During the four weeks from the end of April 2021 to the end of May 2021, in excess of one million workers came off furlough, coinciding with non-essential retail, pubs and restaurants starting to open up again. Wind back to the end of February 2021, and that figure increases to 2.4 million, with the same number remaining fully or flexi-furloughed, compared to a mid-pandemic high of 9 million.

The impending end of furlough – which will be withdrawn completely in September – is a sign of recovery, with staff being reintroduced into the workplace and contributing to a bounce back of local and national economies. In addition, the number of employees on payroll has reached its highest level since April 2020, reflecting an improvement in business and consumer confidence and higher-than-expected growth in the wider economy. As we move towards the phasing out of furlough at the end of September, employers are having to contribute more towards the salaries of their furloughed staff, and this will rise to 20% in August and September, just before the scheme closes. Overall, a staggering £25bn has so far been claimed to support for the self employed, while as many as 350,000 properties have paid no business rates for 15 months. To help with the transition further, more than nine in ten businesses will be eligible to enjoy a 66% reduction in business rates bills until March 2022.

For Rosa dos Santos, owner of Exact Sourcing, the furlough scheme has been a lifesaver, but businesses need to ensure they are geared up for its removal. ‘Many of our clients have taken advantage of the furlough scheme during the pandemic,’ comments Rosa. ‘However, it’s important to ensure that as a business you are prepared for when that support is withdrawn. We recommend that you start by determining who you need back and when you need them. This will give you a good indication of which roles are most needed. It’s also vital to communicate with your staff, giving them as much notice as possible as to what the future looks like.

‘There’s no doubt that furlough has provided essential support to businesses of all sizes across the UK, but that in turn means that its withdrawal could lead to a range of issues regarding HR and recruitment. As the shape of many businesses has been altered by Covid, certain roles within the organisation may have changed or – worst case – become redundant. But on the flip side, it may be that new roles may need to be created to respond to the “new normal”. Whatever the situation, here at Exact Sourcing we’re on hand to help our clients navigate the post-Covid waters.’

Exact Sourcing is a recruitment agency in Cambridge and Newmarket, and we also serve Ely, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Royston and Sawston. If you currently have employees on furlough and are concerned about how to ensure you have the correct staffing levels when the scheme comes to an end, why not contact us for an initial conversation?