Trade Unions are calling for a replacement to the furlough scheme to protect workers and jobs

Research has shown that more than half a million jobs could be at risk when the existing furlough support scheme is withdrawn next month

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) is calling on the government to create a short-time working scheme to replace furlough, which will help protect jobs against future economic crises and disruption.

A number of organisations, including the New Economics Foundation, have warned about the risks of withdrawing the furlough scheme without a replacement while thousands of jobs are still reliant on it.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • The TUC says that a short-time working scheme like furlough should be introduced to replace the scheme when it ends in September
  • A short-time working scheme would allow companies experiencing economic difficulties to keep staff on their books, while those employees would receive subsidised support for working less or no hours
  • The TUC says this would help the economy to better weather future economic shocks and crises which are likely to be increasingly common due to climate change, technological advances and potential future pandemics
  • It would do this by preventing mass waves of job losses and the knock-on effects they have on the economy, which some experts are concerned will follow the withdrawal of the existing furlough scheme in September
  • Many other European countries already have some form of short-time working scheme in place prior to the pandemic, and evidence suggests it helped some sectors during the financial crash of 2008

What’s been said?

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The jobs market is still fragile, with more than a million people still on furlough.

"An abrupt and premature end to the furlough scheme will needlessly cost jobs and harm our economic recovery.

“Instead of pulling the rug out from under the feet of businesses and workers, the chancellor must extend the furlough scheme for as long as is needed to protect jobs and livelihoods.”

“Everyone deserves dignity and security at work. The pandemic shows how an unexpected economic shock can wreak havoc on jobs and livelihoods with little warning.

“In a changing and unpredictable world – as we battle climate change and new technologies emerge – a permanent short-time working scheme would help make our labour market more resilient and protect jobs and livelihoods.

“Too often in the past, periods of economic and industrial change have been badly mismanaged – increasing inequalities and leaving working people and whole communities abandoned.

“Setting up a ‘daughter of furlough’ to provide certainty to workers and firms through future industrial change would be a fitting pandemic legacy.

“Furlough has been a lifeline for millions of working people during the pandemic. Now is the time for the government to build on the success of furlough with a short-time working scheme – not throw away its good work.”