The Unite Union has called on the government to say it will expand its furlough scheme or be exposed to “redundancy river openings” opening in the UK.
Many workers can expect a “miserable Christmas”
The government’s furloughing program ends on October 31.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Finance said the government “did not hesitate to act in creative and effective ways to support jobs and we will continue to do so”.
Wednesday marks 45 days before the end of the furloughing scheme, which is the same time that employers must give for notice of dismissal.
The Unite association said on Wednesday that without “a clear and urgent sign” from the government that it is responding to calls to expand the scheme, it fears that “employers facing short-term struggles will issue redundancy notices.”
The government has been urged by MPs, business groups, trade unions and political opponents to continue the furloughing program, where workers on leave receive 80% of their salary up to a maximum of £ 2,500 a month.
The scheme, which has cost more than £ 35bn, was originally funded by the government, but companies began contributing to wages in September after the scheme began to wind up.
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Last week, the Treasury Select Committee said the government should consider a targeted expansion of the scheme.
In the first week of September, manufacturers warned of another wave of job cuts without expansion, and industry group CBI said a replacement was needed to avoid a “cliff edge”.
On Monday, the TUC said Chancellor Rishi Sunak should act to prevent a “tsunami” of job losses.
On Tuesday, Labor leader Keir Starmer called for the scheme to be replaced.
Unit Secretary Len McCluskey said on Wednesday that a signal from the government about targeted expansion of the scheme would “put the word out among struggling employers who are working hard to stabilize themselves in the face of huge challenges”.
“With our competing countries announcing the expansion or modification of their job retention schemes, we ask that your government recognize the need for UK companies and workers to receive similar support,” Mr McCluskey wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
A spokeswoman said Unite would see support for sectors including manufacturing, aviation infrastructure and aerospace and hospitality.
But in August, the government’s plan to end the scheme was backed by Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey, who said it was important that decision-makers helped workers “get ahead” and not keep them in unproductive jobs.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that extending the scheme will only keep people “in suspended animation”.
The government has repeatedly rejected calls for an extension of the scheme, saying it has served its purpose of curbing the economy during the coronavirus crisis.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said his priority is to find new ways to protect jobs.
A Treasury Department spokesman said: “The Furlough scheme has done what it was designed to do to save jobs and help people get back into employment”.
The spokesman said the government had made “unprecedented interventions”, including companies receiving £ 1,000 for every hard-working worker still employed in January, holidays, VAT cuts and the Kickstart scheme, which gives young people work experience.
“We have not hesitated to act in creative and effective ways to support jobs, and we will continue to do so when we recover from this crisis,” the spokesman added.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was hailed by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) in July as “an undeniable success in keeping furloughed employees attached to their jobs”, with 9.5 million people on the scheme at the time.
But employers planned more than 300,000 layoffs in June and July as the effects of the coronavirus continued to hit the economy.
Companies have continued to take staff off payrolls as they prepare for the end of the scheme.
Approx. 695,000 UK workers have left the payrolls of UK companies since March.