Furlough was introduced in 2020 originally by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Furlough temporarily provides employers with an option to keep their workers on the payroll without them having to physically work. Under the flexible extension to the scheme, introduced in July 2020, employees have the choice to either stop working completely or under reduced hours. As furloughed staff are kept on the payroll, this is very different to losing your job as it’s expected workers can return to work when it’s safe to do so. The scheme and other financial measures provide workers and employers with some security through the financially tumultuous months of the pandemic.
When does furlough end in the UK?
The furlough was originally brought in at the start of the first lockdown in March 2020.
The programme was scheduled to finish at the end of June 2020, before being extended another five times.
First came an extension to October 2020, followed by a last-minute continuance to March 2021, and then April and finally, September 2021.
The current furlough scheme will run until the end of September 2021.
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However, there are some key differences with this round of furlough, with support due to drop off in the coming months.
The extended furlough will start the same was as its predecessors.
So that means for hours not worked by staff members, the Government will continue subsidising up to 80 percent of wages, up to a maximum of £2,500.
Government contributions will then be reduced as previously planned in October 2021.
Will furlough be extended again?
The extension to September is the latest continuation of the scheme, and has so far been dubbed as the last.
Whether or not the furlough scheme will be extended again largely depends on the COVID-19 situation in the UK.
The vaccine rollout is going well at the moment, and if this continues on a positive trajectory and enables the economy to reopen as planned, there likely won’t be any need for another furlough extension.
However, if the vaccine isn’t as effective as initially anticipated and another surge of Covid cases hits the country, the Government could decide to further safeguard jobs until it’s safe to end the support.