// The government’s coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended until June
// It allows workers affected by the lockdown to be paid 80% of their salaries up to a maximum of £2500 a month
// The decision comes a day after Brits were told they would have to stay at home for at least another 3 weeks
The UK Government has announced it will pay for staff to remain on furlough for at least another month, as employees are forced to stay home due to the extended lockdown.
This afternoon Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would remain under review as he extended it until at least the end of June.
It allows workers who have been sent home by their employers due to the lockdown to be paid 80 per cent of their salaries up to a maximum of £2500 a month.
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Retail workers are particularly affected, with high streets and shopping centres nationwide effectively deserted, and only essential services – such as grocers, convenience stores, off-licences and pharmacies – allowed to remain open.
Online retail is also still permitted during lockdown, athough the retailers are strongly encouraged to follow guidance around social distancing and health safety measures in warehouses and among delivery drivers.
Similar measures have been implemented among supermarkets.
“It is vital for people’s livelihoods that the UK economy gets up and running again when it is safe to do so, and I will continue to review the scheme so it is supporting our recovery,” Sunak said.
The decision comes just a day after Brits were told they would have to stay at home for at least another three weeks before lockdown restrictions are lifted.
Sunak’s announcement also comes after experts had warned that businesses would have to start consulting on redundancies unless furlough measures were extended.
Companies that need to lay off more than 100 people must run a 45-day consultation before making any redundancy.
“This is very welcome news for workers and their families,” Trades Union Congress general secretary Frances O’Grady said.
“If the scheme had not been extended, the deadline for redundancy consultation notices would have been tomorrow (Saturday).
“So it was vital that this announcement came quickly after the lockdown extension.”
Earlier today, Confederation of British Industry head Carolyn Fairbairn said the government had to move quickly to protect staff.
“This is quite urgent,” she told BBC Breakfast.
Ahead of the Chancellor’s announcement, Phil Pepper, head of employment at law firm Shakespeare Martineau, said: “Those organisations which currently can’t afford to pay wages and salaries after the May stop date will have to start considering making job cuts now.”
During a consultation period, bosses first talk to unions or staff representatives, before launching individual consultations with the staff who are likely to lose their jobs.
with PA Wires