The UK Corona Virus Job Retention Scheme (aka The Furlough Scheme) is beginning to wind down to completion starting from 1 July, until 30 September when it will end completely.
As the scheme draws to a close, both employers and employees should be asking themselves what is next.
What is changing?
As of 1 July, government contributions will reduce, and UK employers will have to pay 10% of an employee’s salary while the government pays 70% making up a maximum payment of £2500. In August, the employer’s contribution will change to 20% and the government’s contribution to 60%.
As of 1 October, all government Corona Virus Job Retention Scheme contributions will stop and the employers will be expected to pay employee salaries in full, with a full return to work.
The Difficult Decisions of Leadership
The furlough scheme to date has been paid by the government, not the employers. If you are on flexible furlough, the days you work have been paid by your employer and the rest by the government. Furlough benefitted employers by reducing their wage bills, however they were still responsible for paying National Insurance Contributions, pension contributions, statutory sick pay and statutory leave.
The reality of the end of the scheme, although incredibly sad, is that employers will now have to hit the calculators and determine whether or not they can afford to bring all their employees back full time or make some redundant because they can no longer afford to pay them. I do not doubt that other options will be on the table, such as part-time working, reduced hours or private furlough schemes.
This certainly makes it all sound like the ball is firmly in the court of the employers, especially with reduced COVID redundancy payments, but that is not the case.
A Design for Life
The current job market is actually pretty buoyant, it may be frustrating in many ways like recruiters who ghost you or automatic systems that send out “We regret…” letters, but 70% of UK companies are not currently using the furlough scheme and there is a big drive to bring in the top talent.
As a result, there has never been a better time in history to consider all your options and really decide what you want to do in your work life, as well as deciding if things like returning to the office full-time really are for you. Does your company really care about your wellbeing? Did they care about you and your loved ones, and your mental health, while you spent your days and nights on Zoom calls, hosting meetings and then virtual “pub quizzes”? Did they force you to use your leave, not budging on the carry over rules, even though you would have to take your leave in exactly the same location in which you work and attend all those Zoom calls?
There has never been a better time for you to review your career history and decide if you want to carry on business as usual, or if you would like to try out all the things you have previously dreamed of. Imagine if you could spend your days working in that new skill or hobby you picked up in Lockdown 1 (the fun one) that helped the days be less monotonous?
Have you discovered you would actually love to run your own business, and have a mind filled with brilliant ideas you need to organise into a structured business plan? Have you realised you followed the wrong major at university, and you would love to study or learn something else instead? Or did you build something super awesome during lockdown and now realise you want to be a chippy instead? The possibilities are endless for you my friend. I believe in you and your dreams. The end of furlough and return to work needn’t be the terrifying and soul crushing experience you might think it is.
A Note on Redundancies to You My Friend
It is pertinent now to point out that COVID redundancies, and redundancies in general, are not personal. Usually, redundancy is the difference between a company surviving or collapsing. It is not an easy decision, and I have never seen a leader take any satisfaction from making their people redundant. It feels horrible, even when it’s a voluntary redundancy, because the very word alludes to ‘being of no value’. The honest truth is you are not your work or your career. You are an important, valued, loved human being, and you will get through this.
What do you think?
How are you feeling about furlough ending? Is your employer trying to decide who should stay and who should go? What is your plan for your career? Get in touch with me to see if coaching can help you define the next steps in your career. If you are having a hard time with the fear of redundancy, please get in touch even if just for a chat. I will happily share some strategies with you.