One in eight workers still on furlough, official data shows

Figures also reveal the majority of employers are topping up the wages of those on the job retention scheme ahead of this being required in September

Just under one in eight UK workers are still on furlough, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), with the majority having their wages topped up by their employer.

In its fortnightly survey on the impact of Covid-19 on firms, the ONS found that 12 per cent of the workforce was still furloughed between 27 July to 9 August. Of these workers, 67 per cent were having their furlough pay topped up by their employer.

Under the job retention scheme, the government pays 80 per cent of furloughed employees’ wages to a maximum of £2,500 a month. Since the start of August, employers have been required to pay national insurance contributions. But, while they are allowed to voluntarily top up employees’ pay, there is no requirement for them to do this yet.

This will change from the start of September, however, when the government’s contributions will drop to 70 per cent and employers will be required to contribute at least 10 per cent of furloughed employee wages.

The ONS figures also showed a slight drop in the volume of online job adverts between 7 and 14 August 2020, falling from 62 per cent of the 2019 average to 58 per cent. This partially offset the large increase seen in the weeks preceding this period. However, the volume of job adverts was still higher than it had been in the two months prior, when this was closer to half the 2019 average.

A separate set of statistics released today, also from the ONS, reinforced the disproportionate effect the coronavirus outbreak was having on people with disabilities. Three-quarters (75 per cent) of people with a disability were very or somewhat worried about the impact coronavirus was having on their lives – compared to just 66 per cent of those without a disability.

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The data showed people with disabilities scored poorly on all measures of wellbeing. In June, disabled people were more likely than non-disabled to report the outbreak was affecting their wellbeing by worsening their mental health (46 per cent for disabled people, compared to just 18 per cent for non-disabled people) and because it made them feel lonely (42 per cent, compared to 29 per cent).

People with disabilities were also less likely to leave their homes for work. Of those surveyed between 8 and 19 July, just 21 per cent reported they had travelled for work in the last seven days, compared to over a third (39 per cent) of those without disabilities.