‘Sunak explained that he saw no point in supplying further funding to maintain jobs that would be no longer sustainable...The chancellor appears to be hoping that employers will make the altruistic choice. Some will, but many will not’. – Will Clayton, employment analyst at Constantine Law.
In the aftermath of Rishi Sunak’s Job Support Scheme (JSS) announcement, thousands across the country have been contemplating what the new arrangement means for them – for their jobs, livelihoods, and futures. With the furlough scheme coming to an end on October 31st, it is as yet unclear who will benefit or miss out from the introduction of the JSS. How will it work in practice? Will employers follow the rules if they don’t have to? Are we about to see a spike in redundancies?
Here are five things you need to know about the upcoming changes due to take place – after all, it’s your career that’s at stake, and it’s essential that you have all the necessary information available to you, in order to make a decision about your future:
1. ‘Unsustainable’ and ‘unviable’ jobs are bearing the brunt
In the government’s layout of the plans ahead, they note that only ‘viable’ jobs are being supported. The definition of what is a ‘viable’ job is shrouded in ambiguity – the question is, what jobs count as un-viable? Surely every job is viable if it earns you a living?
‘It is fundamentally wrong to hold people in jobs that only exist inside the furlough’ – Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
2. JSS supports only those who are still in work
Here the scheme really emerges as a ‘watered-down’ furlough scheme. Those who are self-employed, or working in industries that haven’t been supported by the furlough scheme are, essentially, still unsupported, still struggling, still living without the certainties they deserve.
3. One third of pay will still be cut from overall wage
And even those workers who are still working in the ‘viable’ jobs with reduced hours – they’ll still have to admit a loss of a third of their wage. The new arrangement ensures that the employer and the government will each cover two thirds of the usual salary – the missing third will have to be taken on the chin. In a time of such financial uncertainty and job instability, where people have faced a 20% reduction in salary already through the furlough scheme, another third reduction is going to hit some people particularly hard.
‘It leaves many hundreds of thousands of workers...with a grim future’ – Julian Knight, Chairman of the Commons Culture Committee.
4. It costs employers more
As well-meaning as Sunak’s deal is, it takes employers’ generosity for granted. For example, imagine an employer had a workforce of fifteen, all on a third of their usual hours, yet still having to pay two-third of their usual wage for unworked hours. Why not just sack off ten of the workers, and pay the remaining five their normal full-time wage? It would save money and a headache – it’s actually cheaper just to sack the worker and pay someone else to work part-time!
‘We can’t continue to provide the same degree of support as we did at the beginning of this crisis and sustain it at that level … it’s not affordable’ – Chancellor Rishi Sunak
5. It doesn’t solve the overall problem
It doesn’t take an expert to observe that the new measures are another temporary fix. It doesn’t remove the inevitable cliff edge – we’re still heading towards it, it’s just been placed a bit further down the line. Meanwhile, hard-working people, who have faced months of stress and uncertainty, are faced with more of the same, as what exists of the safety net gets thinner and thinner. And the reality is, if you haven’t been able to work during the lockdown months, then you simply won’t benefit from the upcoming changes.
6. Confusion is still rife surrounding the scheme’s practicality
It’s just another case of waiting and seeing what happens on October 31st – another leap into the unknown. Appropriate timing for Halloween? Perhaps so, as it marks the beginning of another six months period of continued degradation; another few months of watching the ship slowly sinking, and only a rubber dinghy there to save you.
But the future doesn’t have to be as terrifying as all this. If you’re prepared to take one leap into the unknown, in the form of this next phase of job support, then we’re here to suggest another, far more secure and rewarding leap: into a new career.
The construction industry is faring well, all things considered, under the new system – better than most sectors in the UK. Why not learn a trade and invest in your future? If you’re out of work and facing the horrendous prospect of the future outlined above, it sounds like you have nothing to lose.
Learn your trade. Get qualified. Make it happen.