Commenting on the changes announced today (Friday) to the job retention scheme for furloughed workers, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“We’re glad the chancellor has listened to unions and allowed employers to start using short-time furlough from July. This will help employers gradually and safely bring people back to work, protect jobs and support the economy to recover.
“As employers begin to contribute to the costs of furlough, we remain pleased that all workers will continue to receive at least 80% of their wages for every hour worked until the scheme closes in October. However, the government needs to act urgently to make sure workers with health conditions or childcare responsibilities aren’t first in line when it comes to redundancies.
“The UK cannot afford the misery of mass unemployment. The government must start planning now to build on the job retention scheme with a national recovery plan that prioritises protecting and creating jobs. That means a jobs guarantee scheme so that everyone can get a decent job on fair wages. And working with unions and business to deliver support for strategic industries that have the potential for many good jobs once the outbreak is controlled.
“We can work our way out of recession – together.”
Commenting on the extension of the self-employed income support scheme, Frances added:
“We are pleased that the chancellor has announced an extension to SEISS. Millions of self-employed workers – from the creative industries to construction – were facing a collapse in their earnings as the scheme ended.”
Measures the TUC is calling for to safely unwind furlough and to build a strong recovery:
- A new Jobs Guarantee Scheme to support those who do lose work – in particular young workers who are most at risk of long-term unemployment
- An increase in the basic rate of Universal Credit to £280 a week to protect the incomes of those who lose work
- An extended furlough scheme beyond October for:
- companies that can demonstrate a significant fall in turnover (mirroring schemes across Europe), and
- people who cannot return to work because their personal circumstances – health or care responsibilities mean they cannot work safely and productively outside the home.
- A national recovery council, including sectoral recovery panels that bring together employers and unions to design the shape of support packages that move us towards a new economy with more jobs, fairer jobs, and greener industry
- A commitment to a rapid-redundancy support offer, with skills training and intensive support for those at risk of losing work
- Significant investment in the economic interventions which are essential to maintain work, including childcare