UK chancellor Rishi Sunak will unveil the future of the government's job retention scheme on Tuesday, a day after the UK government unveiled the details of its exit strategy for lifting the lockdown.
The job retention scheme is intended to help employers retain jobs, instead of cutting them. The government scheme means that furloughed staff would be paid up to 80% of their wages by the state — up to £2,500 ($3,082) — and companies then can make the decision to top up the remaining 20% of the wages.
The nation has been in lockdown for nearly two months and nearly a quarter of the UK workforce has been furloughed — which is when they are temporarily on leave from their jobs. More than 6 million people are having up to 80% of their wages paid by the government.
The job retention scheme is meant to end on 1 June but there have been calls to extend it due to progression of the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK currently has the second worst death toll in the world, only behind the US. The number of people who have died after testing positive for coronavirus in the UK has increased by 210, bringing the total to 32,065, according to the Department of Health on Monday (11 May).
A total of 223,060 people have tested positive for the virus in the UK — an increase of 3,877 from the day before.
Sunak has previously warned that job retention scheme was not "sustainable" at its current rate. He also promised there would be no "cliff edge" cut-off.
The UK government published guidance on Monday on how workers who can work from home should keep doing so “for the foreseeable future,” but those who can’t, should return to work. Sectors in focus have been construction and manufacturing.
The most recent survey by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests about 44% of people in employment are working from home during the lockdown.
Government guidance has also outlined how workplaces need to make sure they are "COVID secure," which means employers may be required to carry out risk assessments before they can reopen. Mitigating risks include still maintaining social distancing rules of two metres as well as stopping hot-desking or doing in-person meetings in smaller enclosed spaces.
According to a new study from McKinsey, about 24% of the UK workforce is at risk from either permanent layoffs, temporary furloughs, or reductions in hours and pay as a result of the pandemic.