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Fri April 03 2020

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Contractors’ group challenges job retention scheme

24 Mar The Electrical Contractors Association (ECA) has voiced criticism of the business aid package unveiled by the chancellor of the exchequer last week.

The focus of the ECA’s concern is specifically the coronavirus job retention scheme, introducing a requirement for employers to decide who is in and who is out.

The ECA said that the divide created between workers kept on and those being furloughed could lead to ill-feeling and resentment in the workplace.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on 20th March that furloughed workers would be effectively paid 80% of their wages by the state to be kept on the payroll, but not undertake any work.

ECA director of employment and skills Andrew Eldred said: “The coronavirus job retention scheme surely represents one of the most extraordinary products of these times. An effective 80% state subsidy for wages in the private sector, in a previously liberal free-market economy.

“While ECA supports the principle and intentions of this scheme, there are many questions which remain unanswered. For instance, the need to potentially divide the workforce into two groups – those who continue to work, and those who are paid 80% of their wages by the state not to work – could cause ill-feeling and resentment.

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“Instead, ECA believes that a more flexible approach needs to be designed into the scheme from the start. First, employers should be given the option to share work more equitably between their employees. In addition, employers and their employees should be free to agree other reduced hours working arrangements, whilst still enjoying the security offered by the government’s 80% pay guarantee.”

ECA said that sharing work more equitably between employees could be achieved by them moving between working and furloughed status according to a structured pattern – for example, one week on followed by one week off.

ECA also wants employers and their employees to be free to agree other reduced hours working arrangements, while still benefitting from the security offered by the government’s 80% pay guarantee.

For a full list of what financial support is available for businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, see our previous report here.

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