UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak will on Tuesday reveal the future of the government’s job retention scheme, amid growing calls to extend it amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently more than six million people are having up to 80 per cent of their wages paid by the government while they are temporarily on leave from their jobs due to an ongoing lockdown imposed due to the pandemic, reports the BBC.
Sunak had previously warned the furlough scheme, due to end in June, was not “sustainable” at its current rate.
The government is encouraging people in England to return to work if safe.
On Monday night, it published aguidance for making workplaces “COVID-19 secure”, including requiring employers to carry out risk assessments before they can reopen.
However, speaking at Monday’s Downing Street daily briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a “sudden big flood” of people returning to work was not expected, describing the latest measures as “baby steps”.
This latest development to the scheme comes as the government continues to defend its return to work message, issued in its latest coronavirus guidance for England.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC on Tuesday that ministers were being “incredibly cautious” about the changes, and insisted that everyone who can work from home should continue to do so “because obviously that’s the safest place to work”.
Asked whether people are protected by law if they felt unsafe in the workplace, Mr Hancock said employment law had not changed but that “businesses and employees should be working together to make the best of a very difficult situation”.
As of Tuesday morning, there were 224,332 COVID-19 cases in the UK with 32,141 deaths.