The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is set to end on 31 October 2020.
Throughout recent months, employers with furloughed employees have seen the gradual tapering of government contributions:
As October approaches, employers should already be considering the prospects of bringing employees back to normal working hours where there is sufficient workload.
Alternatively, employers should be, if not already, offering replacement contracts on different terms or, implementing a fair redundancy procedure.
With already a substantial increase in the number of redundancies and unemployment across many sectors in the UK, those lobbying to extend the CJRS (such as, business groups, trade unions, think tanks and opposition parties) are wanting to avoid a "cliff-edge effect" on 31 October 2020.
There are concerns that the new restrictions implemented on 22 September 2020 and an imminent threat of a second lockdown could lead to catastrophic implications for not only those at risk of losing their jobs but, individuals' mental health and dependant families across the winter months.
The government have made clear that indefinite furlough is not an option. However, as of 23 September 2020, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has raised speculation as to whether a new scheme to subsidise workers such as a German-style wage subsidy might be considered. Such a proposal might include employers paying workers' wages for their time at work only (at least 50%) and the government subsidising pay for when a worker has no hours.
In addition, other schemes are said to be "on the table" that would be considerably cheaper than the current CJRS. However, as of today's date, there has been no further announcements or guidance published; meaning the CJRS is set to end on 31 October 2020.
As the CJRS end date draws closer, employers must consider their options and plan appropriately to right-size their workforce and manage the legal and other risks that arise in the context of reorganisation.
Be sure to follow our social media channels as we continue to keep you updated on the latest Furlough developments. If in doubt, please take advice. You can contact the Employment team at Myerson on 0161 941 4000 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.