Ben Willmott, head of policy for the CIPD, said:

"Given the new restrictions, the Government must commit to extending the furlough scheme to at least the end of June and it must make this decision now. Employers simply cannot wait for the Chancellor’s Budget in March to get this assurance: they need certainty and a long-term view now.

"Announcing a longer-term extension to the furlough scheme would give employers in all sectors the confidence and support they need to continue to protect jobs until the vaccination programme starts to take effect and we hopefully start to see the economy recover.

“While it’s right that the most vulnerable groups are being prioritised, vaccinations for most working people stand to be many weeks and even months away. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme must be in place for longer to ensure that jobs are protected during this time.

“The Government should also take action to ensure that anyone asked to self-isolate through NHS Test and Trace does not lose out financially, for example by addressing any weaknesses with the isolation payments system provided through local councils."

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