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4 September, 2020 Open access

TUC outlines proposal for new COVID-19 Job Protection and Upskilling Scheme

New scheme would build on the lessons of the CJRS and best practice from across Europe, but come with new conditions for businesses accessing support

The TUC has outlined a proposal for a new Job Protection and Upskilling Scheme.

While acknowledging that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has done vital work in protecting jobs and has supported the wages of 9.6 million people, the TUC says that a more targeted successor scheme is now needed to support jobs in key industries and give people the skills needed for the future.

With the Bank of England estimating that unemployment could rise to 7.5 per cent by the end of the year, the TUC says that it is clear that the Job Retention Bonus proposed in the Chancellor’s summer statement won't be enough to stop millions of people losing their livelihoods. In addition, the TUC highlights that in previous downturns young people and those who face structural discrimination in the workplace - including Black and disabled workers - tend to lose work first.

As a result, the TUC proposes a new Jobs Protection and Upskilling scheme, building on the lessons of the CJRS and best practice from across Europe -

'It was right for the CJRS to be available to all businesses. But now we need more targeted support. Our scheme would provide businesses with 70 per cent of wages and associated costs for those hours a worker is not working. But they would have to show that:

  • they’ve been affected by coronavirus restrictions.
  • they have brought back each worker they’re claiming for a minimum period of their normal working time – with exceptions for local lockdowns or for workers who are shielding or can’t work because of caring responsibilities.

Workers would continue to receive 80 per cent of their wages for their non-working time – up to the same cap of £2,500, as in the CJRS.

We know that workers on the minimum wage have faced real hardship while on furlough – so their wages should not fall below the legal minimum for their normal working hours.

Self-employed people, including those who have missed out on previous support, should also receive support.'

In addition, because not everyone will be able to return to their full working hours, the TUC proposes that -

'... we should use this non-working time to provide workers with the skills they need for the jobs of the future – in green industries, in new public services and beyond. The new scheme would provide every worker working less than 50 per cent of their normal hours with an offer of funded training, brokered through the National Retraining Partnership.'

NB - while calling for the government to support businesses to stop the threat of mass unemployment becoming a reality, the TUC says that the support should come with new conditions designed to promote decent work. Its scheme would therefore require businesses accessing support to -

For more information, see We need a new plan to build on the Job Retention Scheme from tuc.org.uk