recover from this crisis and it is welcome that new flexibility is announced today”.

The government added that it will explore ways through which furloughed workers who wish to do additional training or learn new skills are supported during this period.

British Chambers of Commerce director general Adam Marshall said: “The changes planned will help businesses bring their people back to work through the introduction of a part-time furlough scheme. We will engage with the Treasury and HMRC on the detail to ensure that this gives companies the flexibility they need to reopen safely.

“Over the coming months, the government should continue to listen to business and evolve the scheme in line with what’s happening on the ground. Further support may yet be needed for companies who are unable to operate for an extended period, or those who face reduced capacity or demand due to ongoing restrictions.”

On Sunday, the Prime Minister said the government would like people who are unable to work from home to start returning to their workplaces from Wednesday. Detailed guidance on how eight workplaces, from restaurants offering takeaway to offices and call centres, was published yesterday.

Beth Hale, partner and general counsel at CM Murray, said: “The ongoing uncertainty and fear of the ‘Furlough cliff edge’ was leading some employers to consider redundancies, particularly given the lengthy consultation periods required for collective redundancies.

“It is also extremely welcome that the Chancellor has indicated that some employees on furlough will be able to work part time – this will allow employers to build up gradually to a full return. However, there is still significant uncertainty about how the scheme may change and the level of contribution that may be required from employers – the devil for employers will, as always, be in the detail.”

Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think tank, said the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme should be phased out gradually.

“Moving too quickly could spark a huge second surge in job losses at a time when unemployment already looks set to be at the highest level for a quarter of a century,” he said.

Employee relations opportunities on Personnel Today

Browse more Employee Relations jobs

15 Responses to Furlough extended to October and part-time working allowed

  1. Avatar
    Rob 13 May 2020 at 6:54 am #

    I want to re-open my hardware store I normally have 3 people working at once but with the restrictions can only have 2 members of staff in at once, everyone one is on the furlough scheme but if I reopen and take everyone off furlough all the staff will have to have there hours cut if the government paid my staff what they would lose out on with having three hours cut I could reopen and cannot wait til August to do this

    • Avatar
      Laura 14 May 2020 at 2:42 pm #

      You have a couple of options:

      If the reduction in hours results in a reduction in pay of more than 20% (meaning they aren’t earning 80% of their normal pay) you’d be better leaving 1 employee on furlough leave and returning 2 employees to the business. You could circulate the furloughed member of staff every 3 weeks (minimum time of furlough) until the new part time rules kick in from August.

      If the reduction in hours means your staff would still be earning more than 80% of their normal salary, they are all financially better coming back to work, albeit on a part time basis.

      • Avatar
        Hugo 14 May 2020 at 10:54 pm #

        Close your store already!

  2. Avatar
    Mark 14 May 2020 at 7:05 pm #

    I work in home removals, work litrally stopped completely, we cant open up and start work. We need to take calls for the near future. Estate agents/ Solicitors have returned now and we’re getting call, only enough work for 1 -2 days a week. My staff would rather be off on furlough then receive 2days of pay a week…but we need to build the business. Can we not offset sdays at work against days we claim furlough?

  3. Avatar
    Mrs Mandy Jones 15 May 2020 at 2:42 pm #

    I am a yacht broker and work part time just 2 days a week I am worried about returning to work as my boss requires on June 1st, can I continue to be furloughed for another month as I am not happy that we can self isolate and show clients over yachts.

  4. Avatar
    Jane 16 May 2020 at 9:34 am #

    Some employees at my workplace are unable to return to work due to not being able to find childcare for their own children. However the nursery is reopening on 1st June with everyone working an 8-5 shift. They have been told that if they cannot come into work then they will not be getting paid anything and have to take unpaid parental leave. Are my employers allowed to do this? Or could they keep those members of staff that are unable to return on furlough? TIA.

  5. Avatar
    Sheila Massey 20 May 2020 at 6:14 pm #

    I have been told that furlough staff cannot return to work before July is this correct

  6. Avatar
    Monica 29 May 2020 at 1:17 pm #

    My boss has asked me to come back to work on 1st July albeit part-time can he do that or the scheme of part-time is only from August?


  7. Avatar
    Kenn Williams 31 May 2020 at 8:18 pm #

    I’ve been asked to go back to work 2days instead of 4. Will I still get Furloughed. 15and a half hour’s instead of 32 hours?

  8. Avatar
    Julie O'Hare 5 Jun 2020 at 5:50 pm #

    I, and my colleagues at M&S who stayed at work believing it was only till the end of May are now really struggling physically and mentally as the shops open up fully to the public. We are so stretched due to furrloughed staff not being there, it’s starting to feel really unfair now the goalposts have been moved.

  9. Avatar
    Julie O'Hare 5 Jun 2020 at 5:54 pm #

    I, and my colleagues at M&S who stayed at work believing it was only till the end of May are now really struggling physically and mentally as the shops open up fully to the public. We are so stretched due to furrloughed staff not being there, it’s starting to feel really unfair now the goalposts have been moved.
    It’s even more unfair for them to be allowed back part time. There should be a complete switch of teams as it’s double tiered and let us who stayed on, have some time off to recharge.

  10. Avatar
    Ian Bradshaw 6 Jun 2020 at 12:41 am #

    I have been working at home since restrictions were out in place, my boss today is suggesting reducing my hours working from home with hours i am not working being covered through furlough payment. This seems a bit backward as my understanding is that furlough employees will gradually return to work under the new rules rather than withdraw from work. Is the proposed action by my employer permissible?

  11. Avatar
    M 5 Jul 2020 at 2:03 pm #

    Can People on Furlough from one company work part time somewhere else?

Leave a Reply