A flexible and measured approach to ease furloughed staff back into work

Following the CIPD’s previous calls to the Government, including a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to make furlough more flexible and to allow short-term working, a recent survey of employers further highlighted this position. 

The CIPD survey found that employers want to see the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) not only made more flexible to allow furloughed staff to work reduced hours but also to be extended until at least the end of September. As without these changes, the current JRS could fail to protect the significant numbers of jobs it set out to save once support is taken away. 

In a press release issued at the end of last month, Chief Executive Officer, Peter Cheese said:

'Letting furloughed staff work some hours, where possible, will enable organisations to bring back workers from furlough gradually while rebuilding their business. 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.  

'The Government must also consider extending the scheme to at least the end of September. This will provide more certainty for employers and ensure that there is no ‘cliff edge’ exit from furlough straight to redundancy for hundreds of thousands of workers at the end of June.'

The employer survey received widespread national coverage, including CIPD’s Head of Policy, Ben Wilmott being interviewed on BBC’s 5 Live, Wake Up to Money.  

Recent announcements on plans from the Chancellor to wind down the JRS from July and to ease people back to work in a measured way, has resulted in the CIPD further strengthening its calls for an extended scheme and flexible approach. In a statement released to media yesterday the CIPD  said that 4 million redundancies have been avoided but the scheme needs to be reviewed to continue to save jobs. 

As well as publicly calling for the furlough scheme to be extended and made more flexible, the CIPD also met with HM Treasury to take them through proposals. 

Supporting employers during the pandemic 

Last week saw Peter Cheese, CEO and Ben Wilmott, Head of Public Policy meet with the Minister of Employment, Mims Davies to look at the labour market during the current crisis. The discussion focused on how the CIPD can support the Department for Work and Pensions tackle the impact of job losses throughout the crisis, as well as to help employers that have seen an increased demand in their sector to find the right people. Ms Davies acknowledged the important role the people profession and CIPD members have to play in this. 

Returning to the workplace 

The CIPD has continued to share practical advice and guidance on our coronavirus hub and across our social channels on returning to the workplace once lockdown measures begin to ease. Our most recent live Q&A on Twitter (#AskTheCIPD) looked at this issue and we heard from CIPD experts, as well as workplace specialists and employment lawyers. 

Following on from the publication of our returning to the workplace guide, Peter Cheese, CIPD CEO, appeared on SKY News to highlight that there is not a one size fits all approach and businesses will need to put people first.

Our webinar on Monday will look at what organisations should be focusing on and we will shortly be publishing five principles that organisations can use to help them as they plan a gradual return. These will focus on taking care of people and safeguarding health and well-being. Look out for more details on the website soon.

Media Centre

If you’re a journalist or member of the press looking for more information or to speak to one of our experts, please contact our press team. 

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About the CIPD

At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.