Furlough 2021: When will the furlough scheme end and what will this mean for employees claiming it in NI?
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The furlough scheme has helped employees and businesses throughout the pandemic stay afloat, but now the end is in sight.
What was furlough?
Furlough was brought in by former Chancellor Rishi Sunak in March 2020.
It was only meant to last for three months but has been extended five times to help support workers in industries hit hard by the pandemic.
The scheme helped retain jobs, with the government supporting businesses by covering up to 80% of staff wages at a cap of £2,500 a month.
In July 2021, this cap fell to 70% at £2,187.50 and then again in August it dropped further to 60%, capped at £1,875.
Responsibility to pay the remainder of the furloughed income, plus pension and National Insurance contributions fell on employers.
When does the scheme end?
The scheme will end on Thursday, September, 30, 2021.
How many people are still on furlough?
Recent figures from July 31, found that as many as 1.6 million people are still receiving furlough.
What happens when furlough ends?
According to the government there are choices for business once furlough ends.
Employers must decide to either:
Bring back their employees to work
Terminate their employment (normal redundancy rules apply)
Agree any changes to terms and conditions of employment with employees
In light of this and the scheme ending, the Bank of England is anticipating a small rise in unemployment.
How many people in Northern Ireland are on furlough?
Recent figures from the end of July showed that there were 36,090 people in Northern Ireland on furlough across a variety of sectors outlined below.
Wholesale and retail; repair of motor vehicles - 6,420
Accommodation and food services - 5,520
Manufacturing - 5,140
Construction - 3,100
Professional, scientific and technical - 2,520
Administrative and support services - 2,490
Health and social work - 2,110
Transportation and storage - 2,000
Information and communication, Financial and insurance & Real estate - 1,990
Arts, entertainment and recreation - 1,490
Other service activities - 1,790
Other - 1,520
Is there a chance the furlough scheme could be extended?
The scheme has already been extended five times.
The government have ruled out extending it any further as the scheme was only designed to be temporary.
Will unemployment rise?
There is a concern that some businesses that are still being impacted by the pandemic will not be able to afford to keep their workers on.
The Bank of England are anticipating a small rise in unemployment.
If you are made redundant whilst on furlough, you must be given notice and you are entitled to tax-free redundancy pay.
You can find out more about redundancy and your rights on the government website here.