Cabinet ministers are being warned that a rise in positive Omicron cases will cause more staff shortages. 

Across the country, there are reports of schools facing closure due to teachers and pupils being infected.

It’s also being reported that waste collections, post and deliveries will be affected by a rise in virus cases. Royal Mail said it had extremely high absentee numbers of staff off due to sickness.

 

Hospitals will not shut down

However, Downing Street told the Guardian newspaper there had not been “any discussion or any warning about hospitals or clinical settings having to close as a result of this variant”.

Yesterday, HRreview reported the ONS figures which shows job rates are growing to higher than pre-pandemic levels. 

Overall unemployment has reduced, as more young people and part time workers get into work.

Joanne Frew is head of employment law at legal firm, DWF. She said there is an expectation the festivities this year will be impacted like last year: “With the Prime Minister declaring an ‘Omicron emergency’ and a raft of further restrictions being introduced we can expect the labour market figures to be impacted.  In particular, the hospitality industry is likely to be hit hard with Christmas parties being cancelled following concerns over the new variant.”

Staff shortages are manageable

Union leaders have called for furlough to return, especially as the hospitality industry is expected to be particularly affected  by low footfalls and no reimbursement. 

The CBI has said current shortages in staff are manageable, which could be due to fewer customers. There are concerns that a rise in cases will  affect warehouse staff and supermarkets, which could cause issues at Christmas, especially with planned staff strikes over pay.

However, Ms Frew said, the booster campaign being in full swing might help curb job losses and boost retention: “With an unprecedented drive on booster vaccinations we watch with hopeful anticipation that this will be sufficient to prevent a January lockdown and further job losses in the New Year.”