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Furlough scheme extended to October

Published:  12 May, 2020

The government has announced it is extending the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) for an additional four months, while also adding in some provision to bring furloughed employees back to work on a part time basis.

Workers will continue to receive 80% of their salary of their monthly wages up to £2,500.

The amendments to the scheme, which were announced this afternoon, builds on the original terms of the JRS.

There will however be greater scrutiny as companies will be expected to share the financial cost of paying furloughed workers with the government from August.

The biggest change perhaps is that employers will be able to bring furloughed employees back to work part-time.

This was part of government’s plans to do “everything we can…to support people back to work”, chancellor Rishi Sunak said.

The extension comes just after the news that UK bars, cafes and restaurants could be allowed to re-open their doors from July 4.

Many operators now face a difficult decision as to whether they can, or should, re-open, given the circumstances and difficulties with social distancing.

As the roadmap for the end of lockdown continues to take shape, a number of major chains have announced they are looking to re-open in some way.

These include fast-food chain Subway, which is to reopen a quarter of its 2,400 UK & Ireland estate with new social distancing measures in place, and a similar approach is being considered by Caffe Nero.

Around 7.5 million workers are now covered by the JRS, up from 6.3 million last week, with the government currently providing support for over a million UK companies.

It is now costing more than £14bn a month.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said he was pleased with the extension of the scheme and the added flexibility. 

The WSTA is now "continuing to push for the government to broaden the definition of hospitality to ensure the suppliers to our pubs and restaurants don’t slip through the net and end up facing closure.”