Recent figures reveal that the number of planned job redundancies in September was close to record levels, as the second wave of coronavirus swept the country.
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UK labour laws dictate that companies planning on laying off more than 20 employees need to notify the government about it. They need to file an HR1 Advance Notice of Redundancy form to lay-off employees, which reveals the number of anticipated job redundancy in the coming months.
Often, the number of actual redundancies recorded exceeds the number of planned redundancies, since smaller companies are not required to notify the government about redundancies involving fewer than 20 staff.
The latest data, released after a Freedom of Information request, show that in September, 82,000 jobs were at risk, which is three times the level recorded in September of the previous year. Several large companies like Shell, Virgin Atlantic, and Lloyds Bank were among the 1,734 employers who announced widespread job cuts.
Data from the Office of National Statistics correspondingly reveal that 227,000 redundancies were recorded between June and August, representing a record 113,000 increase over the previous three months.
Tony Wilson, Director of the Institute for Employment Studies, said, "What we may be seeing is firms who were intending to bring people back deciding that they can no longer do it because of the worsening economic climate.”
The slowdown in the job market can be mostly attributed to the new three-tier lockdown system being imposed in the UK, as well as the reduction in government support schemes.
The increased restrictions mean that a growing number of businesses, especially in the hospitality and leisure sector, are not able to bring in enough business to cover their operating costs. What’s more, the tapering of the furlough scheme over the past months has put added pressure on employers to contribute more towards their staff’s wages. With the furlough scheme due to be wound up in the next week and replaced with a less generous support scheme, this is likely to drive up the number of redundancies.
While many parts of the UK lifted their restrictions, others imposed a second lockdown which meant that many residents and working professionals could not go to their offices. Additionally, employees on furlough cannot claim universal credit and have to rely on their savings to get by.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a series of measures targeted towards providing employment support for companies and staff even after the furlough scheme ends. However, the outlook remains pretty bleak for the economy as per the latest figures.