As Scotland plans return to work...

Sunak to unveil changes to furlough scheme

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak: will expect firms to make a contribution

Companies will be prevented from putting additional employees into the Government’s furlough scheme as part of plans to get Britain back to work, according to reports.

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak does not want companies to furlough more workers as they resume trading.

He will offer to help businesses wean themselves off Government financial support and unveil details of how they will be expected to contribute to the scheme.

The last published figures showed eight millions jobs have been furloughed, roughly a quarter of the total in the UK.

At the moment, furloughed employees are receiving 80% of their normal pay up to £2,500 a month.

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But this could change from August, with Mr Sunak expected to say employers must contribute 20% of salary, with government contributions falling to 60%. Companies would also be expected to pay NI contributions.

The Chancellor will be keen to head off a wave of summer redundancies as the first phase of the furlough scheme ends.

In Scotland, new guidance has been published for retailers and manufacturers to consider how people can safely return to work, with updated guidance for construction to be published later in the week.

The documents, which are among the first for a number of specific sectors, have been developed in consultation with business, trades unions and regulators. This will provide advice on essential equipment and services needed to create the conditions for safer workplaces.

Companies are expected to undertake a “robust risk management approach” that has been developed and maintained through joint working with employees. This will offer assurances to workers when the time is right to return to work.

Working to the phased approach in the route map on easing lockdown published last week, it details the steps required for businesses, acknowledging that some will face more complications when reopening than others, while also considering the impact on employees.

Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “Many businesses have been adapting to new ways of working with a significant proportion of staff working from home.

“While many people will continue with this, there are areas where it is not possible. We are listening to how businesses have made changes and in discussion with them to see how these changes can be safely applied to allow reopening.

I want to be clear that the journey doesn’t end once the guidance is published

– Fiona Hyslop

“We’ve been working in partnership with industry, trades unions and regulators in around 14 sectors and will publish more sector-specific guidance over the next few weeks.

“However, I want to be clear that the journey doesn’t end once the guidance is published. This is just the starting point and these documents will continually evolve, where required, based on public health evidence and feedback from industry and trade unions.

“Guidance on its own, will not create safe working environments. We continue to work closely with the key enforcement agencies – the Health and Safety Executive, local authorities and Police Scotland – to ensure a joined up approach to the enforcement and monitoring of workplace public health measures.

“We are already supporting businesses through our unique package of support totalling £2.38 billion which reflects the specific needs of our economy. Our recovery will be an opportunity to renew our economy and build our resilience and future prosperity.”

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