How to wind down the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme while keeping us all afloat

Support people back to work safely, and maintain an anchor that protects those who can't from being swept into poverty.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been a vital lifeline that has helped businesses and individuals to stay afloat in the COVID-19 storm. This briefing, sent to key political and policy stakeholders on 7 May, sets out ideas for how the CJRS can be wound down to ensure businesses are supported to reopen, as many workers as possible are able to safely return to work, and workers who are unable to return for health or caring reasons can continue to keep their heads above water.

Recommendations for the CJRS in the next phase:

1. The full CJRS should be retained for a limited period to maintain a lifeline for sectors likely to be affected most by prolonged social distancing measures.

2. A form of Short-Time Working should be introduced to enable businesses and employees the freedom and flexibility to return to work in a safe environment.

3. The full CJRS should continue to be available to individuals who:

  • Have health conditions which mean they are clinically extremely vulnerable to the coronavirus for as long as public health guidance remains. Government should provide clear guidance to employers to furlough workers in this group.
  • Live in a household with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.
  • Are unable to work due to caring responsibilities. This should last for as long as nurseries and schools remain closed.

4. Government should strengthen the ability of people who are unable to work because of health or caring reasons to request to be furloughed.

5. Support should be introduced for workers who are furloughed for prolonged periods to access training and learning opportunities.

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