A new analysis by think tank the Resolution Foundation has predicted that over 11million workers could be furloughed under the Government’s new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).
Under the scheme, employers will be able to apply for a grant from the HMRC to cover the wages of those not able to work due to office shutdowns but haven’t actually been let go from their roles.
This will cover 80% of the wages, which, in some cases, could amount to £2,500 per month.
News of the scheme came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson told cafes, pubs, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, cinemas and other public leisure facilities to close last month.
The Government’s plan to cover up to 80% of furloughed staff wages could cost up to £40billion within a three-month window, according to data from the think tank.
The Mirror reported that more than one in three UK employers now plan to send at least three-quarters of staff members home as the economic uncertainty worsens.
These new statistics are based on British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) data which has shown that, more businesses than first thought, are now considering furloughing staff.
Resolution Foundation’s Chief Executive, Torsten Bell, said that the final cost of this scheme is dependent upon the length of time workers need to be furloughed for and how many employers take up this scheme.
"But with recent surveys implying that at least a third of the private sector workforce could be paid through the scheme, it is likely to cost as much as £30billion to £40billion over three months," Bell added.
Last week, Sky News reported that airline company British Airways (BA) will furlough workers on 80% pay.
This, according to the union, will ensure that no employee is made redundant and there are no temporary unpaid layoffs.
Reach, the publisher of the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Daily Star newspapers, is set to furlough circa 1,000 employees, with managers and senior members of the editorial team, expected to have their pay cut by a fifth.
Emma Swan, Head of Commercial Employment Law at Forbes Solicitors, told HR Grapevine that transparency and clear communication with employees about their rights and their future tenure is crucial.
“Employees have the right to reject any changes to their employment contracts, including joining the CJRS. However, the alternative options such as immediate redundancy or the possibility of job losses in the near future are likely to prove much less appealing to staff.
“If employees fully understand how COVID-19 is impacting business and why a company is making changes to minimise the long-term financial effects, they are more likely to agree to the actions being taken,” Swan added.
The Coronavirus Retention Scheme is one option for employers though, sadly, some staff members have already been let go from their roles due to the lack of financial certainty.
Late last month, experts warned that the coronavirus lockdown could destroy more than one million British jobs, despite Government measures to increase job security.
In the UK, celebrity chef, Gordan Ramsay, recently let 500 staff go and Cineworld started to lay employees off last month.
On a more global scale, Shake Shack, Primark, 20th Century Fox and Marriott International are some of the other organisations that have laid staff off, according to a Forbes article.
Top priorities for HR
A recent LinkedIn post from a person in the HR community highlighted some of the most discussed HR topics over the last few weeks.
This included coronavirus and social distancing measures, health and safety, leadership, working from home and layoffs.