Employers want CJRS to allow furloughed staff to work reduced hours

Employers would like the Government to make the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) more flexible, making it possible for furloughed workers to work reduced hours and for the scheme to be extended to the end of September.

This is according to CIPD research shows that 76 per cent of employers who have already furloughed staff or plan to furlough staff (78 per cent) said that making the scheme more flexible to enable furloughed staff to work reduced hours would be useful.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD said:

The Government has worked hard to get the job retention scheme up and running so quickly. However, urgent decisions must now be taken to make it more flexible and to extend it so employers can continue to protect jobs.

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 Government has shown its prepared to adapt and improve its rescue packages for businesses and workers as this crisis develops. It needs to do so again here. Equally, businesses must play their part. We need to see employers weigh up the ethical, legal and financial considerations of using the scheme, to act openly and responsibly to ensure that a more flexible system is not abused, and that public money goes to the businesses that need it the most.

A Treasury spokesperson said:

We’ve taken unprecedented action to get through this economic emergency and our support package is one of the most comprehensive and generous in the world.

Around half a million employers have already applied to our Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to pay the wages of over 4 million furloughed jobs – jobs that might otherwise have been lost.

We will take into account the wider context of the lockdown, the public health response and the longer-term economic recovery when taking any decision on how and when to close the scheme.

This research is based on a YouGov survey of 1,178 senior HR decision-makers commissioned by the CIPD.