Calls grow for Government to amend and extend JRS

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Calls grow for Government to amend and extend Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Related tags: Job Retention Scheme, Government, Coronavirus

Pressure is mounting on the Government to both extend its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS), and amend elements of it to allow for flexibility.

According to a survey commissioned by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)​, employers want to see the JRS made more flexible to allow furloughed staff to work reduced hours, and for the scheme to be extended until at least the end of September.

Without these changes, the CIPD warns the current JRS could prove to be a ‘waiting room for unemployment’, and fail to protect significant numbers of the jobs it set out to save.

Under the current JRS, employees on furlough cannot undertake work for, or on behalf the employer that has furloughed them.

Last week a survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that eight in 10 workers in the UK hospitality sector had been furloughed under the scheme.

The figures show that there are more hospitality staff on furlough than in any other industry sector. 

London Union’s Jonathan Downey, who has been a leading voice for the industry throughout the Coronavirus crisis, has suggested the Government could amend the JRS specifically for hospitality and leisure businesses to help support the sector as it attempts to rebuild in the months ahead.

“It’s clear that more and more hospitality employees will be going back to work soon; especially those working in takeaways, grab and go, fast casual, and QSR,” he says. 

“But for many others it will be many months before there is any possibility of a profitable reopening.

“The issue we need to contend with is the cost of the JRS, and how long can the taxpayer sustain it.”

Downey’s idea would be for the Government to extend the JRS for hospitality and leisure businesses until the end of the year, but covering a reduced percentage of an employee’s wage. 

In July and August it could cover 60%; in September and October, 40%; and in November and December, 20%.

“That’s three months spread over six,” he continues. 

“With a lot of the grab and go and QSR staff going back to work, the number on furlough will drop significantly, so it may become affordable.”

Related topics: Business

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