The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, or CJRS, the UK “furlough” programme that ends on September 30, 2021; however, data from the ONS suggests that most UK employees are already back at work atleast in part-time jobs.
Throughout the first half of 2021, the use of the furlough programme has decreased. According to an ONS business survey, only 1.5 percent of employees were still on full furlough in late July, with 2.2 percent on partial furlough.
65.4 percent of workers were at their regular workplace, 27.1 percent were mostly working from home rather than their regular location, and 1.8 percent were on sick leave or otherwise unavailable.
As the use of the furlough system has dwindled, the unemployment rate has stayed low. In the most recent month, April, the jobless rate was 4.8 percent.
This indicates that workers who have been on furlough are not returning to work, implying that furlough has successfully preserved jobs during a period of extraordinary crisis — but at a high cost.
However, a closer examination of employment data reveals that the UK’s employment rate remains lower than it was pre-crisis. The rate of economic inactivity, e.g. not working or job seekers, has also increased.
In some cases, this may be for health reasons; it may be persistent effects of COVID or other conditions which have been left untreated.
However, IGD’s conversations with businesses have revealed another possibility: one of COVID’s effects has been to modify citizens’ attitudes toward work and life, leading to some citizens seeking a less work-focused existence.
Another important element is that IGD contacts have voiced concern about a scarcity of workers in several roles; it is clear that the conclusion of the furlough will not result in a huge number of workers returning to work.