Employment: Two million workers ‘out of work’ for at least six months of the COVID-19 pandemic

Two million workers were ‘out of work’, either through unemployment or via the furlough scheme, for at least six months during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest research.

The data comes from the Resolution Foundation’s ‘Long Covid in the labour market’ report, which found that 500,000 workers had been furloughed via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) for at least six months by January 2021.

The research also shows that 700,000 UK workers had been unemployed, while an additional 700,000 had moved between full furlough and unemployment in the past twelve months.

Nye Cominetti, Senior Economist at the Resolution Foundation, said that the findings in the report show that despite the improvement in the UK’s economic outlook, job insecurity remains high for many workers, particularly for those who have spent significant periods out of work or who are currently furloughed.

Experts have also been calling for a gradual phasing out of the CJRS, a process that the Government had previously intended to begin with the introduction of the Job Retention Scheme and the Job Retention Bonus.

Paul Johnson, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said: “A significant continuation of the furlough scheme, while necessary, needs to be limited and tightly targeted, striking a balance between continuing support for jobs and businesses harmed by lockdowns and weaning the economy off blanket support that will impede necessary economic adjustment.”

An announcement on the future plans for the CJRS is expected to be made by the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak at the Budget on 3 March, with employers being urged to prepare, particularly if they think they may need to make redundancies in the future.

How can we help?

At AGS HR, we can advise on all aspects of the challenges you may face in the coming months, such as returning to work, reviewing employment contracts and redundancy considerations, with easy to use documents and practical advice.

For help and advice, contact our expert team at AGS HR Solutions today to discuss your requirements.