In the UK, some 9m workers are currently furloughed. By now, they are all too used to the concept of temporary lay-off that was virtually unknown before the coronavirus crisis.
The government’s decision to implement a radical subsidy of 80 per cent of furloughed workers’ wages has kept many companies afloat. But the UK scheme will come to an end in October, creating new stress for staff and posing difficult dilemmas for managers as they work out how to bring businesses back from lockdown.
Similar European schemes are also in place, amid warnings that if they are extended they could “trap people in unviable ‘zombie’ jobs”, deterred from switching to sectors with better prospects.
As Claer Barrett, editor of FT Money, pointed out in a recent useful column giving practical financial tips: “With many offices still working remotely, there is plenty of potential for things to go wrong and messages to be miscommunicated. Yet the economic reality is that large numbers of jobs are going to be lost”.
What has your experience of furlough been like and how are you preparing for the next steps in a career path that has suddenly taken an unexpected twist?
If you are one of those laid off temporarily, has it been a rare break from the daily grind? An opportunity to develop a side-hustle or new skill? Or a nightmarish mix of isolation, boredom and financial and job insecurity? Were you asked to break the UK rules and do a bit of your regular job on the quiet, or abruptly shut out of regular staff meetings?
If you stayed on as part of a furlough-depleted team, did you find you were doing all the extra work? Did you suffer from “survivor’s guilt”?
And if you’re a manager, how did you go about deciding the furlough list and how are you facing up to the new challenge of potentially having to make staff redundant?
Emma Jacobs, who has written extensively about the workplace and career planning, and Andrew Hill, our management editor and expert on leadership, responded to your stories and questions in the comments below this story.
In the meantime, here are some FT resources published earlier this year:
What is happening to the UK furlough scheme? June 1. Claer Barrett and Daniel Thomas answer reader questions in a video business clinic following the rule changes in late May.
Q&A: Advice for jobseekers, June 15. Claer Barrett and Isabel Berwick answer reader questions on practical steps to maximise the chances of re-employment.
Millions on furlough in fear of redundancy, June 19. Claer Barrett on the benefits available to workers.
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