Today marks the final day of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), meaning the next phase of the Plan for Jobs is set to be carried out.

The Government is now set to move onto its newest phase of its Plan for Jobs, a scheme intent on protecting, supporting and creating jobs across the country.

This entails continuing the Kickstart Scheme which places young people at risk of long-term unemployment into jobs and continuing support for employers to take on apprentices through the Apprenticeship Levy transfers system.

The Lifetime Skills Guarantee is also encompassed in this plan which aims to provide workers of any age with key skills that can help to aid skills gaps in organisations.

This announcement comes as the furlough scheme which has been in place for the last 18 months, is now set to draw to a close.

Figures suggest the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has protected over 11.6 million jobs during the pandemic and has contributed to more employees being on payrolls now than prior to the pandemic.

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, confessed he was “proud” of the scheme as well as UK workers and businesses for weathering through the crisis.

However, now the focus shifts to the Plan for Jobs as Sunak states this will “help people into work and make sure they have the skills needed for the jobs of the future.”

Despite this optimism, there are still key questions surrounding the collective fate of around one million people who have not yet been taken off the furlough scheme.

Of these, around a third of people still relying on the scheme are older workers, especially women.

Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, stated:

Although the furlough scheme is ending, changes to SSP and annual leave still apply. Additionally, employers are still required to ensure a safe working environment to reassure staff that they aren’t being put at risk of COVID in the workplace. Shielding has officially ended but many people are still clinically vulnerable, so employers need to remember their duty of care to these employees.

People retuning from furlough may be able to apply for flexible working. It’s up to each employer to decide whether or not they will adopt a hybrid working pattern, implement permanent work from home arrangements or follow the Government’s advice to relax them and encourage employees back to the workplace.