Coronavirus live blog

26 Oct 2020 By PM Editorial

Keep up to date with what actions employers are taking to tackle the Covid-19 crisis with People Management's live commentary

Monday 26 October

1pm Helping employees self-manage conditions such as long Covid

Workplace support for those with long-term ill-health is currently insufficient, says Sally Hemming, but must now be viewed as essential.

12.45pm How HR can prepare for insolvency

Raoul Parekh and Ben Smith explain what people professionals need to consider when faced with potential administration buy-outs.

12.30pm What benefits should you be providing to home workers?

Office perks such as free food or a gym membership are often seen by employees as a major benefit – and sometimes even the major attraction – of joining an organisation. A free hot meal, fresh fruit and Friday drinks are welcome bonuses that some staff came to expect pre-Covid.

But such workplace perks are of course difficult to deliver for many businesses during a pandemic, and could disappear altogether where firms roll out long-term home working or even decide they don’t need an office space at all. There’s evidence employers are giving the matter careful thought, however. A recent survey of 144 employers by Howden found almost three in four (72 per cent) were planning to review their employee benefits provision as a direct result of the pandemic, and more than a third (38 per cent) felt they were now ‘much more important’ than pre-Covid.

So People Management asked experts if benefits should be rethought, and if so what now-obsolete offerings should be replaced with, including the pros and cons of more generous expense policies to support staff working from home.

9.30am Local lockdowns could worsen job recovery, says think tank 

Deserted high streets caused by local lockdowns are damaging the British job market recovery, according to the Centre for Cities. New research from the think tank has found urban areas in Scotland and southern England have seen the biggest declines in job postings, and vacancies have failed to return to pre-pandemic levels across all 63 of the UK towns and cities it analysed. Aberdeen has recorded the steepest fall, because of a struggling oil industry, with a 75 per cent decline in job vacancies at the beginning of October, compared to the same time last year. It is followed by Edinburgh at 57 per cent, while Belfast and Crawley were at 55 per cent.

Centre for Cities said the drop in hiring was concentrated in sectors affected by Covid-19 restrictions such as retail, arts and leisure. This could have potentially catastrophic long-term consequences for both people and the economy, said the think tank’s chief executive, Andrew Carter. “The government has told us to expect a tough winter and while local lockdowns are necessary to protect lives, it is vital that ministers continue to listen and reassess the level of support given to help people and places to cope with the months ahead," he said.

7.30am Royal Mail seeks record number of Christmas temps

Royal Mail is looking to recruit a record number of temporary seasonal jobs as a result of a surge in online shopping during the pandemic. The mail carrier said it aims to hire 33,000 additional workers for the Christmas period – two-thirds more than usual at this time of year. Royal Mail typically employs between 15,000 and 23,000 extra staff between October and January. It said that a higher number of workers was needed to help sort Christmas deliveries of letters, cards and parcels this year because many consumers are staying at home under Covid-19 restrictions and shopping online. 

More than 13,000 temporary mail centre sorting posts are available in England, about 1,400 posts in Scotland, 700 posts in Wales and 500 posts in Northern Ireland. The temporary workers will support more than 115,000 postmen and women in permanent roles. About 1,000 of the new recruits will work for the company's new Covid-19 testing kit collection team.

7.15am Lloyds staff to work from home until next spring

Lloyds Banking Group will ask staff currently working from home as a result of the coronavirus pandemic to continue doing so until at least spring 2021. The group said the decision was in line with government guidance, which recommends people work from home where possible to limit the spread of Covid. 

The majority of Lloyds Banking Group's 65,000 staff are presently working from home. Although staff continue to operate in high street bank branches. A spokesperson for Lloyds Banking Group said in a statement: "In line with guidance from the UK and national governments, and given the majority of our colleagues are working from home, we have asked them to continue to do so until at least spring."

Friday 23 October 

5.50pm Test and trace app users won’t get self-isolation payments

Users of the official NHS Test and Trace app in England and Wales who are told by the app to self isolate will not be eligible for government support, the BBC has reported.

Low-income individuals told by the NHS to self isolate via a phone call can claim a £500 payment from their local authority. However the Department of Health has said that because the app is anonymous, there is currently no way of issuing individuals instructed to self-isolate through the app with the payment. The government has said it is looking for a way to change that.

While it is currently an offence to ignore an instruction from NHS Test and Trace to self isolate, with those failing to comply facing fines of up to £10,000, the government has previously acknowledged that the anonymous nature of the app means there is no way of knowing who has been told through the app to self-isolate. This means any instruction to self-isolate given by the app would be voluntary.

2.30pm KFC to create 5,400 jobs in the UK and Ireland

KFC says it plans to create 5,400 new jobs in the UK and Ireland by the end of 2020. The chain, which has 965 restaurants across the UK and Ireland, says some of the new jobs will be funded by the government's Kickstart scheme, which is designed to help employment prospects for young people at risk of long-term unemployment. The new posts will be in addition to the 4,300 new recruits that KFC says it has taken on since March.

Paula Mackenzie, KFC’s general manager for the UK and Ireland, said: "This year is going to be even more challenging for young people looking for job opportunities. But we know that all the skills the hospitality sector teaches – the importance of hard work, delivering great service and working as part of a team – will hugely help them in the long run."

1.30pm One in 10 furloughed staff asked to work, report finds

One in 10 furloughed employees worked for their employer while on the scheme, a report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has found – a clear breach of furlough that could see companies face prosecution. In the report, the NAO warned billions had been lost to furlough fraud. In addition to the 9 per cent of employees who were asked to work despite being on furlough, 4 per cent were paid less than 80 per cent of their wages, it found.

The report estimated that the level of fraud could affect up to 10 per cent of those on the scheme. With the job retention scheme expected to cost £54.5bn, this equated to around £5.45bn. However, the report stated: “HMRC will not know the actual levels until the end of 2021 at the earliest.”

1.20pm The new job support scheme: what's changed for employers?

With less than two weeks to go before it was due to launch, chancellor Rishi Sunak has completely overhauled his new job support scheme, slashing the contribution employers will be required to make and reducing the minimum amount of hours short-time employees are required to work to be eligible,

So with employers given just nine days to get up to speed with the new system, People Management takes a look at what’s new and any grey areas created.

12.15pm New changes to employment tribunals

With the pandemic putting the system under continuing pressure, recent updates aim to significantly reduce the backlog of cases, as Laura Farnsworth explains.

11am Over half of SMEs fear for their survival, poll shows

More than half (55 per cent) of small firms in Europe expect to shut down by September next year if their revenues remain at current levels, a McKinsey survey of more than 2,200 companies in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK has found. Small and medium-sized companies – defined as those with 250 or fewer staff – together provide jobs for two-thirds of European workers. The poll was conducted in August, before the new wave of coronavirus cases hit Europe.

10.20am More than nine in 10 Sussex Food staff at risk of redundancy

The majority of staff at Sussex University’s catering provider Sussex Food have been warned that their roles are at risk of being made redundant, according to the Sussex Tab. Chartwells Higher Education, which runs Sussex Foods, announced that 51 of the current 55 workers (92 per cent) were at risk of redundancy. The proposed changes were announced earlier this month as Chartwells said its business has been heavily affected by the pandemic. 

A spokesperson for Chartwells said: “Due to the reduction in demand for catering on campus as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the introduction of subsequent social distancing requirements, our food service operations have been significantly impacted. While we have worked hard to do all that we can to protect jobs, we have unfortunately had to enter into redundancy consultation with some of our colleagues working across our catering provisions at the university.” The restructure is set to finish on 17 November.

10am Gap considering UK and Europe store closures 

Fashion retailer Gap is considering closing all of its 129 company-owned stores in Europe and a distribution centre in Rugby next year, potentially putting hundreds of jobs at risk. The company, which has more than 70 stores in the UK and four in Ireland, as well as outlets in France and Italy, said it now wanted to operate in Europe through “partnerships”, potentially both online and in stores. Currently the group has 158 franchise stores in Europe, on top of the company-owned outlets, and said that was where its focus would lie. The company also said it was reviewing its warehouse and distribution model and its Gap and Banana Republic-owned e-commerce operations in Europe.

Thursday 22 October

1.50pm Covid causing ‘perfect storm’ of outstanding tribunal cases, report warns

Whistleblowers sacked for raising concerns about employers breaching Covid-19 guidelines are among those being denied justice because of a record backlog of cases at employment tribunals, according to a new analysis of government data. It warned outstanding claims were set to exceed half a million by spring next year, amid a "perfect storm" of rising demand and restricted capacity.

The Tribunal trouble report, released today (22 October) by Citizens Advice, also revealed that, in the first half of this year, nearly three in 10 (29 per cent) unfair dismissal cases were abandoned by employees who faced average waits of more than nine months to get their cases heard. “The increased delays to redress arising in the pandemic threaten to effectively deny redress altogether. Some claimants may conclude that withdrawing their case now is preferable to a lengthy limbo period and an unknown outcome at tribunal,” the report said.

1.30pm Chancellor slashes job support scheme employer contributions

The chancellor has made the job support scheme more generous following complaints that businesses affected by local lockdown restrictions but not told to close were missing out on vital financial aid. In a statement to parliament this morning, Rishi Sunak cut the contribution that employers on the scheme will be required to make, and reduced the minimum number of hours employees would have to work to be eligible.

Originally businesses were required to contribute 33 per cent of the wages for the time that employees on the scheme were not working. However, this will now be reduced to just 5 per cent, while the government’s contribution will increase to 62 per cent of hours not worked. 

Similarly, the minimum number of hours employees would need to work to be eligible has been reduced from 33 per cent of their normal hours to 20 per cent. The more generous job support scheme would be made available to eligible companies regardless of which of the government’s three tiers they were covered by, Sunak said. 

12.40pm Supporting parents should be for life, not just parental leave

Covid has had a huge impact on working mums and dads, says Lucinda Quigley, so now is the time to reassess how businesses help them.

11am 170,000 jobs in UK's live music sector 'will be lost by Christmas'

The UK’s live music sector is facing the loss of 170,000 jobs – almost two-thirds of its workforce – as the hard-hit industry approaches a “cliff edge” after the winding up of the government’s furlough scheme at the end of the month. The research, conducted on behalf of Live, the umbrella group representing the live music industry, estimated that the live music sector would see an 80 per cent decline in revenues this year as a result of the pandemic. 

The research predicted that 64 per cent of the sector’s 262,000 workers would be out of a job by Christmas. Of the 52,200 permanently employed staff, half are predicted to lose their jobs when the furlough scheme ends. But the hardest hit will be the 210,000 self-employed and freelance workers who have full-time equivalent roles, with 144,000 expected to lose their jobs. Chris Carey, economist and co-author of the report, said: “From the artists on stage to the venues and the many specialist roles and occupations that make live music happen, this research shows clearly that the entire ecosystem is being decimated.”

10.45am How has coronavirus changed the role of HR?

Allison Crabtree explores the ways the pandemic has affected people professionals’ responsibilities and priorities.

10.15am Up to 65 jobs to be axed at Ports of Jersey

Up to 65 jobs could be lost as Ports of Jersey reshapes its business in the wake of plummeting demand for travel because of the pandemic. Ports of Jersey has begun a consultation process aimed at cutting around 15 per cent of its 420 in-house staff through a combination of voluntary redundancy and early retirement. This would equate to a £3m reduction in costs.

Matt Thomas, chief executive of Ports of Jersey, said the decision to cut jobs had been put off for as long as possible, but that rising infection rates that had affected the whole of Europe in recent weeks meant the process could no longer be avoided. He said: "When the borders opened in July, we started to move back towards sustainability, but couldn’t continue that progress once we reached September. We could ride one wave, but the second wave has meant we’ve had to take these steps – sadly we are not immune to the effects of the virus."

10am More than 100 jobs at risk at Leeds Bradford Airport

Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) has confirmed that it has entered into a consultation process with 158 staff regarding redundancies, with 107 permanent positions set to be cut. LBA said the decision was made as a result of the challenges of the global pandemic, and said it had been operating in "extraordinary circumstances". The airport said cuts were necessary for the business to survive the short-term impact of the crisis, but that the decision was separate to its "long-term aspirations", which include a £150m expansion.

A spokesperson for LBA said: “We are deeply saddened to be consulting with a number of colleagues because of the impact of the global pandemic. Like most businesses, we are operating in extraordinary circumstances and this has led to some difficult decisions. The long-term prognosis for aviation is very different to the short-term constraints our business faces and we regrettably must act to safeguard the business.”

9.30 Chancellor to increase support for businesses in tier two areas

The chancellor is expected to announce new job support measures for employers in tier two areas. Rishi Sunak is due to give a statement in parliament this morning where he is likely to provide an update to the job support scheme following criticism that many businesses in England have been economically affected by new restrictions but have missed out on support because they have not been told to close.

As it currently stands, only employers in tier three areas that have been told to close are eligible for the extended furlough scheme – which pays two-thirds of employees wages and does not require any employer contributions. However, many companies under tier two lockdown, particularly in the hospitality sector, face additional restrictions but are denied access to the more generous furlough scheme.

9am HSBC to cut 300 jobs in UK commercial banking restructure

HSBC has reportedly launched a restructuring of its commercial banking branch in the UK, which will lead to around 300 jobs being lost, according to reports by City A.M. The restructure is part of a wider overhaul announced by HSBC earlier this year as it seeks to cut costs in the wake of the pandemic, global economic uncertainty and squeezed margins. The three-year plan aims to cut $4.5bn (£3.4bn) in costs and will result in the loss of 35,000 jobs worldwide. 

An HSBC spokesperson said: “In line with the group strategy announced in February, we continue to restructure and review the roles required to transform the bank." However, the bank would not comment on specific figures for the job losses.

Wednesday 21 October

3.45pm More than half of supermarket workers say business is better placed to deal with second wave

More than half (60 per cent) of retail workers have said their businesses are now better placed to deal with the second wave – increasing to 66 per cent when looking at just supermarket workers – a poll has found.

The survey of 2,000 frontline retail workers, conducted by Axonify, also found the sector had faced a large amount of employee churn. Nearly two-fifths of retail staff (39 per cent) had taken on new roles during the crisis, rising to 65 per cent among supermarket staff.

Carol Leaman, chief executive of Axonify, said: “It is no question that the grocery and retail industries have been directly in the eye of the storm, so they have certainly been dealing with more chaos than the average employer.”

1.30pm The government’s three-tier system: how five employers are responding

People Management spoke to HR leaders in ‘high’ and ‘very high’ alert areas to find out whether this has affected their approach to home working and staff safety.    

1.15pm Key HR considerations of the move to remote working

Hannah Netherton and Anna Cope explore whether employment law can keep pace with the home working revolution.

11.30am Evening Standard makes further cuts to workforce 

Evening Standard journalists revealed online that at least 16 newsroom colleagues have been made redundant over the past week because of Covid-19 restrictions. According to a report from the Press Gazette, the London paper expects to lose 69 editorial positions – a 40 per cent cut to newsroom staff – as part of wider redundancies that could see a total of 115 job losses. 

An Evening Standard spokesperson said in August: “The proposed restructuring underway at the Evening Standard is a result of the difficult market conditions that have affected the entire media industry over recent times; these challenging conditions have been further accentuated by Covid-19.”

10am UBS to give lower-paid staff coronavirus bonus

UBS has said it would give its lower-ranking staff an extra week’s pay as it reported increased profits through the crisis. The bank said the one-time payment was a “sign of appreciation” for their contributions during the outbreak, and in recognition of the fact that many of its lower-paid employees may have been financially impacted by the virus. It said the bonus would cost the company $30m (£23m).

Sergio Ermotti, the bank’s group chief executive officer, said: “I am proud of the contributions all of our employees have made day in and day out over the years, particularly in the current challenging environment.”

Tuesday 20 October

4.40pm More than 1,800 Greater Manchester pubs set to close as government enforces tier three restrictions 

The government will impose tier three restrictions on Greater Manchester as week-long negotiations with local leaders failed to come to an agreement before today’s midday deadline. It is estimated that more than 1,800 pubs and 140 wine bars will close. 

Communities secretary Robert Jenrick advised the prime minister that discussions between the government and northern leaders over funding “concluded without an agreement”, as the proposed support package offered by central government fell £15m short of Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham’s request of £65m.

The collapse of the talks will likely result in the closure of pubs and bars and other non-essential businesses for 28 days. It is not yet confirmed when this will come into force.

12pm What does effective leadership for remote working look like?

Overseeing teams that don’t meet face to face isn’t easy, and requires the ability to engage, enable, empower and trust, says Niall Eyre.

10am Travellers flying from Heathrow to Hong Kong to be offered rapid Covid tests

Passengers flying from London Heathrow to Hong Kong will be given the option of paying for a rapid coronavirus test before boarding their flight. The test will cost £80 and promises to provide a result within an hour. Speaking to the BBC, Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said the test would likely appeal to business travellers but that he hoped the price would eventually drop.

“For business passengers £80 is probably quite competitive but we've certainly said to the government in terms of introducing a test on arrival in the UK anything from £50-£60 would be better,” he said.

Hong Kong requires any travellers to show they have had a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of their arrival. The test is not being offered to people travelling to the UK and arrivals are still expected to follow the quarantining rules; however, transport minister Grant Shapps has separately said the government was hoping to introduce testing of international arrivals alongside shorter quarantine periods by December.

Monday 19 October        

4.50pm Remote working sees Deloitte close four UK offices 

Deloitte is planning to close its Gatwick, Liverpool, Nottingham and Southampton offices over the coming months as remote working has reduced its need for office space. Around 500 employees at those sites will be offered full-time remote working, the Financial Times reported, with the firm “continually reviewing” the rest of its estate portfolio. 

Stephen Griggs, Deloitte’s UK managing partner, told the FT: “Covid-19 has fast-tracked our future of work programme, leading us to review our real estate portfolio and how we use our offices across the UK, including London.”

He added that all employees at the four offices due for closure would “continue to be employed by Deloitte” and that the changes would not impact its presence in the regions. 

4.20pm Hospitality and retail businesses to shut in Wales from Friday 

Pubs, restaurants, hotels and non-essential shops must shut in Wales from Friday until 9 November under new “firebreak” lockdown rules. In response to rising cases in the region, first minister Mark Drakeford said the time-limited lockdown would be a “short, sharp shock to turn back the clock, slow down the virus and buy us more time". The new restrictions will also see a ban on mixing between households, whether indoors or outdoors, and all non-essential cross border travel in and out of Wales prohibited for the duration.

1.20pm Nine in 10 employees will need to reskill by 2030, report finds

Nine in 10 UK employees will have to reskill by 2030 as a result of the pandemic accelerating changes to the world of work, according to a report from the Confederation of British Industry. The report, based on analysis by McKinsey, found that in the next decade 26 million workers would require upskilling to keep up to date with technological and business developments as their role evolved. Meanwhile, another five million would go through a fundamental job change and require retraining, it discovered.

Kirstie Donnelly, chief executive at City & Guilds Group, said coronavirus had created a hugely challenging environment for employers and workers, adding that automation had forced “millions of people into unemployment” without adequate skills to form a new career. Donnelly said: “With unemployment set to rise above 3.4 million by the end of year and potentially a no-deal Brexit on the horizon, what we need now is a clear vision for lifelong learning that is focused on helping people to identify the transferable skills they have and develop the new skills they will need both now and throughout the rest of their working lives." 

1pm Exclusive data on HR’s reaction to the reopening offices U-turn: how do you compare?

After a month of encouraging employers and staff in England to start repopulating their offices – with one minister even suggesting workers who continued to work from home might be more likely to face redundancy – in the closing weeks of September the prime minister pulled an abrupt U-turn. Facing a surge in the rate of infections, Boris Johnson said those who could should go back to working at home, before stressing that workers who were unable to – including those in the construction sector – could still go in, as long as their workplace was Covid secure.

The situation has escalated since then. The daily rate of infections is now on a par with the height of the outbreak in May, and the government recently announced a new tiered local lockdown system in England – bringing it more in line with the stricter rules in Scotland and Wales. Meanwhile Northern Ireland has announced a two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown that would see schools close again.

However, the change in advice in England on working from home is still just that – advice. There is no legal obligation for employers to shut their offices as long as they are confident they are Covid secure. And many employers are in fact not closing their offices again, a People Management poll of 232 readers has revealed. While 42 per cent said they were keeping their offices open but discouraging their use, 51 per cent said their workplaces were open with no new restrictions in place. Just 7 per cent said they had shut their offices entirely.

12.40pm “After contracting coronavirus in March, I’m still ill – HR must support people like me”

Employers should prepare for staff with ‘long Covid’, says Judith Grant, who has suffered chronic symptoms including fatigue, difficulty breathing and a racing heart. 

12pm University of Leicester employees warned of potential compulsory redundancies 

The University of Leicester had written to some 3,800 employees, warning of wide-ranging job losses as it seeks to secure its future as a "world leading" establishment. In a letter seen by LeicestershireLive, the university cautioned thousands of staff members about potential compulsory redundancies as it seeks to "disinvest" in some areas.

The university declined to say how many posts were at risk but, in a letter to staff, vice chancellor Professor Nishan Canagarajah said: "I recognise this will be a difficult period for those colleagues involved in any future changes. I do not underestimate the impact this will have on colleagues across the university. I am not doing this lightly." The vice chancellor said he would work with trade unions and the student unions as the plans developed over the coming months.

9.30am Boots staff ‘encouraged’ to return to Nottingham HQ 

Boots employees have revealed they were “encouraged” to return to its Nottingham-based headquarters, despite government advice to work from home where possible. 

According to the Guardian, messages from senior managers indicating that staff were expected to be at their desks for at least part of the week have been criticised by employees, as Nottingham has the highest rate of infection in England. A spokesperson for Boots said the Nottingham site remains open “in line with government guidance”, but because of social distancing measures it is “suggesting a blend of home and office working”. 

“Colleague safety remains paramount and we have comprehensive measures in place across all our workplaces to ensure they are Covid-secure and that they more than meet government guidelines. We recognise, however, that for some colleagues it remains appropriate – or necessary – to work from home full time, and we are happy to support individuals to do this,” it said.

7.20am NEC Group to axe 450 jobs

Almost 450 jobs are to be cut at the NEC Group, which has reported "almost zero revenue" as a result of coronavirus. The proposed redundancies equate to 55 per cent of the Birmingham-based firm's permanent workforce. The NEC Group said the decision had been "extremely difficult", but it had no option but to "reduce our cost base significantly".

Paul Thandi, CEO of the NEC Group, said he had hoped the group's venues would be able to reopen for trade exhibitions and conferences from the start of this month, with strict safety measures in place, but this has been prevented because of the new restrictions. He also said the business was unable to access emergency funds from the government, which had left the NEC Group in an "unsustainable position". 

Friday 16 October

12.40pm Furlough fraud caused by scheme being ‘hastily drawn up’, report finds

A group of MPs has criticised the level of fraud happening through the furlough scheme, and called on the government to publish a list of all the companies receiving money through the system.

A report by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), published today (16 October), confirmed an estimated £3.5bn of furlough payments may have been fraudulent, and warned that the full effects of the outbreak on taxpayer compliance was yet to be seen.

HMRC had “understandably” carried out fewer investigations since the start of lockdown as it prioritised the implementation of the job retention scheme and other coronavirus support measures, the report said. However, this had led to a “large backlog” of furlough fraud cases and “significant fraud and error” in the scheme. Commenting on today’s report, a government spokesperson said the scheme was “designed to minimise fraud from the outset” and that thousands of fraudulent claims had been rejected

12.35pm Pret A Manger and Edinburgh Woollen Mill to cut jobs

Both Pret A Manger and Edinburgh Woollen Mill have announced job cuts today. Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, which also owns fashion chains Peacocks and Jaeger, confirmed that 50 stores would shut because of the negative impact of the pandemic on the business. The closures are expected to result in a loss of 600 jobs. Last week, the firm put its 21,000 workers on standby saying that their jobs were at risk because the company was close to collapse.

Meanwhile, Pret A Manger said it is closing six stores and cutting 400 jobs in reaction to the worsening Covid-19 conditions. Clare Clough, Pret's UK managing director, said: "We must adapt to the new situation we find ourselves in." Pret A Manger blamed "the worsening Covid-19 situation" for its fresh cutbacks. It has already axed almost 3,000 workers two months ago because of the coronavirus crisis.

12pm Is remote working here to stay?

Joe Nicholls explores whether the coronavirus pandemic will lead to a long-term revolution in home working, and the implications for employers

9.35am Face coverings now mandatory in Scottish workplaces 

New rules to extend the mandatory wearing of face coverings in Scotland will see them worn in workplace settings such as canteens, corridors and communal facilities. Coming into force on Monday, the rules, according to first minister Nicola Sturgeon, were needed at a “critical moment” in the pandemic. "The new rules are a proportionate additional step which will help employees keep themselves and their colleagues that bit safer,” said Sturgeon. 

Exemptions are in place for young children and people with certain health conditions.

9.30am Dunelm to return £14m in furlough payments

Homeware retailer Dunelm has said it will return £14.5m in furlough payments after it recorded strong performance in the third quarter of this year. In a trading update, the firm said the homeware market had been “resistant” and that it was outperforming the market. As such, Dunelm said would return all money received through the scheme provided it was not materially affected by the virus over the winter months, and that it would not be claiming any money through the government’s job retention bonus scheme.

Chief executive Nick Wilkinson said: "Recent months have seen homewares become even more relevant, as people spend more time in their homes up and down the country.

"While we remain cautious about the continued uncertainty in the wider market, the resilience and flexibility of our business model leaves us well positioned as we enter our peak trading period."

9.20am HMRC to contact 24,000 freelancers over support grant eligibility 

HMRC is contacting 24,000 freelance workers who applied for state support grants amid the coronavirus crisis, checking to ensure they met the criteria. Those that made claims after they were forced to cease business during the crisis will be told to pay back any funds, as the scheme was designed to save freelancers intending to continue operating throughout the pandemic. 

HMRC said that 100,000 freelancers who have stopped trading were sent information about the scheme, and 30,000 went on to apply for support. According to the Telegraph, HMRC has determined 6,000 were trading at the time they applied and therefore qualified, but as part of its post-payment compliance checks, it is now looking into whether the remainder were eligible. A deadline of 20 November has been given for freelancers who did stop trading before they applied to hand back any money received and avoid further penalties. 

Thursday 15 October

5.20pm London restrictions could put 250,000 jobs at risk, hospitality industry warns

The new local lockdown rules coming into effect across London on Saturday could put 250,000 jobs at risk, UK Hospitality has warned. Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the trade body, told the BBC the new rules would be “absolutely catastrophic” without additional support, and called for affected businesses to be exempt from having to make employer contributions through the job support scheme.

As of Saturday, London, Essex, York and several other areas will be moved to the tier two ‘high’ alert level under the government’s new local lockdown system, meaning bars and restaurants will be allowed to stay open but groups from different households or bubbles will be prohibited from meeting in any inside venues.

Nicholls said these restrictions created a “squeezed middle” of hospitality businesses, facing additional restrictions but denied access to the more generous furlough scheme – which does not require employee contributions but will only be accessible for businesses told to close under the higher tier three restrictions.

1pm Two-thirds of adults now travelling to work, official figures show

Almost two-thirds of adults travelled to work at least once last week, according to official figures, the highest number since data began to be collected in May on how the pandemic has affected the UK economy and society. 

The proportion of adults who travelled to work between 7 and 11 October was 65 per cent, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown. This marked an increase of four percentage points compared to the previous week, and the highest proportion of staff commuting to work since the ONS began collecting data on this in mid May, when only 37 per cent travelled to a workplace.  During this same period, the proportion of people working from home exclusively increased slightly from 22 per cent to 23 per cent, however.

9.50am Liverpool establishes local furlough scheme 

In reaction to Tier 3 restrictions implemented today, Liverpool City mayor Steve Rotheram has announced that the area is setting up its own local furlough scheme to supplement “inadequate” coronavirus wage subsidies from the Treasury. Rotheram said details of a “top up” local furlough scheme would be released tomorrow in a bid to help hospitality venues such as bars and restaurants, forced to close under tougher restrictions. 

Speaking during a press conference, Rotherham said the scheme would improve on the furlough scheme announced earlier this month which pays two-thirds of wages. "We're going to have a local furlough and business support scheme that will do what the government has failed to do,” he said. 

8.40am Marstons to cut up to 2,150 jobs

Pub and brewery chain Marstons has said up to 2,150 jobs could be cut following the introduction of new restrictions to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The group had returned 10,000 of its employees to work since the initial lockdown measures were lifted, however it said the new measures – including tighter restrictions on pubs and restaurants in Liverpool – has put roles at risk.

Marstons said the introduction of the new restrictions was "hugely disappointing" and that there was a "lack of clear evidence tying pubs to the recent increase in infection rates". The group has 18 pubs in the Liverpool region, the majority of which serve food so therefore can remain open. 

7.35am Institute of Fundraising says quarter of staff are at risk of redundancy

The Institute of Fundraising (IoF), the professional membership body for UK fundraising, has said a quarter of its staff are at risk of redundancy as the organisation undergoes a restructure to manage the effects of the pandemic. The IoF said 13 of its 53 staff were at risk of being made redundant as part of a consultation that will run until the end of the month. 

Chief executive Peter Lewis said the job cuts were a decision "that we hoped we would not have to make", but the IoF had "no choice but to take this action now due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on our organisation".

Wednesday 14 October 

5pm Jobs crisis will not be as bad as feared, says OECD

The UK jobs crisis caused as the result of the coronavirus crisis will not be as bad as originally, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has said in its latest forecast. The OECD said that due to the government’s intervention, unemployment would average 5.3 per cent this year, down from an earlier  forecast of 10.4 per cent, The Times reported. “Without the job retention scheme we would see a much bigger rise in unemployment. The schemes were extremely effective and critical. It is remarkable the way it has kept unemployment down,” it said.

The organisation still warned that unemployment would rise as the job retention scheme comes to a close, predicting it would peak at 7.7 per cent before the end of the year. However, this was also downgraded from 11.7 per cent in an earlier forecast.

12.45pm Misconduct in the time of Covid-19

Following breaches of coronavirus regulations by some well-known figures, Paul Reeves, Leanne Raven and Louisa Blundell explain what employers need to know about the new self-isolation rules.

12.30pm Flexible working more popular with male employees since lockdown, survey finds

Flexible working has become more popular with male employees since the beginning of lockdown, according to a study of employers. In the poll of 26 UK employers, conducted by Working Families in September, two-thirds (68 per cent) reported male parents and carers had shown more interest in flexible working since the pandemic hit.

The survey also showed a general leap forward in flexible working during the pandemic compared to pre-Covid. While just under half (49 per cent) of organisations said that at least half of their staff flexed their hours before the crisis, this jumped to 85 per cent during the coronavirus crisis. Additionally, before the pandemic only a quarter (25 per cent) of employers said half their staff worked partly remotely, but this increased to 84 per cent during lockdown. 

11.15am Why the recruiter-candidate relationship is vital to inclusive hiring

Retaining the human touch and acknowledging this is a stressful time to be job hunting will sustain competitive advantage through improved employer branding, says Corine Sheratte.

11am Northern Ireland to shut restaurants and suspend schools

Northern Ireland will close its restaurants and pubs for a month from Friday (16 October) and shut schools for a fortnight from next week under a new ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown, first minister Arlene Foster announced today. Foster said the imposition of the strict restrictions were in response to a sharp spike in Covid-19 cases. Some 863 cases were reported in Northern Ireland yesterday – bringing the total to 21,898 – along with seven deaths.

In a joint letter with deputy first minister Michelle O'Neill to regional lawmakers, Foster said: "The numbers have continued to rise, the doubling rate is of grave concern, and hospitalisations are on the increase. This is deeply troubling and more steps are now urgently needed."

The new restrictions will affect the entire hospitality sector, with the exception of takeaway and delivery services, and double the length of the annual October school break from one week to two. Under the measures, retail will remain open, but ‘close-contact services’ will be closed. People will be advised to avoid all unnecessary travel and work from home, while universities will be asked to teach remotely to the maximum extent.

10.15am NCVO restructure puts more than 40 per cent of staff at risk

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) – an umbrella body for voluntary organisations, charities, community groups and social enterprises across England – has said more than 40 per cent of its staff are at risk of being made redundant as the organisation restructures in response to coronavirus. The firm announced that 48 of its 107 staff were at risk in a bid to cut costs as it faces an estimated £4m drop in funding over the next three financial years. 

The charity said it expects to reduce headcount to 85, and that it planned to reduce the size of its leadership team from three directors to two while cutting its wider management team from 17 to nine. The NCVO said social distancing measures introduced because of the coronavirus pandemic would affect its venue hire, training and consultancy services. 

9.30am One week remaining to disclose incorrect furlough claims 

Companies have one week to disclose incorrect claims made on the furlough scheme or risk being investigated by HMRC. Following concerns about abuse of the coronavirus job retention scheme, the tax authority gave organisations a 90-day amnesty window in July to come forward with errors. For payments received before 22 July, the amnesty period concludes next Tuesday. The same applies to incorrect payments made under the self-employment income support scheme for people who work for themselves.

Richard Morley, partner in tax dispute resolution at BDO, the accounting group, told The Times: “Given that HMRC has clearly started to actively follow up on tip-offs and potentially incorrect claims, including recent arrests, businesses and individuals should start reviewing their furlough claims now.

Tuesday 13 October 

12.30pm Unemployment surges to highest level in three years, ONS data shows

The UK unemployment rate has surged to its highest level in more than three years, official figures show, as the coronavirus crisis continues to hit jobs. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have shown the unemployment rate for all people in the UK was 4.5 per cent for June to August – 0.4 percentage points higher than the previous quarter, and 0.6 percentage points higher than a year earlier. The ONS estimated 1.52 million people were unemployed, 209,000 more than during June to August 2019.

Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser for the CIPD,  called for “much more immediate” public investment for training and reskilling above what had been announced so far. He added that young men were “fading particularly fast in the face of the pandemic”.

The ONS estimated the unemployment rate for men was 4.9 per cent, 0.7 percentage points higher than the previous quarter. In comparison, the unemployment rate for women was 4 per cent, only 0.1 percentage points higher than the previous quarter. Among men aged 18 to 24, one in six (15.7 per cent) were unemployed, compared to just 10.2 per cent of women of the same age. 

12pm Can employers make contact tracing apps compulsory?

With the government encouraging people to download its test and trace app, Fiona Herrell explains whether firms can insist their staff use it.

10.30am How managers can successfully lead remote teams

With working from home here to stay for the foreseeable future, Jeya Thiruchelvam offers tips on how to be a good leader.

9.50am Financial firms must monitor staff working from home, says FCA 

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned financial service firms that staff working from home should be monitored to the same standard as they would in the office. Financial service workers typically work in strictly controlled offices where monitoring, such as recording phone lines and logging computer use, is the norm to prevent market abuse. 

Speaking at a virtual City & Financial Global event yesterday, Julia Hoggett, director of market oversight at the FCA, said: "Our expectation is that, going forward, office and working from home arrangements should be equivalent – this is not a market for information that we wish to see be arbitraged.” She added that the FCA will expect firms to have already “updated their policies, refreshed their training and put in place rigorous oversight reflecting the new environment – particularly regarding the risk of use of privately owned devices”.

7.40am Mitchells & Butlers consulting on job cuts

Pub and restaurants group Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) has begun redundancy consultations with a number of staff as it struggles with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. M&B, which owns Harvester and All Bar One, employs 44,000 workers across 1,700 pubs and restaurants. The group would not disclose how many jobs are at risk. 

A spokesperson for M&B said the move to start a redundancy consultation was a "difficult and regrettable decision", and the group would "seek to redeploy affected staff wherever possible". The spokesperson added: "While we have worked incredibly hard to make sites Covid-19 secure and keep staff and customers safe, we are facing significant difficulties from the recently introduced 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants, new enforced closures and tapering government support that doesn't go far enough."

Monday 12 October

4.30pm Prime minister confirms three tiers of local lockdown measures

Boris Johnson has confirmed the introduction of a tiered local lockdown system for England. As expected, the country will be broken down into three alert levels, starting with medium and increasing to very high.

Under the medium alert level – the lowest category that most areas of England will find themselves in – the current national lockdown rules will apply, including the ‘rule of six’ and a 10pm curfew on pubs and bars. In areas placed under a high alert level – most areas that already have local restrictions – there will be a ban on different households or support bubbles mixing in indoor spaces. However, the rule of six will still apply outdoors in both public spaces and private gardens.

The most severe alert level will be ‘very high’. Areas falling into this category will see, as a baseline, a ban on households mixing indoors or in private gardens and the closure of pubs and bars. In addition, the government has said it will work with local leaders in ‘very high’ alert areas to tailor additional measures, potentially including restrictions on the hospitality, leisure, entertainment and personal care sectors. However, Johnson said the retail sector, schools and universities would remain open. Financial support – including through the furlough scheme – will be available to businesses told to close

An agreement has already been reached with local political leaders in Merseyside, which will move to a very high alert level from Wednesday. As well as the baseline closures, the area will close its gyms, leisure centres, betting shops and casinos. The prime minister said he was in talks with other local leaders in the North West, North East and Yorkshire and Humber about introducing very high alert levels.

1.20pm Many firms will ‘fall between the gaps’ of furlough extension, say experts

Many employers could “fall between the gaps” of the extended furlough scheme, experts have warned, as businesses wait to hear how they could be affected by a new tiered lockdown system, to be announced this afternoon. On Friday (9 October), chancellor Rishi Sunak outlined an extension to the job retention scheme to support UK employers that could be forced to shut their doors over the winter because of coronavirus restrictions.

Under the scheme, the government will pay two-thirds (67 per cent) of employees’ wages – up to a maximum of £2,100 per employee per month – for businesses that are legally required to close. Unlike the current scheme, employers will not be required to contribute any wages. However, they will have to pay national insurance and pension contributions where applicable.

The scheme begins on 1 November and will be open for six months. But payments will be made in arrears and businesses will have to wait until early December to claim. The new scheme was welcomed by Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD. But, he warned, many companies requiring support over the winter months might still miss out. 

12.35pm Responding to claims out of time because of the pandemic

With Covid causing problems and delays, Katie Maguire explains what employers can do if they miss the 28-day tribunal response deadline.

11.20am BA CEO steps down amid Covid job cuts row

Álex Cruz has stepped down as chief executive of British Airways (BA) after heavy criticism of the handling of 12,000 coronavirus-fuelled job cuts at the airline. Cruz will be replaced by Sean Doyle, chief executive of Aer Lingus. Doyle will also take over Cruz’s role as non-executive chairman of BA after a transition period. Last month Cruz was forced to defend BA’s job cuts strategy, described as ‘fire and rehire’ by unions, which said it was a plan to push the 30,000 employees who still had jobs on to downgraded terms and conditions. Speaking to a committee of MPs, which called British Airways a “national disgrace”, Cruz said the airline was in a “fight for survival” and that he regretted “that way too many loyal and hardworking colleagues are having to leave the business”.

10am Unions urge government to recognise Amazon workers’ key role during Covid by improving conditions

The UK government should use its influence over Amazon through state contracts – particularly those awarded during Covid – to compel the company to improve conditions for workers, trade unions have said. The TUC issued a report criticising Amazon’s employment practices today, the eve of Prime Day – an annual event when the online retailer offers deals but that unions have said puts unreasonable pressure on staff. In a joint statement with the GMB union, the TUC called on the government to improve workers’ conditions through an upcoming employment bill, but also as a client with £630m-worth of contracts since 2015. Included within this figure, Amazon has won £23m in state-funded work since the pandemic started, including £8.3m related to the NHS test and trace app. 

“Amazon workers have played a key role during this pandemic. But many are treated like disposable labour. That is not right,” said the TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady. “Public contracts should not reward bad working practices.”

9.40am Coronavirus accelerating the rise of automation, report warns

The coronavirus outbreak could accelerate the use of automation and robots as the public become more wary of human contact, a report from the Royal Society of Arts has said, adding to the potential job losses caused by the virus. The paper cautioned that the need to implement social distancing measures and the growing risk that staff could be required to take time off work because they are sick or to social isolate potentially increased the cost of human labour when compared to automated alternatives. “For business leaders, a reliance on human labour might now look like a systemic, business risk,” it said.

Friday 9 October

2.40pm Thousands of jobs at risk as Edinburgh Woollen Mill appoints administrators 

Around 24,000 jobs are at risk as Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group (EWM), owner of clothing brands Peacocks and Jaeger, plans to appoint administrators in an attempt to save the business. 

EMW said it had filed a notice to appoint administrators from FRP because of “harsh trading conditions” caused by the pandemic. A spokesperson for FRP said: "Our team is working with the directors of a number of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group subsidiaries to explore all options for the future of its retail brands, including Edinburgh Woollen Mill, Jaeger, Ponden Mill and Peacocks." It has confirmed that the plans will not impact Bonmarché.

12.40pm What is the new local furlough scheme and how will it work?

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce a limited extension of the furlough scheme today (9 October), through which the government will offer financial support for businesses that have been forced to close to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Sunak will outline new support for people and businesses in areas expected to face new restrictions next week, which will include the closure of pubs, bars and restaurants, as part of a three-tiered lockdown system to stop hospitals being overwhelmed by a surge in Covid-19 cases.

People Management explains what we know so far.

12.30pm Why staff being laid off should be signposted to fostering

With many firms currently making job cuts, Helen Gardner explains why the option of becoming a foster carer should be highlighted and offers tips on how HR professionals can broach the idea.

11.45am The pros and cons of the job support scheme

Annabel Mackay examines the government’s new attempt to preserve jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

10.20am GSK tells employees to turn off NHS track and trace app at work

Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has told its UK employees to turn off the Bluetooth-enabled tracking feature of the official NHS coronavirus app when at work, the BBC has reported. The firm told its employees that it had strict protective measures at all its sites, but that some were “distinct from the everyday situations in which most people will use the NHS Covid-19 app”. It said employees could choose to use the app as normal outside of work.

Another firm, Hull-based Rix Petroleum, has also told employees to disable the Bluetooth tracking feature at work over concerns that the feature, which logs a contact if individuals have been closer than two metres for more than 15 minutes, would cause an unnecessary number of employees to self-isolate. The company’s managing director told the BBC: “Large numbers of people who are not sick will be made to stay off – or it will be suggested that they should stay off – for 14 days.”

10am Half of Brits are worried about furlough ending, survey finds

Almost half (49 per cent) of people in the UK are worried about the furlough scheme coming to an end, with a similar number (54 per cent) concerned that they or someone else in their household will lose their job when the scheme closes at the end of the month, a poll by My Online Therapy has found.

The survey of 1,000 of its customers also found 71 per cent respondents admitted they were worried about having enough money to pay their rent, mortgage and bills as a result of the outbreak, including a quarter (25 per cent) who were extremely worried, while two-thirds (67 per cent) said they were worried about having enough money to buy basic essentials such as food and clothing.

8am National Trust to cut 1,300 jobs

The National Trust is to axe almost 1,300 jobs as it seeks to save £100m a year after its income has been heavily impacted by the ongoing coronavirus crisis. The move follows a consultation launched in July when the organisation had said only 1,200 roles were at risk of redundancy. The conservation charity said the consultation process had enabled it to cut the number of compulsory redundancies to 514. The charity had also accepted 782 voluntary redundancies.

Hilary McGrady, director general of the National Trust, said: "No leader wants to be forced into announcing any redundancies, but coronavirus means we simply have no other choice if we want to give the charity a sustainable future. We have exhausted every other avenue to find savings, but sadly we now have to come to terms with the fact that we will lose some colleagues."

Thursday 8 October

5pm School travel company PGL to cut 670 jobs 

PGL, a travel company that hosts children at residential activity centres across the UK, has announced plans to cut its workforce by a quarter amid cancellations caused by the pandemic. Roles at several of its sites, including its offices in Blackpool and Hertfordshire, will be made redundant, as well as some at its Ross-on-Wye headquarters. 

In a statement, the company confirmed the pandemic had had a “significant impact” on the business which resulted in 34 colleagues at its head office being made redundant, equating to 16 per cent of its Ross-based workforce. 

1.30pm Is it worth applying to the job support scheme?

Eligible employers using the government’s new job support scheme to put workers on reduced hours will be required to contribute a third of their lost pay – with the government topping those wages up another third, to a cap of £697.92 a month.

The Treasury has argued that the scheme provides businesses with valuable flexibility, allowing them to change working patterns week by week to meet demand. There is also tangible value in retaining their skilled and experienced employees and preventing costly staff turnover, it has argued. But this flexibility comes at a cost to employers. So what are the benefits of using the scheme, and when should companies consider it over redundancies? And crucially, why not just save money by reducing workers’ hours without topping up their wages through the scheme? People Management spoke to experts to get their take...

1.20pm Is a new bill of rights for remote workers in the offing?

A number of European countries have brought in new laws around home working in recent months. Spain has drafted legislation to ensure remote workers have equal working conditions and career development opportunities, while last week Germany proposed a Mobile Work Act, giving employees a legal right to work from home wherever possible. The Republic of Ireland is also updating its guidance for people working remotely, and France has had laws regulating home working hours since 2017.

The UK has yet to follow suit, however, in bringing forward bespoke legislation to protect home workers. But some argue the current situation makes this more urgent and more likely. People Management asked legal experts for their views on a bill of rights for remote workers, and how likely this is to be brought in at some point…

11.30am Why your business may need a director of remote work

Some companies have already created such a position, reports John Blakey, with leaders needing to make a firm ideological choice on dynamic working over the coming months. 

11am Almost 900 Manchester Airports Group jobs at risk 

Following its “toughest summer ever” Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has announced almost 900 jobs are at risk across three UK airports, including 465 roles at Manchester Airport, 376 at London Stansted Airport and 51 at East Midlands Airport.

The group has already asked employees to take a 10 per cent pay cut for a year, paused investment and reduced its management team, but MAG said the "absence of support for the aviation sector, coupled with a lack of progress in introducing testing for UK passengers, has continued to undermine consumer confidence in air travel”.

Charlie Cornish, chief executive of MAG, said: "The end of the job retention scheme means we have to consider the number of roles that we can sustain at our airports."

Lawrence Chapple-Gill, from Unite, said the job losses were an "inevitable consequence of the government's failure to provide sector-specific support to the aviation industry, the sector most heavily affected by the Covid-19 pandemic".

10am Frasers ‘confident’ it did not break furlough rules

Retail group Frasers has insisted its Sports Direct unit did not break furlough rules during its annual general meeting (AGM), following claims staff were encouraged to work while on the coronavirus job retention scheme. Sports Direct was previously accused of asking furloughed shop managers to move stock from stores to depots during the pandemic to cope with a surge of online orders. 

Before the firm’s AGM, shareholder advisory firm Pirc advised investors to vote against the group’s boss, Mike Ashley, as the furlough issue was "representative of a corporate culture that does not meet best practice standards with regard to the treatment of employees". According to reports from the Express & Star, chief finance officer Chris Wootton told investors he was “very confident” the company had complied with the government’s rules, and has since discussed the matter with HMRC.

9.45am UK hiring activity increases in September as lockdown eased

The UK labour market saw another rise in hiring activity in September, the latest REC and KPMG Report on Jobs has found, with both permanent and temporary placements increasing as the easing of lockdown measures encouraged businesses to take on more staff. The report also found that the overall number of vacancies had increased for the first time since February, although only slightly.

However, the report warned that the number of redundancies stemming from the outbreak had caused a substantial rise in the availability of staff, which could dampen wages for both permanent and temporary hires. James Stewart, vice chair at KPMG, said that while it was encouraging to see a recovery in hiring activity, it was “concerning to see another rapid rise in total candidate availability”.

“With increasing unease over what will happen in the coming months with the pandemic, Brexit and with the end of the furlough scheme in sight, the uncertainty for UK business is not going to dissipate anytime soon,” he said.

Wednesday 7 October

2.50pm Greene King to close dozens of pubs and cut 800 jobs

Pub giant Greene King has said it will close more than 25 venues and cut 800 jobs, blaming tighter coronavirus restrictions and the winding down of the furlough scheme, which had made it a "challenge" to reopen some of its 2,700 UK sites. It urged the government to provide more support for the struggling hospitality sector.

The firm has decided to not reopen 79 sites, and around a third will be closed permanently. A spokeswoman for Greene King said: "The continued tightening of the trading restrictions for pubs, which may last another six months, along with the changes to government support was always going to make it a challenge to reopen some of our pubs."

12.50pm Half of firms would consider hiring someone who worked fully remotely, poll finds

More than half of businesses that experienced remote working during lockdown would consider hiring an employee who worked fully or mostly from home, a survey has found.

The poll of 280 business leaders, conducted by Management Today (MT) and Hays, found 55 per cent would now be more likely to consider hiring an employee who was not within commuting distance to the office and so would work completely or predominantly remotely. This compared to the 45 per cent who said they would not now be more likely to make such a hire.

The survey – conducted as part of the report Will hybrid working ever work? – found most employers were not currently advertising jobs as predominantly remote roles, however. Just a third (33 per cent) of respondents said they were advertising jobs as either partly or fully based at home, compared to 67 per cent who were not.

12pm Royal Shakespeare Company announces 158 job cuts

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has said 158 jobs across its sites are at risk of being made redundant as the organisation struggles to cope with the devastating impact the pandemic has had on the arts – a 17 per cent reduction in its 519-strong workforce.

The Stratford-based company said it has begun a formal consultation with its permanent workforce, trade unions and staff representatives, and that it hoped to keep the number of compulsory job losses to under 90.

Catherine Mallyon, the RSC's executive director, said: "We remain positive that live theatre will be back in our communities, doing what it does best – entertaining audiences and bringing joy to so many people. These are incredibly difficult times for everyone, and for the theatre community they are especially tough."

11.15am Virtual AGMs ‘disenfranchising’ shareholders on key corporate governance matters, body warns  

Companies must respect shareholder rights amid a Covid-fuelled shift to virtual annual general meetings, corporate governance watchdog the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has warned. It said the way some had managed virtual meetings was “disappointing” and had “led to concerns that any move to fully digital meetings could disenfranchise retail shareholders”. A survey of a majority of FTSE 350 companies found 80.7 per cent had held closed AGMs, requiring voting in advance by proxy. Of these, almost 20 per cent did not make arrangements for shareholders to ask questions of the board. 

David Styles, director of corporate governance at the FRC, said: “AGMs are not simply about voting. They are an important mechanism for shareholders to gain an understanding of board decision-making, strategy and company culture. It is disappointing that some companies have not provided for meaningful input from shareholders, in particular retail shareholders.”

10.40am How to stop virtual meetings taking over your day

Back-to-back video calls are fast causing a new kind of mental health crisis, says Helena Sharpstone – but there are ways to keep them under control.

10.20am Women’s legal rights during job cuts

Kirsty Thompson explains what employers need to consider when an employee on maternity leave is at risk of redundancy.

9.30am Airbus boss warns of a minimum 15,000 job losses

The COO of Airbus, Michael Schoellhorn, has said the European aeroplane manufacturer’s plan to cut 15,000 jobs is the “minimum of what we have to do”, Bloomberg has reported. The comments were made in an interview with German magazine Handelsblatt. Airbus is one of many aviation firms to have been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent travel restrictions.

Tuesday 6 October

5.30pm Hospitality sector faces a ‘cliff edge’, industry body warns

The head of UK Hospitality has warned the sector faces a “cliff edge”, with more jobs likely to be cut than previously thought, the BBC has reported. Speaking to the treasury select committee, Kate Nicholls said the sector had been expecting job losses of some 560,000 by the end of 2020. But, because of the impact of local restrictions, renewed advice to work from home and the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants, she now feared there would be far more.

"We fear that unless there are amendments for those areas which are particularly hit, you won't avoid the cliff edge in October and we have got large numbers of redundancies that are forecast in October because of how the jobs support scheme is set up,” she told MPs.

2.50pm Nottingham City Council to cut 154 jobs

Nottingham City Council has agreed to cut 154 jobs in a bid to save the council £12.5m in the wake of the pandemic and previous government cuts to its budget. At a full council meeting yesterday (5 October), councillors voted to make the cuts, which include removing vacant posts and accepting voluntary redundancies where possible.

The council also voted through a series of money-saving measures including delaying the employment of apprentices until April 2021, reducing the ceremonial duties of the lord mayor, closing one adult care day centre, and closing a small number of underused play areas. 

2.40pm ExxonMobil to cut 1,600 jobs in Europe

ExxonMobil has said it will cut up to 1,600 jobs in Europe as the oil company struggles with the dip in demand caused by the pandemic. Exxon employed about 75,000 people worldwide at the end of last year, and the job cuts amount to more than a tenth of the company’s European workforce. 

Exxon has been hit hard as coronavirus sapped demand this year as lockdowns grounded aircraft and kept cars off the roads. The company did not say exactly where the European job losses would take place but said country-specific impacts would “depend on the company’s local business footprint and market conditions”.

12.10pm Exclusive HR team-size data: how does yours compare?

The majority of HR teams are comprised of 10 people or fewer, a survey by People Management has found, with this predicted to remain stable over the next few years despite the Covid crisis.

The exclusive survey polled 735 employers this September and found 70 per cent reported an HR team size of 10 people or fewer. Just under a fifth (18 per cent) said their HR team was between 11 and 50-strong, 6 per cent reported 51 to 100, 3 per cent 101 to 250 and 2 per cent more than 1,000.

In terms of whether L&D and OD were counted as part of this overall figure, 83 per cent of respondents said L&D was, while 79 per cent said the same for OD.

11.50am How has Covid-19 affected working women?

Anne Pritam and Leanne Raven look at the impact of the pandemic on female employees and the legal implications for businesses.

10.20am PwC inducts record number of graduates after rise in virtual recruitment

Professional services network PwC has recruited a record 108 graduates across its three Scottish offices, the firm has said, with Covid-19 restrictions prompting a rise in virtual recruitment. Claire Reid, regional market leader for PwC in Scotland, told Scottish Financial News that the pandemic had radically altered its hiring and induction processes – which was reliant on the delivery of laptops to new starter’s homes and digital induction processes.

“Like all businesses we have had to quickly adapt to a new way of working, and that has extended to welcoming our graduate intake for 2020 – while I’m used to meeting graduates in a packed room, it was quite the experience to address more than 100 people on a video call,” said Reid. “The business has shown great resilience since the onset of Covid-19 and that is reflected by the fact we are able to welcome more than 100 graduates through our virtual doors.”

Across the UK, PwC will virtually welcome more than 1,300 student hires during September and October, and has already onboarded 243 students since lockdown was announced at the end of March.

8.40am Odeon to open weekends only at some cinemas

Odeon is cutting the opening hours of some of its cinemas to weekends only because of delays to new film releases. The chain, which employees 5,500 people across 120 theatres in the UK and Ireland, said the new change will affect a quarter of its cinemas. It declined to comment on whether the reduced opening hours would result in redundancies. 

The news comes as Cineworld announced it will temporarily close its UK and US venues, affecting 45,000 jobs in total. The change came after the release of the new James Bond film was delayed again, a move that Cineworld directly attributed to its closure of cinemas. 

7.40am Nearly 500,000 redundancies planned since crisis began, investigation finds

British employers planned 58,000 redundancies in August, according to an investigation by the BBC, taking the total to 498,000 for the first five months of the Covid crisis. According to figures released to the BBC after a freedom of information request, 966 businesses told the government about plans to cut jobs, compared to 214 in August 2019. 

However, this was still lower than the levels of job cuts seen in June and July, in which 150,000 redundancies were planned in each month. A number of businesses announced redundancy plans in August, including Pret A Manger, Gatwick Airport, Co-op Bank, Marks & Spencer, River Island and YO! Sushi.

Monday 5 October

1.50pm Government launches £238m employment programme in wake of pandemic

The new job entry targeted support scheme (JETS) will help those left jobless for at least three months during the Covid-19 crisis get back into work by giving them access to flexible and tailored support, including CV and interview coaching and specialist advice on moving into sectors of the economy experiencing growth. Speaking to the BBC, work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey said the scheme would be specifically targeted at adults over the age of 25, helping them transfer their skills to growing sectors of the UK economy, including construction and social care. “JETS will give recently unemployed people the helping hand they need to get back into work, boosting the prospects of more than a quarter of a million people across Britain,” Coffey said.

The scheme has already launched in several locations across the UK – including much of Wales – and will become available in more regions in the coming months. 

12.30pm Three-quarters of firms plan to maintain Covid levels of home working, poll finds

A poll of 958 company directors, conducted last month by the Institute of Directors (IoD), found that 74 per cent said they planned to keep the higher levels of remote working introduced because of the pandemic, while 43 per cent said they would maintain other forms of flexible working, including flexitime and compressed hours. More than half (53 per cent) also said their organisation intended to reduce its use of a physical workplace long term, with one fifth (21 per cent) reporting that their use of a place of work would be significantly lower than before the outbreak. By comparison, 30 per cent of respondents said their organisation’s office usage would not change, while just 5 per cent said it would increase.

Roger Barker, director of policy at the IoD, said working from home didn’t work for everyone, and employers needed to be “alive to the downsides”. “Managing teams remotely can prove far from straightforward, and directors must make sure they are going out of their way to support employees’ mental wellbeing,” he said. 

10am Freelancers see pay drop by 30 per cent

The average incomes of freelancers dropped 30 per cent in the first half of this year, research from IPSE has found. The freelancer membership body, which analysed figures used by the Bank of England, found average earnings fell from £22,742 per quarter at the start of the year to just £15,709 at the end of June, The Telegraph reported. Andrew Chamberlain, director of policy at IPSE, called on the government to introduce “a more focused support package [of financial support] that includes individuals such as the newly self-employed and company directors who did not benefit from the first round of help”.

7.30am Cineworld confirms thousands of jobs at risk with closure

Britain's biggest cinema chain, Cineworld, is set to close all its sites temporarily, putting thousands of jobs at risk. Cineworld, which has 128 theatres in the UK and Ireland, made the decision to temporarily close all its screens after the new James Bond film was delayed until 2021. Now, the firm says it has written to Boris Johnson and Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, to say that the theatre industry has become “unviable” because of the decision by film studios to postpone big-budget releases.

Because of these delays, the company said it will shut theatres in the UK from this Thursday (8 October). The move puts up to 5,500 jobs at risk. According to The Sunday Times, the majority of Cineworld’s staff will be asked to accept redundancy, with possible incentives to rejoin the company when theatres reopen – likely to be next year.

Friday 2 October 

3pm Sheffield Forgemasters plants to cut 95 jobs

Steel company Sheffield Forgemasters has revealed plans to cut 95 jobs because of the impact of coronavirus on global markets. The company said cuts to its workforce of 708 were an "unavoidable necessity" and a result of reduced demand in the current economic climate. 

Chief executive David Bond said: "The decision to make redundancies has been extremely difficult for us, but staff cuts have become an unavoidable necessity in order to protect the majority of jobs at Sheffield Forgemasters,” but added that "many highly skilled positions" would be protected and the apprentice training programme would continue. However, the redundancies are expected to affect staff across all areas of the business. 

1.30pm Tribunal claims surged during lockdown, official figures show

The latest statistics from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) reveal the number of single claims – where claims are made by an individual claimant – made between April and June this year was 10,318, an 18 per cent rise compared to the same three months of 2019, when this figure stood at 8,772.

This was accompanied by a drop in claims being disposed of – where the court issues a summary judgment without a full hearing. These fell to 4,496, down 21 per cent compared to 5,695 the previous year. In its quarterly report on tribunal statistics, the MoJ attributed the increase in claims to rising levels of unemployment because of “the impact of Covid-19 on the economy”, and said this was “the highest level of single employment tribunal claims since 2012/13”.

12.45pm Everything you need to know about bringing staff back from furlough

In March, the UK government announced a series of wide-ranging measures to help businesses and employees struggling to cope with the pandemic, including the coronavirus job retention scheme, which has subsidised the wages of some 9.6 million jobs at a cost of £39.3bn.  The furlough scheme is fast drawing to its close on 31 October and will be replaced next month by a new job support scheme, which will top up the wages of workers on reduced hours. Crucially, the scheme focuses on bringing employees back into what chancellor Rishi Sunak described as “viable jobs”, and only employees working at least a third of their hours will be eligible for support.

As such, many businesses are currently evaluating how to effectively transition furloughed staff back to work. People Management asked HR and employment law specialists what employers need to consider as they bring people back over the coming weeks. 

12.30pm Why trust is key to leading in challenging times

HR practitioners must help leaders to give their teams autonomy, create cultures of appreciation and ask searching questions, says Claire Gearon

12.20pm London transport 'will shut without second bailout'

The transport system in England’s capital will shut down in a "doomsday scenario" without a second bailout, Transport for London (TfL) has warned. In May, the government agreed to a £1.6bn bailout for TfL to keep services running after the firm reported a 90 per cent drop in income during the pandemic. But the deal is due to expire in two weeks.

Andy Byford, commissioner for TfL, said the network's finances were "right on the wire", warning that TfL needed £3bn to stay afloat through 2021. Byford said he was "almost begging" ministers to send their offer so negotiations could start. He warned, if a new deal was not reached, TfL would be forced to stop services. As a result, he said: "London will grind to a halt – it's as simple as that."

10am Concern over job losses as one in ten workers still on furlough, official figures show

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has warned that 20 per cent of the 8.9 million people who were furloughed could end up losing their jobs, the Times has reported. The government spending watchdog forecast that unemployment could reach 4 million by the end of 2020, peaking at 13 per cent, or 4.5 million.

The figures come as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) yesterday found 11 per cent of the workforce were still on the job retention scheme in the two weeks between 2 September and 20 September. While the figure has decreased substantially from 36 per cent in April, millions of workers continue to rely on support that is due to end this month.

Thursday 1 October

2pm Nearly 100 leisure jobs at risk as Covid restrictions impact trade

Nearly 100 staff running the Newport Live leisure centre have been told they could be at risk of redundancy as trade has been "significantly impacted" by Covid-19. Steve Ward, chief executive of Newport Live, said local lockdowns had stopped people from visiting the centre's various facilities. As such, he said the restrictions had resulted in a reduction in customers and loss of bookings, which have brought about “a considerable loss of income”.

He said 97 employees had been informed that they were at risk of redundancy, and a consolidation would be underway during October. He added: "We are encouraging local people to return to safe sport and physical activity with us, which in turn will help to retain services and roles for our colleagues."

1.10pm Quarter of firms unaware of redundancy consultation legalities, research finds

More than a third of employers (37 per cent) are likely to shed jobs by the end of the year, with many admitting to being unaware of their legal responsibilities around consulting staff, according to Acas. Its survey, which polled more than 2,000 business representatives and was conducted by YouGov last month, revealed large companies were more likely to be looking to cut jobs, with 60 per cent of firms with more than 250 employees anticipating redundancies.

It found a quarter (24 per cent) of companies admitted they were not aware of their legal responsibilities around consulting staff before making redundancies, rising to a third (33 per cent) of small businesses. Of those planning to make redundancies, more than a quarter (27 per cent) said they would be telling staff via video calls or over the phone. Only a third (33 per cent) intended to tell people in person.

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said the figures were “sad but perhaps not surprising”, as many businesses had been struggling over the past few months. But, he warned: “It is essential they know the law before making any decisions.” Redundancies should be a last resort and employers “must use a fair and balanced selection process and conduct consultation proceedings with those employees with as much warning as possible”, he said.

12.30pm More than half of employees still going in to work, ONS data shows

More than half of UK workers are still travelling to a workplace, despite the recent change in government advice. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that, despite the intervention from the prime minister Boris Johnson last week (on 22 September) calling on workers to return to conducting their roles from home where possible, there was only a small drop in the proportion of people travelling to work.

Between 25 and 27 September, 59 per cent of people surveyed reported travelling to work at some point during that week – a slight drop from 64 per cent the previous week. The figures did show a slight uptick in the proportion of people working exclusively from home, increasing to 24 per cent from 21 per cent the previous week.

Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, urged employers considering whether to keep offices open to balance the needs of those staff struggling to work from home with the importance of respecting the latest health and safety guidance.

12.20pm H&M to close 250 shops worldwide

H&M has said it plans to cut 250 of its stores globally as the pandemic has moved more shoppers online. The fashion retailer said the closures would be implemented in 2021. H&M has 5,000 stores worldwide, and it is not clear how many closures will be in the UK. 

H&M said it was "too early for us to give any details on this; the numbers will differ from [national] market to market". Though many of its stores had reopened, it said 166 sites worldwide remained closed, and a large number were subject to local restrictions and limited opening hours.

11.15am Burger King preparing to close a number of UK restaurants

Fast-food chain Burger King is planning to permanently close a number of its UK restaurants as part of a restructuring deal triggered by the pandemic. It has hired advisers from AlixPartners to review options for one of its subsidiary companies, which owns approximately 25 of its outlets, according to Sky News.

Sources claimed the company was considering a company voluntary arrangement or a pre-pack administration for the subsidiary. The restructure could see the permanent closure of up to 10 of its restaurants with potential job losses.

8.30am Almost half of UK office staff had returned before new advice

Nearly half (45 per cent) of office employees headed back to work in September, compared with 37 per cent in August and 34 per cent in July, according to data collected by the AlphaWise research unit of Morgan Stanley. However, even at 45 per cent, the UK lagged well behind much of Europe, where 75 per cent of office staff had returned. And the impact of the government’s changed advice on 22 September, that people should once again work from home where they could, was yet to be seen, with the data compiled between 14 and 17 September.

In France, 88 per cent of office workers had returned in September, and in Spain 80 per cent were back, despite a resurgence of the virus in those countries. In Italy, 83 per cent of office staff had returned. Almost a third (32 per cent) of UK office staff were working from home five days a week. More than 70 per cent said they were working at home because their employer had made the decision or their office was closed, rather than it being a personal choice.

Wednesday 30 September

3.45pm A third of UK frontline workers feel underprepared to perform during pandemic, report finds 

A lack of training has left frontline retail workers underprepared to perform during the pandemic, according to a report from Axonify. The research, which involved 2,000 frontline workers, showed that while most (87 per cent) had confidence in their ability to perform in their role effectively under normal circumstances, a third (35 per cent) felt underprepared to perform in the current crisis – rising to 40 per cent among supermarket and grocery store workers. Nearly one in five (19 per cent) said they hadn’t received the proper training on changes affecting their job during the pandemic.

Carol Leaman, chief executive and co-founder of Axonify, said: “Any training provided needs to be carefully considered – the requirements of the retail workforce have evolved, and retail businesses must adapt to ensure their cultures continue to empower their most valuable asset: their frontline staff.”

2.50pm Fuller's pub chain boss warns of job cuts

The boss of pub chain Fuller's has told the BBC he may have to lay off "at least" 10 per cent of his workforce. Simon Emeny, chief executive of Fuller's, told BBC Radio 5 Live that the job losses were "inevitable" because the government's decision to encourage people to work from home would negatively affect the firm's pubs. The warning follows other similar ones from JD Wetherspoon, Premier Inn and Beefeater owner Whitbread, and Greggs.

Fuller's owns around 400 pubs and hotels across the UK, with many located in London. Emeny said: "The biggest challenge we have around job losses is in central London, because the current prime minister's announcement last week to discourage people from going back to the office is having a big impact on city centres and in particular central London." He said he and his management team were still working out how many staff would have to be made redundant, "but it will be at least 10 per cent".

12.40pm Can you test employees working from home for drug and alcohol abuse?

Drug and alcohol misuse in the workplace was an issue before lockdown. Research from the CIPD found that just over a quarter (26 per cent) of employers had disciplined someone for drug abuse in the last two years.

Now, with the added stresses of the pandemic – including furlough, redundancy, working from home and in many cases greater levels of isolation – there is a tinderbox environment for individuals with drug or alcohol problems. More than one in four (26 per cent) of those working from home because of lockdown who usually have a drink were imbibing more than usual, according to research by Drinkaware released in May. This rose to one in three (36 per cent) among those 9.6 million on furlough.

But with no return to the office in sight – given the government’s recent U-turn and new guidance that staff should once again work from home where they can, potentially for the next six months – People Management asks whether you can test for drug and alcohol misuse while employees are working from home, and how to spot the signs of addiction and offer support remotely.

11.50am How to help redundant employees become entrepreneurs

Many firms offer advice on CV writing and interview technique, but they should also support laid-off staff to found start-ups, says Chris Locke.

11.10am TSB to close a third of branches and axe 900 jobs

TSB will close 164 branches and cut 900 jobs, blaming "a significant shift in customer behaviour" as more customers bank online. The bank said the closures were in addition to the 82 branches it would close in November. TSB said it hoped most of the job cuts would come through voluntary redundancies, and said it would also create 120 new positions.

It did not name the branches that would shut, but said those with the lowest footfall would go. Debbie Crosbie, chief executive of TSB, said the closure plan and job cuts were not an easy decision. Crosbie said: "Our customers are banking differently – with a marked shift to digital banking. This means having the right balance between branches on the high street and our digital platforms, enabling us to offer the very best experience for our personal and business customers across the UK."

10.15am Google to lease extra 70,000 sq ft in UK offices despite remote working

Google is to lease an additional 70,000 sq ft in office buildings close to its £1bn new UK headquarters in King’s Cross, London, despite telling all of its 4,500 UK staff that they will be working from home until at least July 2021. Google’s request for more space comes despite many big companies attempting to shrink the size of their offices because of the coronavirus pandemic, and despite experts predicting many people will not return to spending five days a week in the workplace even when the crisis is over.

Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, last week said the company would focus on a “hybrid” model that would include both office and remote working. “We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having that sense of community, is super important for whenever you have to solve hard problems – you have to create something new,” he told Time magazine. “We don’t see that changing. So we don’t think the future is 100 per cent remote, we definitely value our offices, we value the culture, but we do think we need to create more flexibility, a more hybrid model.”

7.50am Shell to cut up to 9,000 jobs

Shell has said it plans to cut 7,000 to 9,000 jobs worldwide following a collapse in global oil demand because of the coronavirus pandemic. Shell said the cuts would be implemented by 2022 and include 1,500 voluntary redundancies. It gave no indication of where the job losses would happen. 

The oil giant employs 83,000 people worldwide and has around 6,000 workers in the UK. Ben van Beurden, chief executive of Shell, said: "We have had to act quickly and decisively and make some very tough financial decisions to ensure we remained resilient, including cutting the dividend. But as hard as they were, they were entirely the appropriate choices to make. And Covid-19 has hit us in another way. We have, very sadly, lost six employees and six contractor colleagues to the virus."

Tuesday 29 September

1.20pm Adults in England without A-levels to be offered free college training

Prime minister Boris Johnson is to set out plans today as part of his ‘lifetime skills guarantee’ – a previously announced scheme to transform England’s current training and skills system to support the country to rebuild after the pandemic. In his announcement today, Johnson will say the government “cannot, alas, save every job”, but that it can “give people the skills to find and create new and better jobs”. As part of the package of new measures, people who do not have A-levels or an equivalent qualification will be able to study a college course in England from April 2021 paid for via a £2.5bn national skills fund. Currently, the government pays for a first A-level equivalent qualification up to the age of 23, but this is being extended to all ages for courses deemed to be of value to employers.

Kirstie Donnelly, chief executive of City & Guilds Group, said the government’s new measures were too narrow in scope to tackle the expected wave of unemployment and redundancies, and did not address the “vast skills and jobs challenges that lie ahead”.

“How is the provision going to be flexible enough for people to fit learning around their lives and responsibilities – whether that’s childcare, caring for a relative or a part-time job?” Donnelly said, noting that any training offered needed the option of digital learning. 

Further details of which courses will meet this criteria are due to be set out next month.

12.15pm Supporting brain injured employees in the workplace

Sally Simpson looks at how firms can best help staff who return to work after sustaining a brain injury – particularly during the Covid pandemic

10.50am Greggs hints at job cuts when furlough scheme ends 

Bakery chain Greggs, which employs 25,000 workers, has hinted it might be forced to make job cuts if business remains subdued. The firm has said it expects business activity to “remain below normal for the foreseeable future” and, as such, has reviewed staff cuts and is currently consulting with unions and employee representatives.

Greggs said it wanted to minimise the risk of losses by putting workers on reduced hours; however, it is not yet clear if it planned to use the job support scheme to top up pay for those working fewer hours. "With the job retention scheme planned to end in October we are taking steps to ensure that our employment costs reflect the estimated level of demand from November onwards," the business said in a statement.

9.30am Youth unemployment in pandemic ‘could be worse than financial crisis’ 

The rate of unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds rose by two percentage points to 13.4 per cent between May and July, analysis by the Office for National Statistics has found, which is its highest level since the summer of 2016. In comparison, the official unemployment rate across all age groups rose by just 0.3 per cent to 4.1 per cent. It also found the unemployment rate for women in the same age range fell by 2.5 percentage points to 52.9 per cent, but for young men it dropped by 1.2 percentage points to 52.8 per cent. 

According to The Times report, economists and policy makers have raised concerns that youth unemployment will climb by 600,000 to more than a million this year as employers reduce hiring in the economic downturn. Additionally, they predict that youth unemployment will be greater in the pandemic than in the financial crisis a decade ago. 

Monday 28 September

5.20pm The Royal Albert Hall avoids job cuts with flexible lay-off scheme 

The Royal Albert Hall has announced that it avoided mass redundancies through a “flexible lay-off scheme” and has now begun consultation with its 515 staff. Under the scheme, the workforce will be laid off on 55 per cent of their normal pay and then can be called upon if the venue is able to reopen. A spokesperson told the Evening Standard: “Our ability to continue to pay our staff when the job retention scheme ceases is limited as we are still not able to open fully.

“Today we told staff of our plans to implement a flexible lay-off scheme that will avoid the need to make mass redundancies... Given our financial situation, this is a solution that looks after our staff and avoids losing our important workforce.” They added, however, that even with the lay-off scheme “a limited number of roles have been put at risk of redundancy”, but declined to confirm how many jobs were at risk.

5.15pm Employee infections at food factories much higher than reported, body warns

The number of Covid-19 infections at food factories that supply UK supermarkets and restaurants could be more than 30 times higher than reported, according to Pirc, an organisation that advises shareholders on ethical investment. So far, just 47 notifications of Covid-19 workplace infections and no fatalities have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) by food manufacturers. However, Pirc found there have been at least 1,461 infections and six fatalities, with the true figures likely to be higher. Pirc said the discrepancy was partly down to a loophole that allows companies to determine whether employees were infected on the job or elsewhere when they submit reports to the HSE. Alice Martin, labour specialist at Pirc, said the findings showed figures submitted to the HSE by businesses lacked credibility.

1.40pm Employers could face £10,000 fines for asking self-isolating staff to attend work

Employers in England that knowingly allow or force staff to come to work when they should be self-isolating can be fined up to £10,000 from today (28 September). The new rules are part of a set of measures that make it a legal duty for individuals to self-isolate if they test positive for coronavirus or if they are told to self-isolate by the NHS Track and Trace system. It introduces fines for both individuals who fail to self-isolate and businesses that let workers break self-isolation through the course of their work.

The measures were announced last week by health secretary Matt Hancock as part of the government’s response to an increase in Covid cases over the last few weeks. At the time, Hancock said the government would “crack down on employers that [tried] to prevent staff from following the rules”.

1pm Will the new job support scheme really work?

Mark Kaye looks into whether the chancellor’s new initiative to prevent redundancies is likely to have the intended effect.

12.50pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? …Bistrot Pierre

Jane Rawden, HR director for Bistrot Pierre, shares how the restaurant business furloughed more than 95 per cent of staff and had to close six restaurants permanently, but a test and learn strategy has enabled it to reopen safely.

11.30am How to avoid an ‘autumn of angst’ as furloughed staff return

Some might be coming back to work feeling unfairly treated or mismanaged while on the job retention scheme, says Sandra McLellan, who advises mediation and regular check-ins.

10am Aldi to create 4,000 UK jobs

Aldi has announced it will create 4,000 jobs and open 100 new stores as part of a £1.3bn investment drive in the UK. The new jobs are on top of the 3,000 permanent roles the supermarket chain has created this year after sales surged during the pandemic. Aldi said it planned to have 1,200 stores in the UK by 2025. 

It is currently Britain's fifth-largest grocery chain with 894 stores and more than 36,000 staff. Giles Hurley, chief executive of Aldi UK and Ireland, said: “With the UK’s economic outlook increasingly uncertain, families are more concerned about their grocery bills than ever. We’ve seen before that our customers need us most in times of financial hardship, which is why our commitment to remain Britain’s lowest-priced supermarket is more important than ever.”

9.30am More than a million workers could lose jobs, economist warns

More than a million workers could still lose their jobs as the country enters new lockdown measures despite the chancellor's latest package of support measures, economists have warned. Speaking to The Times, Capital Economics has said Rishi Sunak’s package of measures – which include a new job support scheme – “won’t be enough to counter the economic impact of fresh restrictions”, and forecast unemployment would rise by at least 7 per cent. Deutsche Bank also told the paper the new measures “won’t do very much to stem the rise in unemployment”.

8am EasyJet announces 'no compulsory job cuts' after 1,500 flight crew agree to go part time

Airline easyJet has reached a deal with unions that does not involve compulsory job redundancies. In May, the firm warned thousands of staff could face redundancy, with 727 pilots at risk of losing their jobs. The British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) now says a “huge community sacrifice” has enabled compulsory job cuts to be avoided. Balpa said 60 flight crew had taken voluntary redundancy while a further 1,500 had opted for part-time employment. 

But an easyJet spokesperson told The Independent that the negotiations had not been finalised, adding: “We are waiting to receive the last few signed contracts in the next couple of days and remain hopeful that this means that when the process is completed there should be no need for any compulsory redundancies."

Friday 25 September

1.50pm How will the job support scheme actually work?

Many businesses breathed a sigh of relief yesterday when chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the launch of a new job support scheme to replace the job retention scheme that comes to an end next month.

But, reminiscent of the launch of the furlough scheme back in March, this new package has yet to be backed by any detailed guidance, leaving unanswered questions about who exactly is eligible and how the scheme will work. People Management asked legal experts for their views on how the scheme is likely to work, and key areas where clarity is needed.

1.20pm Lockdowns announced for Cardiff and Swansea

Cardiff and Swansea will put in local lockdowns from Sunday (27 September) evening, the Welsh government has announced. Some parts of Llanelli in south Wales will also be under a local lockdown from Saturday evening. The new restrictions will affect around 800,000 people.

11.50am Working from home costs central London £2.3bn, study suggests

Working remotely because of the pandemic has created a £2.3bn spending deficit in central London, according to data from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). The study suggested that spending in businesses near central London workplaces had been "lost or displaced" between March and July, during the height of the lockdown restrictions in the UK. The CEBR found that in April alone the number of people going to work in London was 77 per cent lower than before the pandemic. 

Nina Skero, chief executive of the CEBR, said: "During the months of March to July, virtually everybody that could was working from home, so we estimate that the lost spending during that period was more than £500m per month because all of the spending on restaurants, hairdressers and other services was almost entirely lost as people were confined to their homes." 

8.40am Rising number of Londoners looking for work outside capital, survey finds

Londoners are increasingly looking for jobs outside the capital, according to a survey by job site Indeed, raising the prospect of a wave of “reverse commuters”. Figures from Indeed showed that on 18 September, the number of job posts advertised in London was down by 55 per cent when compared to the year before. Indeed said the decline reflected the impact of closed offices and reduced capacity for new hires in London. 

Indeed said more jobseekers in London were looking for work outside the capital. In August, the number of jobseekers looking for work outside London was up by 27 per cent year-on-year, and up by 30 per cent compared with the start of the year. 

Jack Kennedy, economist for Indeed UK, said the prolonged absence of commuters and tourists from central London was “weighing down” the pace of job creation in the capital. He explained: “Most [Londoners] are looking for work in areas within commuting distance of London. This raises the prospect of a new type of worker: the reverse commuter who lives in London but travels out of the capital for work.”

7.40am Hundreds of thousands of retail jobs 'unviable', Next boss warns

In an interview with the BBC, Lord Wolfson, who runs clothing chain Next, said hundreds of thousands of traditional retail jobs may be considered "unviable" because the pandemic and lockdown has triggered a permanent shift to online shopping. His comments came hours after chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new job support scheme that would see the government top up the pay of people unable to work full time. 

While Lord Wolfson welcomed the chancellor's announcement, he said it was important that businesses eventually learn to live without government support. He said: "I think it's important that employers begin to pay a little bit more for the schemes and that employees get a little bit less – because otherwise I think there's a risk that our economy will just become hooked on it."

Thursday 24 September

5pm Unions urge companies to ‘exhaust all alternatives’ before making redundancies 

In a joint statement, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the TUC and Acas have urged companies to “exhaust all possible alternatives” before making redundancies, and to treat workers fairly should they happen.

Kate Bell, head of rights, international, social and economics department at the TUC told the Financial Times: “We know we are doing absolutely everything we can to prevent [job cuts] but… they are already happening.” Bell said she hoped businesses would avoid the “completely unacceptable” ‘fire and rehire’ practices attempted by firms such as British Gas, adding that employers should be wise to discrimination when selecting workers for redundancy, as performance-based selection criteria could see furloughed or shielding workers facing unequal treatment.

1.30pm Chancellor announces job support scheme to replace furlough

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced a new job support scheme that will focus on “protecting viable jobs” and replace the furlough scheme when it ends in October. Under the new scheme, the government will top up the wages of employees who have been put on reduced hours because of the economic impact of the coronavirus.

Firms will be able to reduce their employees’ working time to as little as a third of their regular hours, and will continue to pay them as normal for hours worked. The employee will then have their wages topped up to cover two-thirds of the pay lost by the reduction in hours, with the government and the employer paying a third of the remaining wages each.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady called the scheme a “lifeline for many firms with a viable future beyond the pandemic.” But, she added: “Unworked hours under the scheme must not be wasted. Ministers must work with business and unions to offer high-quality retraining, so workers are prepared for the future economy.”

1pm No organisation is too big or too small to plan for a crisis

Former Royal Marine Gareth Tennant advises how firms can adapt their strategy post Covid to prepare for and mitigate future risks

12.50 pm Government’s reopening offices U-turn: how six HRDs are responding

On Tuesday (22 September) prime minister Boris Johnson announced that all workers in England able to work from home would once again be asked to do so in light of an increased number of coronavirus cases over the last few weeks, bringing Westminster’s approach back in line with that of Scotland and Wales.

The announcement marked an abrupt U-turn from earlier advice urging office workers to return. In July, Johnson said people should “start to go back to work now if [they] can”, and in the last month the government has encouraged workers to return to offices, saying that many workplaces were now “Covid secure”. People Managementasked six top HR directors how the latest change in advice had affected their back to work strategies.

9.20am Up to 200 workers face redundancy at Ocado call centre

Ocado could make up to 200 workers at its Hatfield call centre redundant as it shifts roles to Sunderland. According to a report by the Guardian, the move is a cost-cutting measure at a time when the online grocer is recording record profits. One call centre worker involved in the redundancy consultation process which started this week told the Guardian that the cuts are "quite brutal" for staff who had responded to a huge surge in orders due to lockdown.

Ocado said that the Hatfield workers would be offered jobs in Sunderland or in other warehouse or support roles in Hatfield. The company said it was making the changes because it thought call centre operations would be more efficient if run from one location. 

8.10am Stobart Aviation Services plans job cuts at Stansted Airport

Baggage handling firm Stobart Aviation Services has said it plans to cut 98 roles – roughly two-thirds of its workforce at the airport – due to the financial upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The firm employs 147 members of ground crew at Stansted, and it said further cuts are also planned at Southend and Manchester airports.

Unite said ground crew's workload at Stansted has reduced significantly since March. Before the pandemic, the firm was helping with 890 flights every week, but it is now only handling 157. 

7.50am 130 jobs at Heriot-Watt University at risk of redundancy

Heriot-Watt University, which has more than 20,000 students enrolled, has announced plans to axe 130 roles, including both academic and support positions. A spokeswoman for Edinburgh-based university said the pandemic had resulted in a “significant impact” on its income. 

She added: "This financial challenge is resulting in the need to make some difficult decisions, and this includes proposals to reduce the number of roles across the university. We are committed to finding these through voluntary means wherever possible, either through potential redundancy or other voluntary options such as a reduction in working hours, career breaks and flexible retirement."

The announcement has been criticised by the University and College Union (UCU) as “an attempt to take advantage of the global pandemic". The UCU has vowed to move forward with a statutory ballot on industrial action in the wake of the decision, including possible strikes.

Wednesday 23 September

5pm Chancellor hints at furlough replacement 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has hinted on Twitter that he will provide an update on “plans to continue protecting jobs through the winter” tomorrow afternoon (24 September), following weeks of calls from businesses to offer a replacement for the furlough scheme, which comes to an end next month. According to BBC reports, Sunak is potentially looking at a salary top-up scheme, similar to those operating in France and Germany. Boris Johnson revealed during prime minister's questions today that the chancellor was working on “creative and imaginative” solutions, but the Treasury has declined to comment.

3pm Hundreds of NEC Group jobs at risk 

The NEC Group company has announced that hundreds of jobs may be at risk because of revenue falling to near-zero amid the pandemic. The Birmingham-based firm, which runs five venues including the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), Resorts World Area and International Convention Centre (ICC), is set to begin consultation with its 2,300 staff. The group said job cuts were necessary "to ensure the longevity of the business", as revenue dropped to almost nothing since mid-March when events were cancelled or postponed until 2021. 

"With the current social distancing measures, the inability to access the £1.57bn culture support package and no sector specific extension to the coronavirus job retention scheme, there is increasing pressure on the group's finances," a spokesman told the BBC. 

The consultation process with employees will begin next month.

2.50pm Asda to create jobs in effort to crack down on shoppers without face masks

Asda is set to create new jobs in an effort to enforce rules on face coverings more strictly across its shops. The supermarket announced it will create 1,000 new "safety marshal" roles across its 639 UK stores to maintain safety as a key priority for customers. Marshals will remind shoppers to wear face coverings in-store and provide customers with sanitised shopping baskets on arrival.

Anthony Hemmerdinger, chief operating officer at Asda, said: "We know that safety remains a key priority for our customers, and we will continue to do all we can to keep them and our colleagues safe in store, as we have since the start of the pandemic." The announcement followed news that Morrisons had reinstated marshals on the doors of its 497 supermarkets to remind those entering to wear a face covering.

1.30pm Should workplaces stay open despite changed advice?

Yesterday’s ministerial U-turn on returning to workplaces has created confusion among employers about whether they are allowed to – and indeed should – keep offices open, experts have warned. In a televised public address, prime minister Boris Johnson announced a reversal of previous advice given in July that workers should “start to go back to work now if [they] can”, with the responsibility for deciding whether it was safe to encourage this, and for making workplaces 'Covid secure', resting with employers themselves.

Instead, Johnson told MPs yesterday (22 September) that although “in key public services – and in all professions where home working is not possible, such as construction or retail – people should continue to attend their workplaces”, the government was now “once again asking office workers who can work from home to do so”. He said the restrictions were likely to be in place for six months.

But the announcement has created confusion among employers, many of whom had launched extensive plans to gradually and safely reopen their workplaces, with experts highlighting important considerations to make before abandoning these and asking staff to once again work from home.

12.40pm Can employers reduce pay for permanent home working?

Coronavirus has changed the way we work – or rather, accelerated changes that were slowly happening pre Covid. There is no longer any doubt in employers’ minds that remote working is not only possible, but comes with a raft of benefits. A recent CIPD report hailed home working as “one of the big success stories of the pandemic”, to the point where some businesses are asking whether their employees need to come back to the office at all.

Indeed, recent headway made returning staff to the office has proved short-lived in light of prime minister Boris Johnson yesterday (22 September) reversing his position and urging English employees to work from home where possible, as part of an attempt to avoid a second wave of the virus. This brought England more closely back in line with Scotland and Wales, with Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon recently promising only a review of reopening offices north of the border on 1 October, and Welsh deputy minister for transport and economy Lee Waters saying the government’s previous call for workers to return to offices where safe was “not one [they would be] repeating in Wales”.  

So, with home working firmly on the agenda for the foreseeable future and saving employees significant commuting costs, can organisations legally and reasonably cut pay for those working from home permanently? And should they?

11am The transformative nature of furlough

The coronavirus pandemic has been incredibly disruptive, but businesses shouldn’t waste the chance to use new skills their workers have learnt, says Riccarda Zezza.

10.30am Upper Crust owner warns of ‘considerable’ job cuts

Upper Crust owner SSP has warned there could be "considerable” job losses as the company attempts to cope with a collapse in sales during the pandemic. The food provider, which also owns Camden Food Co., said it expected sales to be 86 per cent lower year-on-year, roughly equivalent to a revenue drop of £1.3bn. SSP said this loss could be mitigated by a range of cost-cutting measures including job cuts. 

Simon Smith, chief executive of SSP, said: "It is with regret that the prolonged nature of this crisis has resulted in us having to restructure and make considerable job losses in order to protect the business. These are always extremely difficult decisions, and we are supporting our colleagues throughout this process." This announcement comes after the food group said it planned to make 5,000 roles redundant in July, with the majority of cuts impacting the company's UK operations. 

9.15am UK considering German-style furlough replacement

Rishi Sunak is reportedly considering replacing the furlough scheme with a new wage subsidy scheme based on the system currently operating in Germany, as the new lockdown restrictions have again raised the threat of increased unemployment.

The Guardian reported that the chancellor has been consulting with businesses on a number of options for the end of furlough in October, including a “short-work” scheme where the government pays part of the wages of workers on reduced hours. Under Germany's ‘Kurzarbeit’ scheme, if an employee is on reduced hours the government pays 60 per cent of their wages for the time they are not working, while the employer pays them as normal for the time that they are.

The government is also reportedly considering another round of financial support for businesses which could be a mix of extensions to existing coronavirus support loans as well as new financial support packages.

8.20am Macmillan to cut 310 jobs due to funding crisis

Macmillan Cancer Support has announced plans to cut 310 jobs – around a sixth of its total workforce – because the charity said it was likely to lose tens of millions a year in donations over the coming years. The cancer charity had already furloughed approximately 30 per cent of its staff, and it redeployed hundreds of its specialist nurses to assist NHS wards during lockdown.

But Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan, said cost savings were necessary to protect the charity's critical cancer services. She said: "Our people are at the heart of everything we do, but this is the only way we can meet the needs of people living with cancer now and in the future. We are committed to ensuring that this is managed equitably and fairly, and that all impacted colleagues are treated with compassion and care."

7.40am Bank of England boss calls for furlough 'rethink'

The governor of the Bank of England has called on the government to "stop and rethink" the ending of the furlough scheme. Speaking on a webinar hosted by the British Chambers of Commerce yesterday (22 September), Andrew Bailey suggested specific sectors may benefit from further support, and he was open-minded about further intervention. 

In August, Bailey told the BBC that he backed the ending of the furlough scheme, saying workers should be helped to move on rather than stay in unproductive jobs. On Tuesday, Bailey said the furlough scheme "has been successful", and he supported the government's decisions. But he said: "We have moved from a world of generalised employment protections, to specific and focused areas."

7.10am Barclays asks staff to return to working from home

Barclays will tell hundreds of UK staff who had returned to the office to go back to working from home. The bank had said it would carry out a "gradual" return to offices in October, after Jes Staley, chief executive of Barclays, said he wanted employees to come back to workplaces "over time". 

Approximately 1,000 Barclays employees worldwide returned to offices over the past few months. But the bank told the BBC it would ask staff to return to remote working following the latest guidance from the UK government. 

Tuesday 22 September

1pm Prime minister confirms a return to working from home

The prime minister has confirmed that all workers in England who are able to work from home will once again be asked to do so in light of the increased number of coronavirus cases over the last few weeks. Addressing parliament, Boris Johnson outlined a number of additional restrictions, but said this was “no means a return to the full lockdown” introduced in March.

“We are once again asking office workers to work from home where possible,” Johnson said, but added that workers who were unable to work from home – including those in the construction sector – would still be encouraged to go to work so long as their workplace was Covid-secure. He added that there was still no need for vulnerable individuals to continue shielding apart from in areas where there were local lockdowns.

As well as the previously announced curfew on pubs, clubs, restaurants and bars, under the new rules staff in the retail sector will be required to wear masks at work, and both staff and customers in the hospitality sector will be required to wear masks at all times apart from customers when seated.

Johnson said any businesses found breaking the new rules would face fines and possible closure if they persist, and that these new rules could be in place for around six months. Stricter measures could still be implemented if the rate of infections continue to rise.

12.30pm Owner of B&Q and Screwfix to return £23m in furlough payments

Kingfisher, which owns the DIY chains B&Q and Screwfix has said it plans to return £23m in furlough payments after it saw sales and profits increase during the pandemic. The firm saw sales in its UK business increase 3.7 per cent in the six months to the end of July as consumers bought garden furniture and materials for decorating and home improvement during lockdown.

Thierry Garnier, chief executive officer of Kingfisher, said: “The crisis has prompted more people to rediscover their homes and find pleasure in making them better. It is creating new home improvement needs, as people seek new ways to use space or adjust to working from home.”

11.40am Do self-isolating employees qualify for SSP?

Debbie Coyne explains the changes that have been made to statutory sick pay rules to cover workers who need to quarantine.

11am Hundreds of Wetherspoons jobs to be cut as airport sites close

Almost half of the 1,000 JD Wetherspoon workers at sites across six airports will be at risk of being made redundant. In a letter to staff this morning, Wetherspoons said the restructuring plan was announced following a drop in passengers using airports due to the pandemic. 

John Hutson, chief executive of JD Wetherspoon, said the company had written to its employees in its pubs at Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports to inform them that up to 450 positions are at risk of redundancy. He said: “The decision is mainly a result of a downturn in trade in these pubs, linked with the large reduction in passenger numbers using the airports. We should emphasise that no firm decisions have been made at this stage.”

9.15am Employers may have to cover the cost of rapid testing

Employers could be asked to cover the cost of rapid turnaround coronavirus tests when they become available as part of the “cost of doing business”, PA has reported.

Speaking at a webinar hosted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), head of NHS Test and Trace Baroness Dido Harding said it was up to employers if they wanted to foot the bill for self-administered tests that can quickly show if an individual has the virus. While stressing that the technology was not yet ready – and that anyone with symptoms should still be tested by the NHS – Harding said in future these “more rapid turnaround, lower sensitivity and specificity tests” could allow employees to take part in non-socially distanced activities by showing that individuals are not currently infectious.

Harding added: “[Rapid turnaround tests] that might enable more parts of the economy to get back to normal. I think in that environment I think that is actually more of a business and a consumer product rather than a symptomatic healthcare product.”

9am Work from home if you can, says Gove

The public in England will once again be urged to work from home where possible, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has said, showcasing a "reluctant" shift in government advice to combat the spread of coronavirus. In a series of broadcast interviews this morning, Gove asked the public to once again work from home if they are able to, which he said could help "avert the need for more serious action in the future". 

Gove described the latest change in restrictions – which included the return to working from home and curfews placed on restaurants and pubs – as a "shift in emphasis" but unavoidable. He told Sky News: “The rate of infection is increasing, the number of people going to hospital is increasing, and therefore we need to act. It’s important to stress that there are many roles which can’t be performed from home … where we recognise that that’s simply impossible. We need to balance, obviously, the need to ensure that people can continue to work and, critically, continue to go to school against taking steps to try to reduce the virus.”

He was unable to confirm how long the new coronavirus measures are expected to last, but he did point out that "we're going to have a challenging next six months". He also added that plans to bring back 80 per cent of civil servants to work by the end of the month had now been put on hold. 

8.30am Whitbread cuts 6,000 jobs

Hotel and restaurant chain Whitbread is to cut up to 6,000 jobs, shrinking its workforce by 18 per cent. The company, which owns Premier Inn, among other brands, said it had suffered a 77 per cent slump in like-for-like sales in the first half of the financial year. The chain is also cutting an additional 15-20 per cent of jobs at its head office, which would mean another 150 roles being made redundant. 

Alison Brittain, chief executive of Whitbread, said the chain is "having to make some very difficult decisions" with the demand for travel remaining "subdued" because of the pandemic. She added: "In line with our longstanding values of treating our people fairly, our priority is now to ensure that this [redundancy] process is clear and transparent for all colleagues and that everyone impacted is supported throughout."

7.40am Pubs and restaurants in England to have 10pm curfew

All pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England must have a 10pm closing time from Thursday (24 September). The curfew comes as part of a series of expected restrictions the government will put in place as the UK's Covid-19 alert level moved to 4, meaning transmission of the virus is "high or rising exponentially". 

The measures will be set out by prime minister Boris Johnson in the Commons before he addresses the UK in a live broadcast at 8pm tonight (22 September). Johnson is expected to urge people to continue social distancing measures and to urge people to work from home where it does not negatively impact businesses. 

Monday 21 September

4.15pm Businesses take staff testing in-house

A number of employers across the UK are setting up their own in-house testing systems to monitor coronavirus infection rates in their workforce, the Times has reported. Among them are BAE Systems, which has introduced nasal swabbing and temperature scans at its shipyard in Cumbria, where it is building one of the UK’s new nuclear submarines.

The paper reported the defence company had already carried out 35,000 tests on 6,000 workers. Workers are checked on a weekly basis and results are returned by text within a 48 hour time period, and testing had already identified five employees who had Covid-19 but were asymptomatic at the start of this month. 

Similarly, private equity firms Blackstone and Advent International have launched regular workplace testing. Advent provides fortnightly home testing kits and requires employees to have negative results within the past two weeks to be eligible for entry to the office. Blackstone’s London office has free voluntary testing, and all employees must register on an app that they have no symptoms before they return. “Attendance remains voluntary and we’ve put in place stringent testing,” the firm told the paper.

2.50pm Local lockdowns confirmed for four more Welsh counties

Four more counties in south Wales will go into lockdown from 6pm on Tuesday (22 September), resulting in more than a quarter of the Welsh population being under tighter restrictions as the number of coronavirus cases in the countries increases. Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend, Blaenau Gwent and Newport will have the same restrictions as Rhondda Cynon Taf, which went into lockdown last Wednesday. 

As part of the lockdown, residents of these counties will not be able to enter or leave the area except for a limited number of exceptions such as work or education. People will also not be able to meet others not in their own household. Licensed premises like pubs and restaurants will also need to close by 11pm every night.

1.45pm More than £215m of furlough funds repaid by employers

Thousands of UK businesses have repaid more than £215m in furlough scheme payments to the government because they either did not need the money or claimed it in error. 

As of 15 September, £215,756,121 in job retention scheme cash had been voluntarily repaid to HMRC, according to data obtained by the PA news agency through a freedom of information request. The figures revealed 80,433 employers across the UK had returned the funds they were given to subsidise workers’ salaries during the pandemic.

However, the repayments constitute just a small part of the £35.4bn employers claimed under the scheme up to 16 August.

1.40pm Can employers make masks mandatory?

Samantha Randall explains the rules around forcing employees to wear face coverings in the workplace.

12.35pm Shop workers enforcing Covid safety measures facing tide of abuse

Chief executives and industry bodies from the retail sector will call on prime minister Boris Johnson to implement tougher penalties for customers abusing retail staff, citing incidents of workers being coughed on, spat at, verbally abused or assaulted for reminding customers about social distancing measures, the Times has reported

A letter signed by chief executives of 23 supermarkets and high street shops – including Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Aldi, Asda, Boots, Lidl, Nationwide, and WH Smith, among others – will say: “During lockdown, the number of physical assaults on staff in one retailer alone went up by 56 per cent. It is now part of the job to face this daily torrent of abuse and threats.”

The retailers will also back a private members’ bill, supported by Alex Norris, Labour MP for Nottingham North, which will ask that assaulting a retail worker be classified as an aggravated offence and carry a greater sentence.

12.30pm Waterstones cuts head office jobs to 'safeguard future of company'

Waterstones has reportedly cut 16 head office roles as it continues to be affected by the Covid-19 crisis. A further 12 roles at its London head office have also been cut following a consultation launched in late July.

The company said the cuts were a “necessary safeguarding measure for the future of Waterstones”, adding it remains confident that this new structure puts it in a good position to deliver “the best possible Christmas”.

12pm Investec to cut 210 London jobs

Investec has announced plans to cut 210 jobs – roughly 13 per cent of its total UK headcount – in its London office. The wealth management and banking group said the job cuts were part of an ongoing simplification process brought on by the pandemic. 

7.50am Businesses voluntarily return £215m in furlough cash

More than 80,000 UK employers have voluntarily returned funding they were given to help cover worker's salaries. As of 15 September, 80,433 companies and other bodies had returned £215,756,121 in furlough scheme payments they did not need or had taken in error, according to data obtained by the PA news agency. HMRC believes almost £3.5bn in furlough wages could have been paid out in error or fraud. 

Ikea, Redrow, Games Workshop, the Spectator magazine and distribution giant Bunzi have all said they have returned the money they have claimed through the government's furlough scheme. 

7.20am 1,000 Butlin's jobs at risk when furlough ends

Almost 1,000 furloughed workers at holiday camp operator Butlin's could be made redundant when the government's job retention scheme ends next month. According to documents seen by the BBC, Butlin's, which employs more than 6,000 workers in the UK, said no decision had been made yet on whether to cut jobs, but suggested employees take paid holiday if they have any or unpaid leave once the furlough scheme ends. 

Butlin's said: "Since we reopened Butlin's we've worked hard to bring back as many of our team as possible whilst ensuring we're safe and secure. There has been no decision made regarding our team who are still furloughed."

Friday 18 September

2.45pm Government considers tighter measures which could see hospitality businesses shut 

In a bid to temper surging coronavirus cases, the UK government is considering new England-wide measures which could see hospitality businesses closed. Health secretary Matt Hancock told the BBC the government is "prepared to do what it takes" against Covid-19.

The possible measures being discussed include asking some hospitality businesses to close or limiting the opening hours of some pubs and restaurants, as has already happened in some areas. No final decisions have yet been reached but BBC reports speculate that prime minister Boris Johnson is “deeply reluctant” to order another national lockdown. 

1pm Will auto-enrolment be reformed in the wake of Covid?

Amid the financial pressures facing employees as a result of the pandemic, pensions experts are calling for reforms to auto-enrolment to ensure low-paid workers who stop paying into pensions do not lose out on employer contributions. People Management takes a look at the pros and cons of such a move, what this would mean cost-wise for employers (and admin-wise for HR), and how likely change is.

12.10pm The post-Covid company doesn't exist yet, but we can create it together

History shows people often don’t learn from hardships, says Thibaut Bardon, so staff, managers and other stakeholders must all be intentional in embedding change.

12pm Avoiding coronavirus-related discrimination claims

The Covid-19 pandemic has created new situations for discrimination can flourish. Adam Penman examines the potential danger zones employers should be aware of.

9am Next boss voices concerns over home working

Staff have missed the everyday spontaneous conversation of the office and the chance to learn from each other while working at home during lockdown, CEO of Next, Lord Simon Wolfson, has said. He told the Telegraph that Zoom meetings had transformed “meetings from productive exchanges of ideas into boring, one-way lectures, with the 'presenters' rattling through bullet points already visible to their stultified audience", and warned about the damaging and “joyless” effects of the new work environment on businesses.

8.30am Ryanair investors revolt over exec pay in wake of Covid support 

Ryanair has suffered a shareholder rebellion, with more than a third of investor votes going against an executive pay package handing CEO Michael O’Leary a bonus of £416,000. Earlier this week, shareholder advisory group ISS had urged investors to vote against the remuneration report, questioning the bonus when the airline had taken £600m in support from the UK government and furloughed thousands of employees. Despite 34.2 per cent of votes going against this package, it was backed by 65.8 per cent, while 1.9 per cent abstained. Ryanair said that where resolutions received a vote of 20 per cent or more against them, directors would “consult with shareholders in order to understand the reasons behind those proxy votes”.

8am Majority of London office staff thinking of leaving city

More than half (60 per cent) of London office workers have reconsidered their living situations since lockdown restrictions were first implemented, according to research by online lettings agent Mashroom. The research found that seaside towns such as Brighton and Hove were first choice for relocation, with 30 per cent naming this particular city their top choice. Post-Covid priorities included achieving a better work-life balance (35 per cent) and being able to ‘switch off’ at the end of a working day (31 per cent). The study also found 85 per cent of those polled wanted employers to be more accepting of remote working, with 65 per cent enjoying a better work-life balance since March. Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) can currently work from home, with 34 per cent doing so five days a week.

Mashroom CEO Stepan Dobrovolskiy commented: “As employers open up to remote working as the new way of life, millions of renters are reconsidering their living conditions. It’s no surprise so many are craving an escape to the coast or countryside, as London’s bright lights have dimmed over the past six months as restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues have been shut or operating at a limited capacity.” 

Thursday 17 September

5.30pm Women less likely to be hired than men during UK lockdown, data shows 

Women were less likely to be hired than men at the peak of the UK’s coronavirus lockdown, data from LinkedIn has found. It showed April was the lowest point for female recruitment, a month after lockdown was introduced, with female hires falling to 41.5 per cent of all hires, before recovering to 45.2 per cent three months later. But in 2019, women accounted for 45.6 per cent of hires. 

Emily Spaven, UK editor at Linkedin News, told City AM: “Worryingly, women are also much less confident about their job prospects and are more stressed. This raises concerns that women will consider reducing their working hours or taking a step back from the workforce as a result.” Spaven added that employers offering flexible hours and remote working could help support working mothers who may have had to shoulder the brunt of childcare during the crisis. 

4.40pm Two-thirds of adults now commuting to work, official data finds

New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that almost two in three (62 per cent) adults reported commuting to work last week – a figure that has almost doubled since May (36 per cent). 

As the government has been encouraging workers to return to offices, the ONS found while the proportion of people travelling to work has increased from 57 per cent two weeks ago, the number of people working from home stayed at 20 per cent.

The study said that the proportion of working adults “not working from home or travelling to work reduced from 23 per cent to 18 per cent, suggesting more people are returning to work", which corroborates the CIPD’s findings that 37 per cent of employers believe staff will regularly avoid the journey into the office following Covid-19. 

However, the Confederation of British Industry previously warned the BBC that city centres could become "ghost towns" if more staff do not return, and that home working could damage small businesses that rely on office worker trade. 

4pm John Lewis scraps staff bonus in wake of Covid-19

John Lewis has confirmed that staff will not receive a bonus for the first time since 1953. The staff-owned retail group, which includes Waitrose supermarkets, reported a first-half loss of £55m as the costs of the coronavirus pandemic offset a 1 per cent rise in sales. Sharon White, chair of the John Lewis Partnership, said that “outside of exceptional circumstances” the company did not expect to start paying a staff bonus again until its profits exceeded £150m, and that it would pay a bonus of at least 10 per cent if profits rose about £300m. Earlier this year, the company paid its staff – known as partners – a bonus of just 2 per cent of salary, the lowest level in 67 years.

The brand also announced plans to convert entire floors of its flagship London store into offices for rent. It has applied for planning permission to switch up to three floors of its landmark Oxford Street store.

3pm Low-paid workers opting out of pension contributions because of Covid should still get employer contributions, says wealth management firm

Wealth manager Quilter is calling on the government to allow low earners who opt out of auto-enrolment to still receive their employer pension contributions. It predicts that coronavirus will mean many lower-paid workers will opt out of pension schemes and miss out on employer pension contributions, but the government claims it is unable to determine the exact figures. 

Quilter has proposed that reforming auto-enrolment to allow partial opt-ins would enable an individual to forego their personal contribution and any associated tax relief, but continue to benefit from the minimum 3 per cent employer contribution.This would apply to people on a salary up to £17,500, which is broadly equivalent to 60 per cent of 2019 financial year end median earnings. The threshold should be regularly reviewed.

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter told the FT Adviser: “As people come under financial pressure, there is a temptation to opt-out of pension saving. A partial opt-in would offer them a halfway house.”

1.35pm Recruiters’ legal obligations when workers switch occupations

Hiring professionals can take advantage of the rapidly evolving jobs market but must comply with key responsibilities, says Carla Feakin

1.30pm Home working boosts work-life balance, collaboration and focus, report finds

An improved quality of life for employees, along with a boost in productivity, is fuelling an “unprecedented” rise in remote working, according to a study by the CIPD.

Its Embedding new ways of working report, funded by the Department for Energy, Business and Industrial Strategy and based on a YouGov poll of more than 1,000 employers conducted in June, revealed 61 per cent of employers said employees reported an improved work-life balance as a result of home working.

The pandemic had prompted an “unprecedented shift to home working, without which the economic and employment impacts of Covid-19 would have been much more severe”, the report stated.

It described home working as “one of the big success stories of the pandemic” and said working from home on a regular basis was expected to rise to 37 per cent of the workforce – double the 18 per cent doing so before lockdown.

1.20pm Half of workers have received no Covid mental health support, poll finds

More than half (56 per cent) of UK workers haven’t received any mental health advice or support from their employer since the pandemic hit in March, a survey has found. 

The study by mental health organisation TalkOut surveyed 1,500 UK workers in September and found that 85 per cent did not think mental health support had been their employer’s priority during the crisis. 

This was despite the finding that over a third (35 per cent) reported worse mental health now compared to before the pandemic. Additionally, more than two-thirds (68 per cent) felt anxious and apprehensive about returning to work, and half (51 per cent) said they had felt uncertain about the future of their job since March. 

12.10pm Quarter of disabled people fear losing their job because of the coronavirus pandemic, survey finds

Nearly a quarter of disabled people fear they will lose their job as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey by disability charity Scope. The poll explored disabled workers concerns about returning to workplaces and how the pandemic has affected their daily lives. 

41 per cent of the 874 disabled workers surveyed said they were anxious about going back to offices, while half were worried about using public transport to commute to their workplace. Almost nine in 10 (87 per cent) feared the wider public would not respect social distancing rules, putting them at risk.

11.30am Nicola Sturgeon optimistic about furlough scheme extension 

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has suggested that chancellor Rishi Sunak may extend the furlough scheme before it comes to an end in October. Speaking at the Scottish government’s daily coronavirus briefing, Sturgeon said she was “hopeful that we will see some positive developments in that regard”, and said extending the scheme would put the UK in line with countries such as France and Germany. 

She said: “If I was taking the decision and knew that this decision, if I didn’t change it, was going to lead to lots of avoidable redundancies, I wouldn’t take it. I would try to change that.

“The chancellor, I think, is an intelligent person who I’m sure doesn’t want to see that happen either, so that is what leads me to hope that we’ll see some shift in the UK government’s position,” but added that she doesn’t know if the UK government would extend the scheme as she cannot “read Rishi Sunak’s mind”. 

11am Teachers may face half-term coronavirus travel ban

Headteachers are seeking legal advice on whether they can prevent staff travelling abroad during the October half term holiday. Stone King, a legal firm with education sector expertise, said that heads may be within their rights to ban teachers from travelling overseas in case the country they chose to holiday in was unexpectedly added to the list of banned destinations. 

Craig Vincent, head of human resources consultancy at Stone King, told The Times that staff holidaying abroad could “present complications” if they are then asked to quarantine. “We are being asked if schools can request that their staff do not leave the country during half term. As an employer this is not an unreasonable request to make and there is no legal reason that they cannot,” said Vincent. 

“Schools are also asking us whether they can treat post-holiday quarantine periods as unpaid leave. There is no requirement to pay staff for post-holiday quarantining, although schools could explore home working, annual leave, if feasible, for some or all of the time.”

He added: “We are advising schools to inform staff now of the potential consequences of needing to quarantine after a foreign holiday which could include staff having to request unpaid leave.”

9.10am Phone company Three UK to cut 280 head office jobs 

The CK Hutchison Holdings-owned phone company will cut 280 jobs from its head office as it attempts to cut costs in response to Covid and political unrest in Hong Kong. A spokesperson told Bloomberg that the company was aiming to drive alignment between it’s UK and Ireland operations to minimise redundancies by removing contractor roles and not back-filling vacancies. The spokesperson said: “We recognise this is an unsettling time and are fully supporting our staff through it.”

8.40am Historic Royal Palaces proposes 145 redundancies

Up to 145 roles are at risk of redundancy within the various sites run by the Historic Royal Palaces. The charity – which looks after a variety of historic sites including the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace – said it had been forced to reduce its workforce after an almost 90 per cent reduction in income because of the pandemic. 

In a statement, the charity said: “We expect our recovery to take several years, and that means we must plan to live within half our usual income. We have no choice but to take measures to reduce our costs. We would not be proposing redundancies if we had not exhausted all other means available to us.”

7.40am Help for Heroes to cut 143 staff

Military charity Help for Heroes has announced plans to cut 143 jobs and close three centres, saying its income has dropped by nearly a third during the coronavirus crisis. Help for Heroes said it relies on public donations for 97 per fect of its funding, but many fundraising events had to be cancelled or postponed because of the pandemic. 

As such, Melanie Waters, chief executive of the charity, said a major restructure was the only way the charity could continue with its work. She added: "The crisis has had a devastating impact on the whole UK charity sector, with lasting consequences, and it has hit us hard. These tough decisions have been made to protect the future of the charity and have been taken with our beneficiaries in mind."

The charity said three recovery centres based in Yorkshire, Devon and Essex will remain closed indefinitely as Help for Heroes focuses on face-to-face community and online-based support. 

Wednesday 16 September

4.30pm BA CEO says company won’t ‘fire and rehire’ staff

There is no need for British Airways to lay off cabin crew and then rehire them on inferior terms, the company’s CEO Alex Cruz has said. Unions and MPs had accused the airline of a "fire and rehire" policy in the wake of the impact of Covid-19 on the aviation industry, which saw some employees facing pay cuts of up to 50 per cent. But, speaking to the Transport Select Committee, Cruz told MPs "there will be no need to issue new contracts", subject to staff approval. He said the airline would now follow the "standard methodology" of union agreements and make amendments to existing contracts, with details still being worked out. 

Long-serving cabin crew members face a 15 per cent pay reduction, while hoping to retain many of the allowances which constitute a significant part of their overall pay. "We have reached agreements in a majority of areas," Cruz said. "We very much hope that the result of the ballots will be to accept those ballots." In relation to whether or not BA will have to make 13,000 staff redundant, Cruz said that the company didn't "need to get to that number". However, a large number of long-serving cabin crew have taken voluntary redundancy and many staff felt that the terms being offered at the time meant that was their only choice.

4.15pm Government must introduce better anti-fraud checks if furlough is extended, says watchdog

Gareth Davies, the comptroller and auditor general at the National Audit Office, has warned ministers there will be “no excuse” if billions of pounds worth of furlough fraud continues under a second coronavirus lockdown. He said there had already been “significant” abuse of the scheme which would take months to identify. In an interview with the Guardian, Davies said he understood the urgency with which such schemes were introduced, but warned that the government must introduce new checks if similar measures are to be extended or introduced in a second wave of the virus, and said that abuse so far was of deep concern to auditors.

“While you can understand why some of this wasn’t anticipated, there’s no excuse for it to happen a second time,” he said. “Who knows exactly what might be needed in the future, but we must have better contingency plans so they can be rolled out quickly and the level of fraud properly controlled.” A Whitehall source said the full extent of problems with the job retention scheme may not become clear until April when loans were due to be repaid.

2.50pm Second county in Wales will go into lockdown

A second county in Wales will go into lockdown because of the rate of coronavirus cases. Rhondda Cynon Taff, which is home to around 240,000 people, will have lockdown restrictions imposed from 6pm Thursday (17 September). People will not be able to enter or leave the area without a reasonable excuse, such as travel for work or education. And once the lockdown comes into effect pubs, bars and restaurants will have to shut at 11pm every day.

Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething said there had been a "rapid" rise in cases in the county, with 82.1 infections per 100,000 people over the past seven days. This is the second local lockdown in Wales, after Caerphilly was subject to restrictions last week.

12.40pm Firms spend record £6.6bn plugging skills gaps, report finds

The skills gap is costing companies a record £6.6bn a year on inflated salaries, temporary staffing, recruitment fees and training, with this financial burden tripling since 2017, according to research.

The figures, from the Open University’s Business Barometer, which surveyed 1,000 business leaders across the UK between July and August this year, highlighted the growing cost for UK employers of plugging skills gaps. This cost stood at £2.2bn when the annual survey began in 2017, and has now risen to £6.6bn a year – a 39 per cent rise on 2019.

Viren Patel, corporate director at the Open University, told People Management that spending so much money to plug gaps short term made no sense at any time, but particularly not in the current climate. He said: “At a time when more than half of employers report that their organisation's survival depends on their ability to cut costs, it's somewhat surprising to see that the expenditure on short-term solutions to talent shortages has risen so drastically over the last year."

12.20pm Real-life redundancy experiences: what should have these businesses done differently?

Today (16 September) marks 45 days to go before the end of furlough. As such it’s the date many predict will unleash a new wave of job cuts (with this being the minimum amount of time required for redundancy consultations with 100 or more employees).

Employers have been urged to explore all other options before making cuts, including reductions in working time, withdrawing job offers so existing workers can be redeployed within the business and staff taking unpaid leave. But nonetheless some redundancies will be unavoidable. Which means employers need to ensure they’re approaching this in a legally robust, fair and compassionate way.

We asked three people made redundant as a result of the economic downturn caused by Covid-19 how they felt their former employer had treated them, and asked Josh Sunsoa, redundancy expert and managing partner at Sunsoa & Co, to give his professional assessment.

12.10pm How to decide when to return to the office… and if you ever should

Employers must listen to staff rather than relying on national surveys, gather data on remote working during Covid and be open to hybrid models, says Ian MacRae.

12pm Planning job cuts in the age of coronavirus

With employers needing to issue redundancy notices for the end of furlough by today, Beth Hale and Nick Hawkins explain what they should bear in mind.

10.30am Hull and Blackpool have highest jobless rates in wake of Covid, research finds

Blackpool and Hull have the highest rates of unemployment in the UK, according to analysis of the latest official jobs market figures by Centre for Cities, suggesting areas where local economies were struggling before the pandemic are now among the hardest-hit. It found one in 10 working-age adults (9.9 per cent) in Blackpool were claiming unemployment benefits in August, with a similar amount (9.8 per cent) in Hull, closely followed by Birmingham, Bradford and Liverpool. Unemployment rose fastest in places close to big airports, such as Crawley near Gatwick, Slough near Heathrow and Luton, as the sharp decline in international travel put thousands of aviation and airport jobs at risk. The research was underlined by a report from campaign group Communities in Charge, which identified Blackpool and Hull as the two places most at risk of the “double distress” of a new wave of unemployment adding to already high levels of job deprivation. 

9am Chancellor stresses furlough will not be extended but hints at a new jobs scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said looking for new ways to protect jobs is his "number one priority" but stressed the furlough scheme would not be extended beyond the end of October. He told the BBC: "I wouldn't be being honest with people if I pretended that it was always going to be possible for people to return to the job that they had. Now in terms of helping those people, I don't think the right thing to do is to endlessly extend furlough. People don't want to be at home, they want to be in work, and that's why our plan for jobs is so important, because it helps provide people with new opportunities, going forward."

Employment minister Mims Davies yesterday (15 September) indicated that more targeted support for struggling sectors could be announced by the government, prompting speculation the government was preparing a new jobs scheme. The chancellor dropped his biggest hint yet that this was the case, telling the BBC he was "always looking for interesting creative, innovative and effective new ways to support jobs and employment". He is said to be still sceptical about sectoral targeting, however, because of issues such as how to deal with supply chains and potentially wasting funds on businesses that do not need support.

8.30am ‘Redundancy floodgates’ will open without furlough extension, union says

The Unite union has called on the government to extend furlough or face "redundancy floodgates" opening in the UK, with today marking 45 days before the end of the scheme, which is the same amount of time employers must give for notice of redundancy. The union said that without "a clear and urgent sign" from the government that it is responding to calls to extend the scheme, it fears that "employers facing short-term struggles will issue redundancy notices."

Last week the Treasury select committee said the government should consider a targeted extension of the scheme. In the first week of September manufacturers warned of a second wave of job cuts without an extension, and industry group the CBI said a replacement was needed to avoid a "cliff edge". On Monday (14 September) the TUC said the government should act to prevent a "tsunami" of job losses, and yesterday (15 September) Labour leader Keir Starmer called for the scheme to be replaced. "With our competitor nations announcing the extension or modification of their jobs retention schemes, we ask that your government recognises the need for UK businesses and workers to receive similar support," Unite general secretary Len McCluskey wrote in a letter to prime minister Boris Johnson.

Tuesday 15 September

5pm UK universities on track for ‘bumper year’ of admissions despite Covid

UK universities are heading for a “bumper year” of new admissions, according to preliminary figures, defying warnings of a downturn because of coronavirus. Data from the University and College Admissions Service analysed by DataHE indicates that 22 days after A-level results, 508,090 applicants had accepted places at universities across the UK, an increase of 3.5 per cent compared with the same time in 2019. The main reason cited was the jump in A-level grades after the government’s U-turn on results last month.

Experts have warned, however, that final numbers remained uncertain. The government has committed extra funding for more expensive courses, such as engineering or nursing, at universities with large intakes this year. It has also dropped restrictions on student numbers for those which involve work placements.

4.50pm Translink to cut 54 staff 

Northern Irish transport provider Translink has confirmed plans to cut 54 staff as it tries to make savings of £20m, which it described as a “necessary step”. The company, which has been subsidised with millions of pounds by Stormont, has also proposed to end its Ulsterbus Tours business because of the impact of coronavirus. 

Chris Conway, Translink’s group chief executive, told Belfast Live: “These changes will have a minimal impact on frontline operational employees’ jobs, who continue to deliver scheduled bus and train services. However, in driving improvements to internal processes, we anticipate it is likely there will be a number of redundancies in management and overhead functions.” Conway confirmed that a consultation process with employees and trade unions will start over the coming days.

1.10pm What might replace furlough? (And how likely is this?)

The job retention scheme, the economic equivalent of shielding that has helped keep 9.6 million people in work since it began eight months ago, is set to end in just a matter of weeks. Yet when the scheme finishes at the end of next month, the removal of the subsidy from businesses still reeling from the effects of Covid-19 will see a surge in redundancies, according to experts.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer today (15 September) urged the government to find a way of extending support for those firms that need it, warning of the "scarring effect of mass unemployment" if it fails to act. His concerns echo those of the Institute of Directors, which has said that “some form of an extension to the furlough scheme should remain on the table”, and the Confederation of British Industry, which has argued that “it’s too soon to pull business support away at the end of October”.

So what alternatives to the current scheme have been mooted? How likely are these to be adopted by the government? And how should HR respond if not?

12.40pm HMS Raleigh navy base personnel test positive for Covid-19

A "small number of personnel" at the HMS Raleigh navy base in Cornwall have tested positive for coronavirus, the armed service has confirmed to the BBC. The navy said personnel at the base were under medical supervision, and other personnel who were in contact with those who tested positive were "self-isolating in line with Public Health England guidance". HMS Raleigh is the navy's largest training base in the south west, and the establishment has about 2,200 people on site on a "typical day". 

The navy would not confirm any numbers, but said: "[As a result of] the Covid-19 cases and the personnel who have to self-isolate, we have now taken the precaution of cancelling the passing out parade due to take place on Friday 18 September."

12pm Young people hit hardest as unemployment rises to highest level in two years, ONS finds

The number of employees on payrolls is down 695,000 compared to March this year, according to official data, with young workers bearing the brunt of job cuts. 

The estimates, published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), revealed this drop to be the largest since 2009 when comparing both quarterly and annually.

The ONS found Britain’s unemployment rate increased to 4.1 per cent between May and July, compared to 3.9 per cent the previous quarter. This was also 0.3 percentage points higher than during the same period in 2019. Darren Morgan, director of economic statistics at the ONS, said some effects of the pandemic on the labour market were beginning to “unwind” in July as the economy “reopened” and businesses were allowed to trade again. But he said it was clear the Covid crisis would have a larger impact on the labour market in the coming months. "With the number of employees on the payroll down again in August and both unemployment and redundancies sharply up in July, it is clear that coronavirus is still having a big impact on the world of work," he said.

11.50am Emirates consider cutting 600 UK workers

Almost 600 UK-based Emirates employees could be at risk of losing their jobs as the airline warned it could "consider reducing the size of the UK workforce. According to an internal memo seen by the Independent, an email to staff stated lockdown and other travel restrictions had left passenger demand “extremely subdued”. The email read: “We have to reduce the scale of the operation in order to protect our cash flow and safeguard our business, to ensure that we have a viable future." 

The Independent said the move to cut jobs could reduce Emirates' UK workforce by a third. 

11.45am Soaring numbers misusing alcohol as a result of Covid, warn experts

Addiction services in England could struggle to cope with "soaring" numbers of people misusing alcohol, the Royal College of Psychiatrists is warning. The college estimates that, in June, more than 8.4 million people in England were drinking at higher-risk levels, up from 4.8 million in February. More people addicted to opiates are also seeking help from addiction services, the college said, referring to National Drug Treatment Monitoring System statistics showing 3,459 new adult cases in April – up 20 per cent from 2,947 in the same month last year.

The warning follows a recent CIPD report that found employees are drinking more during the pandemic but many businesses don’t offer proactive support on drug and alcohol misuse. The survey highlighted that those reporting a high workload were more likely to say their alcohol consumption had increased – 31 per cent compared to 24 per cent. Meanwhile, 37 per cent of those who had seen a change in their caring responsibilities said their alcohol consumption had increased, compared to a quarter (25 per cent) of those who hadn’t. 

11.20am Managing Covid-related holiday accrual

From furlough to cancelled time off, Emma O’Connor explains how organisations can deal with mounting levels of annual leave among their workforce.

11.15am How to combat Zoom fatigue

Too many video calls can have a detrimental impact on employees, says Alice Venables, but there are ways to avoid this negative aspect of remote working.

11am Lack of Covid tests causing NHS staff absences

A lack of coronavirus tests for NHS staff is leading to absences and services being put at risk, hospital bosses have warned. NHS Providers said employees are having to self-isolate because they cannot get tests for themselves or family members. It said hospitals in London, Bristol and Leeds had raised concerns over the weekend about this. Chris Hopson, NHS Providers chief executive, said it was "clear" there were capacity problems. 

"It's not just access for tests for staff members themselves, it's also access for their family members as NHS workers have to self-isolate if their family members are unable to confirm if they have Covid-19 or not,” he said. “The problem is that NHS trusts are working in the dark – they don't know why these shortages are occurring, how long they are likely to last, how geographically widespread they are likely to be and what priority will be given to healthcare workers and their families in accessing scarce tests." Home secretary Priti Patel told BBC Breakfast "much more work needs to be undertaken with Public Health England" on testing, and more slots and home kits were being made available as demand had risen.

10.30am Ryanair set to face exec pay rebellion in wake of Covid challenges

Ryanair could this week see a pay rebellion over a €458,000 bonus for chief executive Michael O'Leary, with advisory group ISS saying it was “difficult to justify” the payout when the airline has utilised the furlough scheme and accessed a £600m loan from the Bank of England. O'Leary's total remuneration for the year to March was €3.5m, with his bonus close to 92 per cent of the maximum he could have received. ISS, which has advised investors to vote against the non-binding pay report, said Ryanair had “ample opportunity” to reduce the bonus “in light of the obvious looming challenges facing the company”.

8.20am Domino's Pizza to create 5,000 jobs

Domino’s Pizza has announced it will create 5,000 jobs and support more than 1,000 placements through the government’s Kickstart scheme. The 5,000 new roles – which include pizza chefs, delivery drives and customer service staff – are in addition to the 6,000 jobs the pizza chain has created since the beginning of the pandemic.

Domino's said it will also offer on-the-job training and e-learning modules on key skills to its more than 1,000 work placements through the Kickstart scheme. Dominic Paul, Domino’s new chief executive, said: “We’re delighted to support the government’s Kickstart scheme, offering young people the chance to get back into work and to build lifelong skills through our training programmes. Together, these 6,000-plus new roles will help Domino’s continue to safely serve our local communities as we head towards the busy festive period.”

7.50am UK employers have cut 695,000 jobs since March

UK employers have made 695,000 jobs redundant since March, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published today. The ONS said the UK's unemployment rate increased to 4.1 per cent between May and July, up from 3.9 per cent in April. 

According to the data, workers aged between 16 to 24 have taken the heaviest jobs hit, with employment of young workers down by about 150,000 since March. Older workers also took a huge hit, with employment of those aged 65 and over declining by 92,000. 

7.20am Labour leader to call for furlough scheme replacement

Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour party, is expected to call on the government for a replacement for the furlough scheme. Speaking to the TUC's annual conference today, Starmer will make the case for replacing the job retention scheme and to outlaw "firing and rehiring" methods to avoid the "scarring effect" of "mass unemployment".

His alternative proposals include expanding part-time working and rewarding employers that give people hours rather than cut jobs; providing training and support for those who can't come back full time; and targeting sectors most in need and those hit by local lockdowns.

Monday 14 September

1.20pm Half of key workers have blown whistle on unsafe Covid practices, poll finds

Just under half (46 per cent) of key workers have blown the whistle on their employer for engaging in dangerous workplace practices during the coronavirus pandemic, a study has found.

The research by employment law specialist Slater and Gordon surveyed 1,000 key workers in August, including nurses, doctors, teachers, service workers and transport staff. It found many had been forced to highlight issues that could put colleagues, customers and patients at risk from Covid-19.

The most common concern among those surveyed was an inability to social distance, cited by more than half (55 per cent). More than two-fifths (44 per cent) cited a lack of or limited PPE, and a quarter (25 per cent) said they were most concerned about employers forcing vulnerable people back to the workplace. 

1.10pm London City Airport to cut a third of jobs

London City Airport has said it is consulting on axing 239 roles – more than a third of its total workforce – in the latest blow to the aviation industry.

The airport closed down for three months during the pandemic and furloughed most of its staff. It reopened in June, now operating just 17 routes.  

Chief executive Robert Sinclair told the Guardian that it had “held off looking at job losses for as long as possible, but sadly we are not immune from the devastating impact of this virus”, adding: “We believe that the difficult decisions we are taking now will enable the airport to bounce back in a better shape when growth returns.”

12.30pm Covid redundancies will exceed anything seen in ‘at least a generation’, study suggests

The number of redundancies planned in the UK will exceed anything seen in “at least a generation”, according to a study that warns employers plan to make twice as many job cuts as they did at the height of the last recession.

New analysis of official data obtained by a freedom of information request found employers notified the government of nearly 380,000 staff at risk of redundancy between May and July 2020. This is double the peak reached during the last recession, when 180,000 staff were at risk of being made redundant between January and March 2009.

The Institute for Employment Studies, which published the research, estimated that the UK was likely to see around 450,000 redundancies this autumn alone. It warned this figure could exceed 735,000 if redundancy notifications continued to rise. 

11.50am How HR can revolutionise strategies post Covid

Our ways of working will be irreversibly changed because of coronavirus, says Dean Corbett, so people professionals need to pool their knowledge to decide best practice.

11.40am How might lockdown improve flexibility for working fathers?

Gary Henderson and Val Dougan explore whether the coronavirus pandemic could deliver where SPL failed and offer improved work-life balance for parents.

11am More than 60 Wetherspoon staff test positive for Covid-19

Pub chain JD Wetherspoon has reported that 66 of its employees have tested positive for Covid-19 since it reopened its venues on 4 July. The chain, which employs more than 41,000 staff across 861 pubs in the UK, said most of the cases had been asymptomatic and, according to the Guardian, 28 of the affected workers had since returned to work after self-isolating.

Company chair Tim Martin told the paper that Wetherspoon had invested £15m in physical distancing and hygiene measures. 

10am Hundreds of jobs at risk at Bangor University 

Bangor University is asking staff to consider voluntary redundancy, cutting their hours, taking career breaks or early retirement as it faces £13m of cuts because of coronavirus. According to WalesOnline, Bangor University vice chancellor Professor Iwan Davies said 200 jobs are at risk and talks with trades unions have begun. Davies’ statement read: “The challenge is immediate and so it is essential that we respond quickly. It is unlikely that the university will simply return to the way things were before the pandemic. We need to be prepared to make tough decisions for us to emerge stronger and a more resilient university.”

9.20am Arcadia Group apologises for initially basing notice pay on furlough rates

Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia Group has apologised over a furlough pay dispute with its employees. Trade union Unite had threatened the retail empire with legal action over claims it was paying some of its head office staff only 50 per cent of their redundancy notice pay. Arcadia, which is cutting 300 jobs from its head office in response to the effects of the pandemic, said on Saturday (12 September): "We recently implemented a policy for those employees who are working their notice on furlough to receive their furlough pay instead of their full pay. We got this decision wrong and the board has today amended this policy to ensure all affected employees will receive their full pay. We are extremely sorry to all those individuals [affected] for the distress that we have caused and apologise unreservedly." 

Unite regional officer Debbie McSweeney said it was "almost without precedent for Arcadia to apologise for such behaviour towards employees". "But this situation should have never been allowed to happen in the first place by Sir Philip Green, one of the country's richest men," she said.

9am Reopening offices risks excluding women and minorities, warns CMI chief exec

The government’s back to work plan risks a return to “white middle-aged males” making important decisions in the office, while women and people from ethnic minorities are excluded at home, Chartered Management Institute (CMI) chief executive Ann Francke has said. In an interview with the Guardian, she warned that without careful oversight “blended working” could result in a two-tier system where women without sufficient childcare to return to the office are left out of key decisions. 

Exclusive polling by the CMI for the Guardian revealed that nearly half of managers (42 per cent) believe a lack of childcare caused by the coronavirus pandemic will have negative impacts for female employees, while only 20 per cent believe it will be a problem for men. However, more than half of managers (58 per cent) said they did not think women’s career progression in their organisation would be affected by a phased return to work.

Francke also put herself firmly at odds with government messaging about the safety of returning to the office, stating: “I don’t think it is the responsibility of companies to save the local sandwich shop […] The bottom line is, ultimately those businesses that are really affected in the long term will have to adapt.”

8.45am TUC congress to call for government to act as furlough nears end

Chancellor Rishi Sunak must "stand by working families" as the furlough scheme nears its October end, TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady is set to say at the union’s congress in London today. "If the government doesn't act, we face a tsunami of job losses," O'Grady is expected to say. "Unions pushed for the job retention scheme. So my message to the chancellor is this: 'We worked together once before. We are ready to work with you again – if you are serious about stopping the catastrophe of mass unemployment.’” The TUC is also calling for a new "job protection and skills deal", which would include mandatory training and "upskilling" for workers placed on furlough.

8.30am Welsh government’s work from home message contradicts PM’s

The Welsh government has set a new target of 30 per cent of the workforce continuing to work from home even once Covid restrictions are eased. This runs contrary to UK prime minister Boris Johnson’s drive to get people back to work. Welsh ministers said it was a chance to adopt culture that "supports remote working". The move could reduce congestion and pollution, and improve work-life balance, they argue. "The UK government instruction for everyone to go back to the office is not one we are repeating in Wales," said the deputy minister for transport and economy, Lee Waters. "We believe many people will want to continue to work remotely in the longer term and this could be a step-change in the way we work in Wales." 

As part of its policy, officials said they were exploring how to develop a network of "community-based working hubs". These would be office-like environments within walking or cycling distance of homes, and shared by public, private and voluntary bodies. The Welsh government will not use any legislative powers to compel home working.

Friday 11 September

5.05pm American Express Global Business Travel to cut a third of UK workforce 

American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) has confirmed it will make cuts to its UK workforce because of the impact of coronavirus on the hospitality industry. It is expected to cut a third of its 2,200-strong UK workforce, according to Breaking Travel News which reported that “no firm details were forthcoming” from the company. 

A statement explained that “GBT is in a very strong financial position” but that it must reset its cost base to “more closely align with demand” in the current environment. It added that it has taken measures including voluntary retirement and severance programmes, alongside new flexible working options but said there were “some areas where unfortunately these measures alone are insufficient”. 

5pm French government to pay wages of parents forced to stay home to provide childcare

The French government has announced that working parents forced to stay home to care for children whose schools are closed by outbreaks of Covid-19 will have their wages paid by the state. One parent in each household with children under 16 will be eligible to receive 84 per cent of their normal salary. France recorded almost 10,000 new Covid-19 infections yesterday (10 September), its highest ever single-day total. 

4.45pm Return to Scottish offices won’t happen for at least three weeks, says Sturgeon

Businesses will struggle to survive a return to stricter coronavirus measures, the Scottish Chambers of Commerce has warned, after first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the return to the office would not happen in Scotland for at least another three weeks. Sturgeon told MSPs yesterday (10 September) that the reopening of call centres and offices will now be reviewed on 1 October, and that home working must remain the “default position”

Dr Liz Cameron, CEO of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: "We need to move forward to ensure our economy can recover and stem the loss of jobs where possible.That's why we need our offices to be allowed to open quickly, particularly those where businesses have worked closely with employees and invested heavily in safety procedures.” Andrew McRae, the Federation of Small Businesses Scotland's policy chair, added that the decision would have “consequences for firms reliant on workers' footfall in our town and city centres.” 

2.40pm Ulster Bank to cut 266 jobs across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

Ulster Bank has announced it will be cutting a total of 266 roles across its operations, split between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is understood that 216 jobs will be lost in the Republic of Ireland and 53 cut in the North.

A spokesman for Ulster Bank said the move to cut jobs was the "next phase" in the bank's cost cutting programme, and it aims to achieve these numbers on a "voluntary redundancy basis, where possible". The spokesperson added: "A small number of roles have also been created. We know this is difficult news for our colleagues, and we are doing everything we can to support those affected by the changes.”

1.10pm Majority of employees want to work from home for most of the week, research finds

More than half of employees want to work from home for most of the week, according to new research – an almost six-fold rise since the start of lockdown. The survey of 4,500 people conducted by Zurich Insurance, the results of which were released yesterday, revealed 59 per cent of people would still prefer to spend more than half their working week at home, despite government calls for office-based workers to return.

12.20pm Two arrested in London on suspicion of £70,000 furlough fraud

Two people have been arrested in London as part of an HMRC investigation into a suspected £70,000 furlough fraud. HMRC officers arrested an accountant and a company director yesterday (10 September) in the Romford and Walthamstow areas of London. Digital devices and business records were also seized. 

12.00pm A v-shaped economic recovery needs a matching wellbeing recovery

As the UK gets back on its feet after the pandemic, businesses must also focus on their employees’ health, argues Vicky Walker.

11.50am How are people teams responding to coronavirus?

Teresa Exelby, chief people officer for Community Integrated Care, shares how the social care charity has recruited more than a thousand staff since March, rolling out faster hiring processes and virtual training to get new workers up to speed.

11.41am Leeds DWP office ‘failed to ensure’ health and safety, inspection found 

The government office was inspected by Health and Safety England (HSE), following complaints about workplace safety concerns, and found in breach of health and safety law.

A whistleblower told the BBC that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) office in Leeds had recently undergone a recruitment drive amid the rise in Universal Credit claimants because of coronavirus, which saw the office at around 50 per cent full. The report by HSE said: "You are failing to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of your employees/agency staff at work because you have not implemented necessary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19."  Breaches included: walkways designated as two-way travel despite being a meter wide, stairwells not wide enough for two-way travel and desks lacking “do not use” signage. 

DWP has been warned a fee would need to be paid because of “material breaches” of health and safety law and was given a deadline of Tuesday 15 September to confirm action had been taken. DWP confirmed it has “taken urgent action to rectify all issues”. 

11.30am BMW factory in Oxford delays job cuts

Almost 400 job cuts at a BMW Mini plant in Oxford have been put on hold after an increase in global demand. The plant was due to drop shifts to account for a decrease in sales due to the pandemic, resulting in 400 agency workers being made redundant. But a spokesperson for BMW said the shift change and job cuts had been postponed due to "recent and unexpected improvements in global customer demand".

However, BMW warned the situation would be kept under close review because of the "unpredictable" market, and it could not guarantee if jobs would be secured in the future. 

10.20am Norwich Theatre cuts 165 jobs

Norwich Theatre – which runs the Theatre Royal, Playhouse and Stage Two – has confirmed it has cut 165 jobs across its three sites as a result of Covid-19 and the financial implications of prolonged closure. In July, Norwich Theatre announced it would undergo a restructure, and that 113 employees were at risk of being made redundant. This equated to 53 per cent of the group's workforce. 

A further 59 workers on zero-hours contracts were let go after the group said they would no longer receive any work because of the pandemic. Chief executive Stephen Crocker said: “None of us could have predicted the extent of the impact that Covid-19 would have on our organisation and our sector as a whole as theatres like ours across the country are being forced to remain closed and therefore make major changes in order to ensure that they can reopen again."

8.40am Face masks in shops to be mandatory in Wales

People in Wales must wear face coverings in shops and other indoor public spaces from Monday (14 September), the Welsh government has announced. First minister Mark Drakeford said change comes on the back of a spike in coronavirus cases in Wales. 

Drakeford said: "Today for the first time we will go to a point where 20 people in 100,000 are suffering from coronavirus in Wales. That is the threshold we use for people to have to quarantine coming back into the UK. And having reached that today, we will be making the use of face coverings mandatory in shops and in closed public spaces in Wales."

7.50am Furlough should be extended to avoid mass unemployment, say MPs

The government should consider a targeted extension of its furlough scheme or risk mass unemployment, the Treasury Select Committee has warned. The committee said many viable businesses could not remain open without the government's support through the furlough scheme, which would lead to further job cuts. 

However, it said the blanket retention of the furlough scheme is currently “not effectively targeted” and does not clearly offer value for money. The committee also called on the government to extend reforms to Universal Credit past their one-year cut-off, support small businesses struggling with debt and define “levelling up”.

Thursday 10 September

3.55pm Worker footfall not increasing in city centres, according to report 

Despite the government’s push to get more workers into the office in a bid to protect the economy from collapse, the number of people returning to offices has not increased in the past two months. Figures from the Center for Cities, which consisted of analysis of mobile phone tracking data, showed that worker footfall across 63 of the UK’s largest town and city centres was just 17 per cent of pre-lockdown levels at the end of June, and remained at that level throughout August. 

The data showed it was down most in Oxford, Leeds and London but numbers had risen in smaller cities and large towns such as Mansfield, Basildon and Newport. This was still less than half of normal levels. Andrew Carter, the Centre for Cities chief executive told the Guardian: “Unless we see a big increase in people returning to the office, the chancellor must set out how he will support the people working in retail and hospitality who could soon find themselves out of a job.”

3.45pm Think tank urges chancellor to bolster job creation schemes with £15bn cash injection 

The Learning and Work Institute (LWI) has urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to pledge £15bn for job creation schemes at the autumn budget to protect 1 million people from unemployment when the furlough scheme ends. The think tank has said a shift in public investment was needed to create employment opportunities and avoid any lasting damage for unemployed workers. In a report it said a £4bn wage subsidy scheme should be used to pay at least 20 per cent of the wages of 500,000 workers in hard hit sectors - such as hospitality and retail - after the furlough scheme ends in October. 

LWI leader and former Treasury adviser Stephen Evans told the Guardian: “To close the jobs gap, we need public investment to create jobs, measures to encourage employers to create jobs, and a new wage support scheme to protect jobs in sectors hardest hit by the crisis.”

2.20pm Cancer charity announces second round of redundancies

Cancer charity Clic Sargent said it may need to make a second round of redundancies to cope with a £9m shortfall in funding because of the pandemic. In July, Clic Sargent made 38 roles redundant because of the coronavirus outbreak. Last week, the charity, which employs 424 staff, said it would consider making a further 39 roles redundant. The combined job cuts equate to a 15 per cent drop in staffing levels.

Clic Sargent said it needed to make further changes to the way it operates to protect its frontline services, and the charity expected some roles would be changed while new roles would be created to support new ways of working.

1.05pm Will workplace testing become mandatory? And how should HR approach it?

It has been reported that the UK government may begin to urge companies to launch regular workplace Covid-19 testing, with meetings between business leaders and Whitehall officials on the deployment of mobile testing units to offices and factories around the country rumoured to have taken place over recent weeks. Some employers could apparently be allowed to stay open even if there are fresh local lockdowns in their area if they are conducting regular testing of staff.

Yet only 1 per cent of employers responding to People Management’s recent return to the office survey had plans to implement regular testing. So what does HR need to know to get up to speed? Should they be considering workplace testing regardless of government dictates? And if so, what’s the best way of rolling this out?

12pm British Airways job cuts hit 8,000

British Airways announced today it had cut 8,236 jobs, while its parent company, IAG, said it had approved a fundraising plan earlier this week. The airline is currently in a widespread redundancy process that will see 13,000 roles lost. IAG said the majority of the roles that were cut had been voluntary redundancies. 

11.40am More than 124,500 retail jobs have been lost in the UK, study finds

More than 124,500 retail jobs have been lost in the first eight months of this year, according to a study by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR). The CRR found as many as 13,867 shops closed permanently during this period, and an approximate 124,515 jobs were lost as a result. The research comes as high street chains like M&S, Debenhams, Boots and John Lewis have announced they will be making redundancies. 

Professor Joshua Bamfield, director at the CRR, said increasing costs and the move to online shopping meant “retail was already in crisis before the pandemic”. He added: “Covid-19 has been a real hammer blow for retailers, many of which were not in good health before the contagion took a hand. The prospects for many non-food retailers are bleak.” 

9.50am Pause ‘headlong rush’ to get everyone back into offices, says disease expert 

Professor Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at the MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, has warned there had been an “uptick” in Covid-related hospital admissions in the UK in recent days, and urged the government to “maybe pause at the headlong rush to get everybody back into offices” in England.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Ferguson said: “I’m still working from home, many people I know are still working from home and I think we should hesitate and maybe pause at the headlong rush to get everybody back into offices. But some people have to [go to] work and I completely understand the concerns in many quarters that everybody working at home has an economic impact, particularly on city centres.”

9.30am KPMG staff demand compensation for Covid pay cuts

KPMG staff have said they want compensation for pay cuts made in anticipation of profits being hit by the pandemic. Like numerous other businesses, the audit firm introduced a 20 per cent pay cut in April in the expectation that work would dry up because of the Covid crisis. KPMG staff are now back on full pay but at a recent online company-wide meeting many demanded compensation given the firm was back to awarding bonuses. "I am struggling to understand how it is fair to not pay all staff back the full amount of lost pay while committing to paying some staff bonuses," one anonymous staffer said. Meanwhile, Deloitte has ended salary cuts early after posting higher than expected profits.

9.15am Lawyers switching to work at virtual firms

A growing number of lawyers are swapping a traditional office job for a ‘virtual’ firm as a result of the pandemic, according to business advisory firm Hazlewoods. It said there had been a 7 per cent increase in the number of lawyers at virtual firms in the UK since the outbreak of coronavirus. There were currently 1,355 lawyers working at virtual law firms, up from 1,270 pre-Covid and just 803 in 2017. Hazlewoods found that many lawyers were questioning whether they could earn more individually at a lower-overhead virtual firm by retaining a higher percentage of their billing.

9am Goldman Sachs to reopen offices with a rota system

Goldman Sachs has announced it will be reopening its offices in the coming weeks. CEO David Solomon told employees in a memo yesterday (9 September) that bosses would soon be introducing rota systems to bring staff back to the office. The rotational approach will be tailored to individuals, teams and the countries they are operating in, and workers who feel uncomfortable going back to the office will be supported by their manager. The memo said: "This rotational approach will not look the same for everyone, as we each navigate unique personal responsibilities – for example, planning around adjusted school schedules, managing personal and family health conditions, and not being comfortable commuting to the office during peak hours."

7.30am Pizza Hut to cut 450 jobs

Pizza Hut Restaurants has confirmed its intention to shut 29 of its UK sites, putting around 450 jobs at risk. The news comes as the chain, which employs more than 5,000 people in the UK, is to switch to a turnover rent model, which would see it paying landlords based on the revenue levels in each of its 245 outlets.

Pizza Hut Restaurants said the closures and rent scheme were part of a rescue deal to "mitigate the financial impact of Covid-19". The chain is the main franchise of the Pizza Hut brand in the UK, and is a separate company to the Pizza Hut UK business, which focuses on food delivery from a further 380 sites.

Wednesday 9 September

4.30pm New tests to ascertain who doesn’t have the virus could see workplaces return to normal, says prime minister 

In a live press conference today, prime minister Boris Johnson suggested that new tests that will ascertain who does not have the virus will be rolled out in “the near future” and could see workplaces return to “how they were before”. Johnson said he “hoped and believed” that these tests would be available in the UK soon, however further details on when they would be deployed are yet to be announced. 

4.20pm Hospitality venues must record details or face fines, says prime minister

In a live press conference, prime minister Boris Johnson revealed that hospitality venues such as pubs will be legally required to record customers’ details and keep them on file for 21 days to aid NHS Test and Trace, adding that fines will be issued to businesses that don’t comply. The cost of the fine and further details are yet to be announced. 

2.50pm Lloyds to cut hundreds of UK jobs

Lloyds Banking Group is to cut 865 jobs across the UK as the firm goes through with restructuring proposals made before the pandemic. The bank said the restructure will also create 226 new roles to add to the group's almost 65,000-strong workforce.

A spokesperson for Lloyds said: “We will seek to redeploy wherever possible, with all colleagues given access to a package of training and support designed to help them secure their next position, whether within or outside of the group.” 

1.20pm Only a third of UK employees feel resilient, survey finds

Only one-third (29 per cent) of UK employees reported feeling resilient at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a report by Aon has found. The survey of 2,500 employers and employees across the UK, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands revealed that UK employees with poor resilience had 59 per cent lower engagement and were 43 per cent less likely to want to stay with their employer than those who felt resilient.

Compiled based on a survey conducted in March 2020, The Rising Resilient report found that while 80 per cent of employers from all countries agreed health and wellbeing initiatives were beneficial, this was not necessarily leading to the creation of resilient workforces. Only 29 per cent of UK employees were found to be resilient based on three core indicators: the employees’ sense of security, sense of belonging and ability to reach their potential. 

1pm How probation can streamline recruiting during a recession

If used correctly, probationary periods can help employers avoid costly mis-hires in the wake of coronavirus, says James Tamm.

12.50pm How CPP Group is approaching reopening its offices

The financial services and insurance firm didn’t want to just assume it could go back to normal – instead it took the chance to learn from lockdown, says Justine Shaw.

12.40pm Could employers be obliged to pay the full wages of self-isolating staff?

The government is coming under mounting pressure to reform statutory sick pay (SSP). This is currently set at £95.85 per week, leaving people just £13.69 a day to live on. Health secretary Matt Hancock reignited the debate earlier this year when he admitted he would not be able to survive on the amount paid.

Radical reforms are now being proposed, which would see a steep rise in the amount employees are entitled to, amid fears that many cannot afford to take time off if ill or self-isolating because of Covid-19. People Management explores this call for change – crucially, how likely it is to be heeded, and whether employers would be expected to foot the bill.

11.30am Concrete manufacturer to create 95 jobs

Tobermore Concrete, which manufactures paving and walling for the UK and Ireland, has said it plans to create 95 jobs. The manufacturer said it is planning to invest £30m in new production facilities and hopes the investment will allow it to target new markets. The new jobs will be across various roles including sales, operations and production. 

9.40am Health secretary won't rule out second lockdown

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said he would not rule out a return to the national lockdown experienced throughout the UK earlier this year. His comments came after the government announced a ban on social gatherings of more than six people from next Monday (14 September), because of a surge in new infections in the UK.

In an interview with radio station LBC, Hancock said he hoped a lockdown could be avoided, but he "wouldn't make a vow" that the UK would not return to a full lockdown should coronavirus cases continue to spike. He added: "Our goal is to avoid having to do anything more drastic by people following the rules."

In the same interview, he assured that it was still safe for people to return to work because "we have Covid-secure offices". He said: “We have got to protect livelihoods through this crisis as well as lives, and the strategy is to protect education, to protect work, and we are therefore bringing in tighter rules on social engagement because that’s where we are seeing the majority of the transmission.”

9am Return to work slow in City of London

Catherine McGuinness, policy chair at the City of London Corporation, has said confidence in using public transport is holding bankers back from returning to their offices. She said she was “very concerned” about how the lack of people in London’s financial district was hitting local shops and cafes. Some 40 to 50 per cent of staff are expected to return to the office in the medium term, McGuinness added. Her warning followed a group of London-based businesses, including insurers Aviva and Legal & General, insurance broker Aon, management consultants Accenture, law firm Clyde & Co and property company JLL holding a meeting on Monday (7 September) to discuss ways that companies would work to support employees and businesses return to the workplace.

8.50am Iceland to create 3,000 jobs 

Grocery chain Iceland has said it plans to create 3,000 jobs to help cope with a surge in demand for online deliveries since lockdown began. The new jobs include delivery drivers and extra staff in store to pick online orders. David Devany, chief customer and digital officer at Iceland, said the chain had been "blown away" by the demand for online deliveries over the past six months, with a four-fold increase in online orders since the beginning of lockdown. He said: "We see no sign of a slowdown in the demand for deliveries in the run up to Christmas, so a recruitment drive for more permanent staff was essential."

8.20am Building affordable housing could be key to Scotland's post-Covid jobs 

Building affordable housing should be a key part of Scotland's recovery during the recession caused by the pandemic, a report has said. The UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence and the Housing Associations' Charitable Trust said new house building would create jobs, improve health and reduce poverty in the wake of the pandemic. Its report found Scotland required 53,000 affordable homes to be built between 2021 and 2026. Their construction would create around 200,000 jobs, boost the Scottish economy by £2bn and raise £100m in tax revenue. 

Tuesday 8 September

5pm Labour calls for furlough extension to save pubs and bars

Labour has warned that many pubs and bars will be forced to close unless the government extends the furlough scheme, currently due to end in October. “Pubs are a vital part of our high streets and social fabric in communities up and down the country,” said Lucy Powell, shadow business minister. “They have been hit hard by the pandemic, and Tory indifference and incompetence over many years means that many have gone to the wall. Ministers’ blanket approach to ending the furlough scheme further threatens the future of many more. The furlough scheme must be extended for hard hit sectors to save jobs now.” Labour is also calling for funds leftover from the government’s business grant scheme to be funnelled into a new Hospitality and High Street Fightback Fund to help ailing businesses.

2.50pm Morrisons to make thousands of temporary staff permanent

Morrisons has said it plans to make thousands of temporary staff permanent as it sees a surge in demand for online deliveries because of the pandemic. The supermarket had about 97,000 workers before the pandemic and took on an extra 45,000 temporary staff during the crisis. Of these temporary workers, 25,000 are still currently employed by Morrisons, and 6,000 have already been given permanent jobs.

The supermarket chain is expected to announce on Thursday that it plans to make thousands more of these temporary workers permanent in the coming weeks. A spokesperson said: "Morrisons has been playing its full part in feeding the nation, and that has required the largest recruitment drive our company has ever seen."

12.30pm Remote working has negative effects, says Netflix boss

Working from home has no positive effects and makes debating ideas harder, Netflix's chairman, Reed Hastings, has said, speaking to The Wall Street Journal. “Not being able to get together in person, particularly internationally, is a pure negative,” he said. However, Netflix’s 8,600 employees would not have to return to the office until most of them had received an approved coronavirus vaccine, he added, predicting most employees would continue to work from home on one day a week even after the pandemic was over. “The hope is that, through September and October, we can really get – with proper testing – a lot more running,” he told the paper.

12.05pm HMRC won’t go after firms making ’legitimate’ furlough errors, it says

HMRC will “not set out to try to find employers that have made legitimate mistakes” when claiming through the job retention scheme, it has said, speaking publicly for the first time about the level of furlough fraud that could have been committed to date.

Speaking to MPs on Monday (7 September), HMRC said it estimated that up to £3.5bn payments made through the furlough scheme may have been claimed in error or fraudulently. It said that as much as 10 per cent of funds paid through the scheme could have been wrongly awarded. 

Hartley Foster, head of tax disputes at Fieldfisher, said HMRC had displayed a perhaps surprising amount of “leniency” towards businesses accidentally over claiming from the scheme. “While HMRC must be commended for how swiftly it got payments out, it is now clear that it has an additional and very large target – overpaid furlough payments,” Foster said. “On the other hand, the repeated warnings and nudge letters are a form of leniency from HMRC and show that it wants employers to check and come forward rather than HMRC having to identify overpaid or fraudulent furlough payments.”

11.10pm Avoiding disputes arising from Covid-19 

Layla Barke-Jones outlines how businesses can reduce the risk of grievances, from completing a thorough risk assessment to prioritising employee engagement.

9.15am Transport use increases as some staff return to workplaces

The number of passengers using major public transport hubs has jumped to the highest since the start of the pandemic amid a government push for employees to return to workplaces. More people entered the UK’s key rail hubs during the morning peak period yesterday (7 September) than at any time since the start of lockdown, according to footfall figures from Network Rail. Footfall in major stations increased by 12 per cent compared with Friday (4 September), it said, while bus travel increased by 39 per cent when compared with last Tuesday (1 September), the first day of the working week after the bank holiday. 

The figures came as MPs and industry bodies urged staff to return to their desks to save city centre economies. Despite a pick-up in spending in August, the British Retail Consortium said sales were still below pre-pandemic levels and the lack of workers going into offices was having a devastating impact on shops operating in places once busy with workers. However, London mayor Sadiq Khan warned the UK government against “berating people or shouting at them to return to central London”, calling for “honesty” about the potential risks of a large-scale return to city offices. 

8.45am Law firms reluctant to return employees to the office

UK law firms are apparently reluctant to return to the office despite a government drive to get people back. It is estimated that just 10 per cent of City solicitors are working on site, according to the Law Society Gazette, which added, however, that September and October could see a tentative return to normality. 

Eversheds Sutherland will enter “phase one” of its reopening plan this month, in which a quarter of its staff will return to 10 UK offices. Allen & Overy will open offices for employees on a voluntary basis but people will have access only on alternate weeks. At Freshfields, one cohort of staff will move to new City skyscraper 100 Bishopsgate this month. A second group is due to move to the office in December, though everyone still has the option to work from home. Other firms have kept summer restrictions in place. Meanwhile, on the financial services side of things, some 50 per cent of bankers, traders and analysts at JPMorgan are set to return to the firm’s Canary Wharf London headquarters on a ‘week on, week off’ basis, up from 25 per cent previously. 

8.30am UK employers plan to make work more flexible post Covid

More than two-thirds of UK employers plan to overhaul their working arrangements by offering staff more remote working, flexitime and training options in the wake of the pandemic, a survey by ManpowerGroup has found. It also discovered hiring intentions were up and the jobs outlook for the final quarter was improving. Mark Cahill, managing director of ManpowerGroup UK, said: "This is still the second weakest outlook we've seen since 1992. But the increase from last quarter, along with a positive trend in several key sectors, is cause for some cautious optimism. Despite the end of the furlough scheme in October and signs of a resurgence in the virus in some areas, employers expect the jobs outlook to be tentatively heading in the right direction as 2020 ends."

7.30am 300,000 redundancies planned in June and July, investigation finds

More than 300,000 redundancies were planned in June and July, according to figures obtained by a BBC freedom of investigation request. The investigation revealed 1,888 UK employers made plans to cut nearly 156,000 jobs. In July, 1,784 firms began the process of making nearly 150,000 roles redundant in July.

Boots, John Lewis, Selfridges, the Guardian and the National Trust were some of the many employers to announce redundancy plans in June and July. The BBC theorised the rise in the number of firms filing notice of redundancy and the spike in the number of positions at risk gives a "strong early indication that large numbers of jobs are likely to go in coming months".

Monday 7 September

4.20pm UK risks second wave of job cuts if it does not extend furlough, say business groups 

Manufacturing industry body Make UK has said the job retention scheme should last beyond October for hard-hit sectors to avoid a “second wave” of job cuts. A survey of more than 200 manufacturing firms said more than 60 per cent wanted the scheme extended for strategic industries such as aerospace and car manufacturing, and a quarter said it should be continued in the event of further lockdowns or a second wave of infections.  

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, said the first building block in economic recovery “should be an extension of the job retention scheme to those sectors which are not just our most important but who have been hit hardest”. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has also said a replacement for the furlough scheme was needed to avoid a “cliff edge”. 

4pm Bloomberg offers staff returning to the office expenses

Bloomberg staff will be able to claim as much as $75 (£55) per day to cover the cost of returning to their offices from today. The offer has been made to the company’s 20,000 global staff as part of an attempt to address health and safety fears associated with working in offices. "We are pleased to provide up to $75 a day to cover out-of-pocket transportation costs when commuting going forward during the pandemic – whether for car services, tolls, parking or public transportation," the company told staff in an internal memo. Meanwhile, private equity groups Blackstone and Advent International are both providing staff with coronavirus tests and asking employees not to use public transport as they prepare to return to their desks after months of remote working.

1pm Three in five medium-sized firms plan to cut jobs in the coming weeks 

Three in five medium-sized firms are planning to make job cuts in the coming weeks as the government's furlough scheme is set to end in October. According to a survey conducted by business advisory company BDO, 60 per cent of medium-sized companies in the UK plan to make redundancies once the furlough scheme ends. A majority (97 per cent) said they have already made job cuts in the organisation, while 54 per cent admitted to cutting between 11 to 20 per cent of their workforce. 

The survey also revealed less than 10 per cent have no plans for any job cuts at all in the coming weeks. Paul Eagland, managing partner at BDO, said the figures highlight some of the "very tough" challenges and decisions businesses are faced with because of the pandemic. He added: "However, the harsh reality is that these are unprecedented times and we would encourage the government to introduce policies that will help UK business survive and ultimately compete internationally – other governments around the world are and will be introducing policies to protect their businesses – we must not fall behind, particularly with Brexit looming."

12pm National living wage could be frozen amid Covid uncertainty

The Treasury is apparently considering putting a hold on a planned rise to the national living wage (NLW) as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a report in The Telegraph, the government has been discussing applying an “emergency brake” to the NLW for workers aged 25 and over, which was set to increase by 6.2 per cent as of April 2021, with hourly wages rising from £8.72 to £9.21 per hour. Those aged 21-24 were set to benefit from the biggest increase of 6.5 per cent, amounting to an hourly rate of £8.20. 

But members of the Low Pay Commission, which advises the government on annual increases to pay rates, reportedly believe the increase in April could now be unaffordable for many companies struggling in the wake of the pandemic and subsequent recession, and could result in an increased number of job losses.

The commission will meet at the end of October to decide on a number of recommendations for the upcoming autumn budget, and the panel could freeze the planned rise if evidence suggests it could be “damaging for the lowest-paid workers”.

11.30am New legal risks for recruiters

Carla Feakins explains the potential legislative pitfalls brought about by coronavirus that hiring professionals should be aware of.

11.20am Pizza Express plan to shut 73 restaurants approved by creditors

Pizza Express has been given the go-ahead by creditors to go through with plans to permanently shut 73 restaurants, putting almost 1,100 jobs at risk. The Italian food chain said 89 per cent of its creditors voted for its company voluntary arrangement restructuring deal, which will also see it secure rent reductions. 

Last month, Pizza Express said its rental costs were no longer sustainable because of the slump in revenue caused by the lockdown, the cost of reopening and the UK's uncertain economic future. In a statement, Pizza Express said: "The successful vote unlocks the company's ability to actively address the challenges brought by Covid-19, securing more than 9,000 jobs in the UK." 

9am Trains return to 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels to encourage people back to work

More train services in England, Wales and Scotland have begun running from today as schools reopen and people are encouraged to return to work. The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said services were returning to around 90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. Rail passenger numbers are now back to about one-third of pre-pandemic levels. 

Francis Thomas, head of corporate affairs at West Midlands Trains, told the BBC travellers would notice a number of differences. "We have made big changes to our stations," he said. "If you haven't been to a railway station in the last couple of months you might find there's a one-way system at your local stations, there's hand gel available and we've invested in anti-fogging machines that can spread an anti-viral on trains. And there's plenty of space. We reckon we can carry about 40 per cent of normal loads before we start to reach social distancing." Train companies are now working to manage passenger flows by warning people if a particular service is busy. Southeastern, for example, plans to share the data with passengers so they can avoid a specific train.

8.40am Jobs at risk as north Wales art centre faces 'financial crisis'

Up to 50 jobs are at risk at art centre Galeri in north Wales as the site has been closed since March because of the pandemic. Galeri has told staff it may be necessary to cut hours or make redundancies to ensure the organisation's future survival. Additionally, management have said they will struggle to pay wages when the UK government's furlough scheme ends in October. 

Gwyn Roberts, chief executive of Galeri, said it has been a "very difficult situation" for the art centre, and that it is "never easy to pass on bad news and the possibility of losing jobs". She said: "I hope we are preparing for the worst possible scenario and that we don't have to take it in the long run." The centre plans to apply to the Arts Council of Wales for a contribution from the £53m fund made available to support arts organisations in the country, but Galeri will not know how much it will receive – if any – until mid-October. 

8.30am Foreign secretary urges employees to return to offices

Foreign secretary Dominic Raab warned at the weekend that home working is damaging the economy amid fears for city centre businesses. "The economy needs to have people back at work," Raab told the BBC's Andrew Marr on Sunday. He said the coronavirus lockdown had led to a "massive shrinking of the economy". Raab acknowledged there was likely to be a "bit more" remote working in future and that the return to offices could happen in "incremental stages". However, he said: "It is important to send a message that we need to get Britain back up and running, the economy motoring on all cylinders." 

Meanwhile, prominent technology investors have urged start-ups to return to offices, voicing concerns around productivity. Brent Hoberman, co-founder of the firstminute Capital investment fund, said: “I think it's going to be very detrimental if we keep people apart and we lose the team spirit and learning by osmosis that happens in offices.” Tim Levene, CEO of venture capital business Augmentum, has called on CEOs to “recognise that we cannot continue to operate as we have been these past few months”, warning of dangers to the mental health of start-up employees.

8.10am Up to 200 jobs could go at Haribo factory

About 200 jobs are at risk of being made redundant at one of Haribo's factories in Yorkshire. The sweet-maker employs 732 people at sites in Castleford and Pontefract, but declined to say how many roles were likely to be cut. However, a local councillor told the BBC that he understood about 200 jobs could be axed at the Pontefract site. 

Jon Hughes, Haribo's UK managing director, said the decision to cut jobs was designed to protect the firm's long-term future and had not been taken lightly. He said: "The UK has become a manufacturing centre of excellence in the global Haribo network. But to protect this position, we must respond to the significant rising costs and the demands of a highly competitive market." 

Friday 4 September

4.10pm Unions urge government to introduce EU-modelled short-time working scheme 

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to launch a ‘short-time working’ wage subsidy scheme, like those used in European countries, to avoid a “tsunami” of unemployment. 

The system would see cash-stricken companies receive a government subsidy for the hours a worker is away from their job. The TUC proposed a 70 per cent subsidy from the government for employers, provided they bring back every worker on the scheme for a minimum proportion of their normal working hours. Firms would need to top up workers’ pay to at least 80 per cent of normal wages for the hours they are not in work, including training. 

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC told the Guardian that “ministers cannot afford to throw away the good work of the [furlough] job retention scheme. There is still time to avoid a tsunami of unemployment.”

2.40pm Fashion retailer Jigsaw to cut 200 jobs

Fashion retailer Jigsaw will reportedly shut a quarter of its shops across the UK after it reached a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) to address the dramatic slump in sales since the start of the pandemic. The retailer, which employers almost 900 people and has 74 stores across the UK, said at least 200 roles will be made redundant as 19 stores are now set to be closed. 

Jigsaw said it was “pleased” its CVA proposal had been accepted by the majority of creditors. It added: “The arrangement puts the company on solid footing moving forwards, and allows us to execute our turnaround strategy."

1.15pm Virgin Atlantic to cut 1,150 more jobs

Virgin Atlantic said it will cut an additional 1,150 jobs after completing a £1.2bn rescue plan to ensure its future for the next 18 months. The airline has already cut more than 3,500 jobs out of the 10,000 roles it had at the beginning of 2020. The company said: "Until travel returns in greater numbers, survival is predicted on reducing costs further and continuing to preserve cash." 

It added the past six months had been the "most challenging in Virgin Atlantic's history" and "regrettably the airline must go further one last time with changes at scale, to ensure it emerges from this crisis". 

1.05pm Number of Brits working exclusively from home steadily decreasing, says ONS

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown that between 24 and 30 August, the proportion of people who said they were working exclusively from home was just 20 per cent, down from a high of 38 per cent in the middle of June. The ONS described this as a “steadily decreasing trend” over the last two months.

The data also showed the proportion of people travelling to work was increasing. More than half (57 per cent) of working adults surveyed said they had travelled to work during the same period in August: the largest proportion of respondents since the UK went into lockdown. In terms of those in work overall, three-quarters (77 per cent) of working adults said they had either commuted to a workplace or worked from home – the same proportion as the previous two weeks.

1pm How to support bereaved employees returning to the workplace

As lockdown eases, employers should bear in mind that workers who’ve suffered a bereavement might be feeling apprehensive about going back to the office, says Jean Watkins.

12.50pm Does an employer’s duty of care extend to commuting?

Helen Farr explains whether organisations have a legal obligation to ensure their staff remain safe during their journeys to and from work.

12.20pm Northern Ireland employers offered apprentice cash support 

Employers in Northern Ireland will be paid £3,700 for each apprentice that they bring back from furlough and retain until they have completed their apprenticeship. Under a new Department for the Economy (DfE) scheme, firms can also claim £3,000 for each new apprenticeship created between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021. 

Diane Dodds, economy minister for the Northern Ireland Executive, said she had also secured an additional £17.2m funding from the Northern Ireland government to help bolster local apprenticeship systems as it "battles the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic": a figure that had been supplemented with additional DfE funding. The scheme is set to begin on 1 November, when the UK-wide furlough scheme is set to end. 

12pm Co-op to create 1,000 jobs and open 50 new stores

Supermarket chain Co-op has said it is opening 50 new locations and creating 1,000 more jobs this year. The new roles are on top of the 1,000 workers the grocery chain recruited during lockdown as demand from shoppers increased. 

The Co-op said the additional roles will be spread across the new shops and 15 stores which are being enlarged. The chain currently employs approximately 55,000 workers and has 2,600 stores across the UK. 

8.10am Work begins on HS2 with a pledge to create 22,000 jobs

Construction work on the high-speed rail project HS2 officially begins today, and the companies behind the project have said they expect to create 22,000 jobs in the coming years. Transport secretary Grant Shapps said the beginning of HS2 construction marks a “major milestone in this government's ambitions to build back better from Covid-19". He added: "Shovels in the ground to deliver this new railway means thousands of jobs building the future of our country's infrastructure."

Balfour Beatty Vinci Joint Venture, HS2's main works contractor for the West Midlands, said it expects to be one of the biggest recruiters in the region over the next two years. It said up to 7,000 skilled jobs would be required to complete its section of the HS2 route, with women and under-25s the core focus for recruitment and skills. 

Thursday 3 September

2.30pm Costa Coffee warns up to 1,650 jobs are at risk of redundancy

Costa Coffee has said that up to 1,650 roles are at risk of being cut as the cafe chain looks at reducing costs in the wake of the pandemic. Costa said "high levels of uncertainty" remain as to when its trade will regain pre-pandemic levels, and it is consulting with staff to find alternative roles for those facing redundancy. It has suggested that the role of assistant store manager will be removed in branches across the UK.

Neil Lake, managing director of Costa Coffee UK and Ireland, said the decision to cut jobs was an "extremely difficult" one to make, adding: "Our baristas are the heart of the Costa business, and I am truly sorry that many now face uncertainty following today's news." 

2.10pm What is furlough fraud and how can you avoid it?

As the government’s job retention scheme starts to wind down and additional levels of complexity are introduced, more and more employers will be at risk of falling foul of the strict rules attached to the grants.

According to HMRC, claims of misuse of the system, or ‘furlough fraud’, are on the rise: as of 22 July, 6,749 reports had been submitted, and it is currently investigating 8,000 tip offs made to its hotline. 

But what exactly constitutes furlough fraud, and how can employers make sure they stay on the right side of the law? People Management asked legal experts to explain.

1.45pm How should HR approach post-lockdown commuting?

For a number of weeks, employers have been facing pressure on many fronts to start bringing employees back to the workplace. But numerous polls have suggested many office workers are not ready to come back – with the prospect of commuting one of the largest barriers, and businesses and the government have been urged not to compel staff to return to the workplace. 

But for those organisations that feel the time is right, what can HR do to ensure health and safety is prioritised as people start to commute again?

12pm Amazon bucks retail downturn by increasing UK workforce 

Online retailer Amazon has said it will create 7,000 UK jobs this year to meet growing order demands due to coronavirus. Having already added 3,000 roles so far in 2020, the recent recruitment drive will up the total of new jobs to 10,000, taking its total permanent UK workforce to more than 40,000. 

A change in consumer behaviour instigated by Covid lockdowns has seen Amazon benefit from an influx of online orders, with its online sales figures from July 50 per cent higher than that of pre-pandemic levels in February. 

Business secretary Alok Sharma told the BBC the pandemic had been a "challenging time for many businesses" but that the new Amazon jobs were "hugely encouraging".

11.50am After Covid, sharing data will be key to improving wellbeing

With a mental health crisis on the horizon, organisations must work together to define best practice around employee health, argues Eugene Farrell.

11.40am Supporting workers’ mental health during Covid

Richard Brown and Mariella Nigrelli explain employers’ obligations in preventing and managing psychological wellbeing issues among their staff.

9.20am High street bosses call for a return to the office

A number of high street CEOs, including those of Pizza Express, Caffè Nero and Marriott Hotels have written to the prime minister to warn that many businesses face an “existential threat” if office workers don’t start returning to the workplace, the Daily Mail has reported.

In the letter, collated by Hospitality UK and supported by the British Retail Consortium, the retail bosses said that half a million workers came to central London every day before the coronavirus crisis, but that many employers have no immediate plans to return to the office. “'This has existential risks for businesses in hospitality and its supply chain, as well as retail, leisure and entertainment, which combined employ around 20 per cent of Londoners,” the letter said.

The letter echoes previous warnings from owners of office space and business groups including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which previously warned commercial centres could become “ghost towns” if office workers did not return.

7.30am Heathrow seeks pay cuts

Heathrow Airport has told unions it will seek pay cuts for thousands of workers because of the collapse of air travel during the pandemic. The airport is looking for pay cuts of 15 to 20 per cent, affecting about half of the airport's 4,700 engineering, airside operations and security staff. 

This follows yesterday’s warning that 1,200 jobs could be cut if no agreement between the airport and unions were made.

Wednesday 2 September

5.20pm Don’t expect ‘sharp return’ to the office, warns senior Bank of England official 

A senior Bank of England official has said a swift return to the workplace will not be possible, the BBC has reported. Giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee, Alex Brazier, the central bank’s executive director for financial stability, told MPs that a “sharp return” to the office environment should not be expected and that a more phased approach should be taken.

“It's not possible to use office space, particularly in central London and dense places like that, with the intensity that we used to use it,” Brazier said, adding that while he felt safe returning to the office, he could “quite understand” why many others might not.

4.30pm Quarter of Heathrow jobs at risk as union talks stall

Heathrow Airport could cut more than 1,200 jobs – around a quarter of its total workforce – after discussions with trade unions failed to reach an agreement.

According to Sky News, the airport reportedly issued a consultation notice this afternoon (2 September) on 4,700 operational roles, including security, airside operations and engineering. 

The news follows Heathrow’s baggage handling contractor Swissport’s announcement back in June that it was consulting on cutting more than 4,500 jobs across several UK airports, as well as Heathrow-based British Airways’ report the same month that it was consulting on the potential loss of 12,000 jobs.

2.30pm Eden Project to cut 169 jobs

The Eden Project has said a total of 169 roles will be made redundant due to the impact of the pandemic. In July, the Cornwall-based visitor attraction said it expected more than 220 jobs to go after it lost more than £7m this financial year. Managers for the centre said the cuts will affect 122 full time and 37 part-time roles across all areas of operations.

David Harland, executive director of the Eden Project, said the restructure was to ensure the attraction could continue running, and without it, it “would not have survived". He added: "We are gutted that we are losing 169 brilliant people as a result of it." The project also expected to see "further heavy losses" for the remainder of the year. 

1.40pm Coach industry warns 27,000 jobs at risk without government support

Almost 27,000 jobs could be at risk of redundancy in the UK coach industry by 2021 unless the government provides extra support, a sector body has warned. In a letter to tourism minister Nigel Huddleston, the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) said that, with bookings and travel not expected to return to pre-pandemic levels until next summer, coach firms are in a "fight for [their] future". The CPT said two in five (40 per cent) organisations in the tourism industry could be out of business by next April unless extra support is given. 

Alison Edwards, policy chief at CPT, said allowing the coach travel sector to collapse would be a "dereliction of duty from the government". She said: "The sector is vital to the continued growth of UK tourism by ensuring that millions of people can visit attractions across the UK each year. Without support for coach travel, we are risking not just the future of the sector, but jobs across the tourism industry as people struggle to travel to days out."

1.30pm Schools reopening won’t mean a return to business as usual, firms told

Employers have been warned not to expect the return of children to schools to mark a return to business as usual, as ministers hail the start of the academic year as a milestone on the path to recovery.

Millions of pupils will be returning to classrooms in England and Wales this week after an unprecedented shutdown because of the outbreak – one that forced many parents to change their working hours, use holiday, take unpaid leave or even go on furlough to provide childcare and homeschooling. 

Many parents have welcomed the reopening of schools, with a poll of 500 parents by Yoopies finding 76 per cent were in favour of sending children back in September. Gavin Williamson, education secretary, told MPs in parliament yesterday (1 September) that reopening schools would be a “massive milestone” for the country. 

1.25pm Why forcing people back to the office is a stupid idea

The UK government has launched a campaign encouraging people to return to workplaces, but there are at least five reasons this makes no sense, says Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.

1.20pm The legalities of face coverings in the workplace

Nick Wilson provides advice for employers in light of ever-changing guidance around wearing masks at work. 

1.15pm Coronavirus having severe impact on young people’s mental health

The economic and social impact of the coronavirus outbreak is having a severe effect on the mental health of young people, with those aged between 12 and 24 affected the most. A report by The Health Foundation found that compared to 2017-18, people in this age group were more likely to report being unhappy or depressed, having trouble concentrating and a loss of sleep – with those out of work twice as likely to suffer from a mental health problem than young people with a job.

1pm More than 16,000 jobs at risk in the community leisure sector, according to poll

More than 16,000 jobs are at risk among not-for-profit organisations that run local leisure services, according to research. A survey carried out by Community Leisure UK (CLUK) – which represents charities, societies and community interest companies providing leisure, sport and cultural services – found 26 per cent of the contracted workforce was at risk of being made redundant because of the effects of the pandemic on the industry. This is equivalent to almost 7,000 jobs.

The survey also found a further 9,200 casual roles were under threat because of the pandemic. CLUK said these potential job losses were in addition to more than 6,000 contracted and casual workers who had already been made redundant or who had not been offered work. 

12.45pm Financial services firms planning gradual office returns

City of London companies are not planning a rush back to offices despite ministers urging people to get back to their desks, according to The Daily Telegraph, with financial services companies saying they expect their offices to stay largely empty this month.

The newspaper said Aviva was preparing for 10 per cent of City staff to return to the office this month, while JPMorgan was planning for around 30 per cent of its 12,000 London workers to return next week. PwC is aiming to be operating at 50 per cent of its pre-pandemic capacity by the end of September, while KPMG, which currently has capacity for 30 per cent of its workforce to return to its London base, hopes to have 60 per cent back by the end of October.

Barclays and HSBC have said many staff won't be expected back in London offices before October, while Standard Life Aberdeen and NatWest have told workers to stay home until 2021. Schroders has told staff they will never again have to spend five days a week in the office.

12.30pm PM claims ‘huge numbers’ have returned to work but TfL figures suggest otherwise

Prime minister Boris Johnson has claimed that “huge numbers” of people returned to work yesterday (1 September), despite data suggesting a large proportion of staff are still working from home. In pre-recorded remarks, Johnson told his weekly cabinet meeting that offices were seeing a marked uptick in the number of workers returning, according to the Financial Times. “People are going back to the office in huge numbers across our country – and quite right, too,” he said.

However, figures from Transport for London suggested the number of passengers taking the underground on Tuesday morning – the first working day after the August bank holiday – was still down by 72 per cent compared with a year earlier.

9.15am Hospital warns staff who refuse to wear masks may miss out on pay

NHS staff who need to self-isolate for two weeks because of coronavirus will not be paid during this period if they had previously refused to wear a mask at work, employees at a hospital trust have been told. The Telegraph has reported that in an email to staff, Lesley Watts, chief executive of the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust in London, said: "If you are sent home to isolate for two weeks because you have not worn a mask, I am informing you now that you will be required to take this as annual or unpaid leave."  

Workers at the trust were also warned they could face disciplinaries for not wearing a mask in situations where they might be putting patients or colleagues at risk.

9am Government opens Kickstart scheme to applications

From today businesses will be able to apply for grants to help pay for work placements for young people through the government’s Kickstart scheme. Under the scheme, worth £2bn, the government will cover the wages of traineeships offered to any young person aged 16 to 24 and on universal credit for six months, up to the cost of the relevant national minimum wage. Employers will also be able to apply for grants of £1,500 to help pay for the costs of providing the placement.

Thérèse Coffey, secretary of state for work and pensions, said: “There is no limit on the number of opportunities we’ll open up through Kickstart and we’ll fund each one for six months as part of our [plan to] create, support and protect jobs.”

Monday 1 September

3.20pm Capita to close more than a third of offices permanently 

Capita is to close more than a third of its offices in the UK for good, according to a report by the BBC, with the outsourcing firm planning to end leases for almost 100 workspaces. So far Capita has not renewed leases at 25 offices, the BBC reported.

A spokesperson for Capita told the broadcaster it was committed to letting its 45,000 employees continue to work in offices spread across the UK, but it would be adapting the business for the future – which would include increased numbers of staff working remotely.

"Following dialogue with our employees it has become very clear that they would like to work in a more flexible way, which will involve increased working from home, but they will still spend a significant amount of their time working from offices that are based in the heart of our local communities," the spokesperson said.

1.50pm Shaw Trust to recruit more than 600 new workers

Employability charity Shaw Trust announced plans to recruit more than 600 employees to meet growing demand for its services in the wake of the pandemic. The charity said it was planning to grow its workforce by 25 per cent over the next year. Shaw Trust, which specialises in helping young people and adults into work, currently has 2,500 workers and 1,000 volunteers.

In a statement, the charity said its local and national programmes needed to be expanded in response to the surge of redundancies caused by the pandemic. The roles will be a mix of full and part-time working arrangements, and will be based around England. 

1.40pm Scottish government to announce 'national mission to create jobs'

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon is to announce a national "mission to create jobs" as part of the country’s plan to recover from the coronavirus outbreak in her annual statement setting out her legislative programme for the year ahead. Speaking ahead of the announcement, Sturgeon said the plan would "create new, green jobs across Scotland with fair pay and good conditions".

Sturgeon is also expected to prioritise jobs and training for young Scots in this upcoming programme, and will announce a ‘youth guarantee’ to keep young people in work and a programme to retrain people to work in new sectors.

The first minister added: "[It is the] single most important thing that we, as a nation, can do to allow our economy to continue to open up safely.”

1.30 Four-day week could create 500,000 new jobs, says think tank

A four-day working week could create up to half a million new jobs, limiting the rise of unemployment expected as the government’s furlough scheme winds down, a think tank has said. The research, by think tank Autonomy, said it would be possible for public sector workers to move to a 32-hour week with no loss of pay, and that doing so could create between 300,000 and 500,000 new full-time equivalent jobs in the sector to make up for the shorter hours. The current average full-time public sector worker puts in 36.4 hours a week.

It estimated that the gross cost of the extra employees would equate to £17.6bn a year, working off the higher estimate of 500,000 new jobs. But, the report said, once efficiency gains had been taken into account – including a reduction in the amount of sick leave taken because of stress and burnout – the net cost would be between £5.4bn and £9bn a year, with the latter estimate reflecting an increase of just 6 per cent in the total public sector salary bill.

1.15pm Government urged not to pressurise staff back into offices

The government has been urged not to pressure employees to return to the workplace before they are ready, as it prepares to launch a campaign later this week encouraging staff to go back to their offices. The Cabinet Office is expected to launch an advertising campaign this week urging employers to reassure staff it is safe to return and highlighting workplace safety measures they’ve taken to halt the spread of the virus. 

Ministers will also reportedly emphasise the negatives of working from home, warning that workers were more vulnerable to redundancy if not at their desks. A government source told The Telegraph: "People need to understand that working from home isn't the benign option it seems. We need workers to be alert to what decisions their bosses may take in the weeks ahead. If they are only seeing workers once a fortnight then that could prove problematic for some employees in the future.

However, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said employees should not be forced into going back to the office. Responding to the planned launch of the campaign, Cheese said: "The government’s drive for individuals to return to their workplace should not leave them feeling pressured or duty-bound to do so."

1.05pm Eight West Midlands Asda workers test positive for coronavirus 

Eight workers at the Cape Hill, Smethwick, branch of Asda have tested positive for coronavirus, the supermarket said. The employees are now self-isolating and a “comprehensive deep clean” has taken place.

A spokesperson for Sandwell Council confirmed to the BBC that no delivery drivers have been infected and the shop remains open. A statement from the retailer said when positive tests were confirmed it notified Public Health England and the council, and had ordered a deep clean as well as introducing “additional cleaning”. 

12.10pm Domestic violence: how firms can address the ‘shadow pandemic’

Recognising abuse remotely is challenging and makes regular interactions with your team even more important, say Justine Campbell and Paul Quinlan.

12pm Employers begin paying 10 per cent of furloughed worker salaries as scheme winds down

Companies using the coronavirus job retention scheme will have to start contributing at least 10 per cent of furloughed employees wages as of today as the government begins to wind the scheme down. The government’s contribution to the scheme will also drop from 80 to 70 per cent of furloughed staff’s wages. 

As of the beginning of last month, employers were already paying furloughed employees’ national insurance and pension contributions. However, Craig Beaumont of the Federation of Small Businesses raised concerns about the additional financial impact this latest change would have on SMEs, telling the BBC that 23 per cent of SMEs were considering reducing their headcount in the next three months. 

Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, added she expected economic recovery to “lose momentum” when the scheme eventually comes to an end next month. “The government's job retention scheme has been masking the damage wreaked by the pandemic on jobs and the wider economy,” she said.

10.40am Employers can tell staff to cancel holiday, legal experts say

Businesses are within their rights to tell staff to cancel their holiday plans if going will mean they are required to quarantine for two weeks upon their return and they are unable to work remotely, a legal expert has said.

Speaking to The Telegraph, Jennifer Smith, partner at JMW Solicitors, said: “Employers that can’t manage workflow without a specific employee for the length of their proposed holiday plus a 14-day quarantine period might be able to revoke holiday approval. This is arguably a clear business reason.”

Smith added that employers had the right to revoke annual leave so long as the notice given was the same number of days as the length of holiday.

9.30am Three-day season tickets discussed by government and rail firms 

The UK government is to try and lure office workers back to their desks with three-day season tickets, according to The Telegraph. Rail firms are coming up with new types of ticketing to better suit employees who will be continuing with flexible working arrangements. A rail industry source said: “Trains are operating at a fraction of capacity at the moment and although there is a cost implication to offering part-time season tickets, it is better to have fare-paying passengers three days a week than no days a week.” An announcement on new types of ticketing could be made this week as part of a fresh push by prime minister Boris Johnson to get people back to the office.

9.15am Four-day week could create 500,000 new UK jobs, report says

A move to a four-day week in the UK public sector would create up to half a million new jobs and help limit an expected increase in unemployment as the government’s furlough scheme is wound down, according to research by think tank Autonomy. The report said it would be possible for public sector workers to go on to a 32-hour week with no loss of pay, calculating that such a move would cost between £5.4bn and £9bn a year. 

Will Stronge, Autonomy’s research director, said: “To help tackle the unemployment crisis we are facing this winter, a four-day week is the best option for sharing work more equally across the economy and creating much-needed new jobs.” He added that the move would “boost productivity, create new jobs and make us all much happier and healthier”. Bank of England forecasts suggest that the jobless rate in the UK will rise from just under 4 per cent to 7.5 per cent by the end of the year.

9am Low demand for office workers fuels 'asymmetric recovery’ of jobs market

Demand for office workers in the UK is lagging behind other types of work, according to data that suggests the labour market is undergoing an ‘asymmetric recovery’. The proportion of workers being hired by industries that mainly employ people in so-called white-collar roles – such as media, software and finance – has lagged behind other sectors despite the gradual return to workplaces, according to data from LinkedIn. The new job rate for workers in transport and logistics has risen by 18 per cent year on year, and new jobs in healthcare and construction are up by 12 per cent and 9 per cent respectively. However, the rate of new jobs in software or IT companies is down by 9 per cent year on year, while the rate of new jobs in media is 17 per cent lower than last year.

Friday 28 August

5.20pm Scottish government will not follow English return to work campaign 

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she will “not countenance” any campaign to encourage workers back to the office, according to The Scotsman. With UK ministers reportedly planning a widespread advertising campaign encouraging workers back to the office, arguing that employees not returning to work would put themselves at risk of redundancy, Sturgeon has declared she will not follow the same course of action. 

She said: “I will not countenance in Scotland any kind of narrative around this that is seeking almost to intimidate people back to work before as a country we have taken the decision that that is safe.

"People should not be told if you don’t get back to work in an office right now, if you are still working from home, you might be at greater risk of being made redundant or sacked, I don’t think that is the kind of approach we want to take here.”

3pm New government campaign will encourage employees back to work 

In an advertising campaign expected to launch next week, the government will emphasise the benefits of returning to workplaces alongside encouraging businesses to make their premises Covid-secure. 

Speaking to Sky News, transport secretary Grant Shapps said: "What we're saying to people is it is now safe to go back. Your employer should have made arrangements which are appropriate to make sure it is coronavirus-safe to work. You will see some changes, if you haven't been in for a bit, as a result."

1.25pm Handling disciplinaries and grievances in the age of coronavirus

As your business continues to adapt to remote working, disciplinary and grievance procedures may be the last thing on your mind. However, even employees working from home can act inappropriately, which can lead to disciplinaries and grievances. Mary Goldsbrough explains what systems businesses should have in place to successfully manage performance issues remotely.

1.10pm How to handle high numbers of job applications

Examples of hugely inflated numbers of hopeful candidates have been appearing in the media since widespread redundancies began occurring, with the situation further exacerbated by the imminent winding down of the furlough scheme in October. It may signal good news for those looking for a new hire, but it could also prove to be an overwhelming task for unprepared employers.

People Management looks at what HR can do to make the process as smooth as possible.

1pm Majority of public in favour of continued home working, poll finds

A YouGov survey of 2,592 British adults found just under a third (31 per cent) thought that businesses who have had staff working from home during the coronavirus outbreak should now start asking them to return to the office. In comparison, 41 per cent of respondents said workers should not be encouraged to return, while 22 per cent said they were unsure.

The figures come a day after Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), urged UK businesses to bring staff back to the office or risk turning commercial centres into “ghost towns”. “The UK’s offices are vital drivers of our economy. They support thousands of local firms, from dry cleaners to sandwich bars… Some of our busiest city centres resemble ghost towns, missing the usual bustle of passing trade,” she said.

9.40am Health minister has ‘no idea’ how many department staff are working from home

The health minister, Matt Hancock, has said he has “no idea” how many of his staff are working from home, saying all that matters is that they are performing effectively. Speaking on Times Radio yesterday, Hancock said “What I care about is how effectively people work and obviously people should come back to the office if that is what they need to do their job.”

Hancock added that it was up to employers to make sure their workplaces were Covid secure, but went on to say: “But what I care about is that people perform and so the people I work with, some of them have been working from home, some come in sometimes, some are in full-time, and what matters to me is that they deliver and, frankly, they’ve been delivering at an unbelievable rate.”

His comments appear to be a break from the government’s usual line to encourage people to return to the office amid increased fears from business groups that a lack of footfall could do lasting damage to businesses in commercial centres reliant on office workers.

9.30am Coffee chain Pret to cut 3,000 jobs

Pret a Manger is to make 3,000 jobs – more than a third of its workforce – redundant, the BBC has reported. The coffee shop chain has said most of the job cuts would be made in its stores, which have been badly hit by the drop in the number of  commuters and office workers caused by lockdown. It said 90 roles would also be lost at its support centres.

Pano Christou, the firm’s CEO, said: “Although we're now starting to see a steady but slow recovery, the pandemic has taken away almost a decade of growth at Pret.” He added that the firm had managed to protect many jobs by making changes to the way shops are run and the hours staff are asked to work.

Pret had previously announced it would be closing 30 stores permanently because of the outbreak.

Thursday 27 August

5pm Poultry plant workers self-isolating following outbreak 

At least 350 people and their households will have to self-isolate after 75 Norfolk poultry plant workers tested positive for coronavirus. The Banham Poultry site has been partially closed and all staff who worked in the cutting area of the factory are now in self-isolation after seven workers caught the virus from an unknown source. 

The number of infected workers reached 46 by Wednesday and further tests revealed a total of 75, with one worker being admitted to hospital. Other areas of the plant are to remain open, but the outbreak is due to be reviewed by the government today, according to the BBC. A deep clean of the affected area is now underway, however the plant, which employs 1,100 people, remains open for production. 

1.40pm What would a second Covid-19 wave mean for HR?

The spectre of a second national spike still looms large over employers and, while firms are arguably more prepared than they were the first time round, another lockdown and the uncertainty that brings would not be without its challenges. What would happen, for example, to the furlough scheme – ministers have already ruled out any extension past its planned end date in October.

People Management spoke to industry experts to find out what a second wave could mean for HR departments, and what they can do to prepare now.

1pm Half of employees reluctant to return to work despite firms spending millions on preparation, poll reveals 

More than half of workers are still reluctant to return to the office over fears they might contract coronavirus, despite employers spending hundreds of millions of pounds per month in an attempt to make workplaces ‘Covid secure’, a study has found.

A poll of 5,000 UK workers and 2,000 employers conducted by Huma found more than half (54 per cent) of workers were still reluctant to return to work because of concerns they could catch the virus. This is in spite of employers collectively spending £674m a month on preparations to return their staff to the workplace, according to the research, including new hygiene protocols, purchasing PPE and changing office layouts to aid social distancing – equating to an average of £58.55 per month per employee. HR consultant Gemma Bullivant said the return to the workplace was creating “one of the most complex [health and safety] challenges” ever faced, and this was placing additional pressure on the HR profession.

11am Has coronavirus caused a rise in protected disclosures?

Whistleblowing for Covid-19 health and safety breaches are becoming a growing legal and reputational risk for employers, as Paida Dube explains

9.15am Low-paid workers to get government support to self-isolate

Workers in low-income parts of England who are unable to work from home and have been asked to self-isolate will be able to claim up to £182 a week in financial support as part of a new government scheme.

The scheme, which will be piloted in Blackburn with Darwen, Pendle and Oldham, will allow eligible individuals who test positive for the virus to claim up to £130 to cover their-10 day self-isolation. Eligible members of their household will also be able to claim £182 for their two weeks self-isolation, while contacts who are not part of the infected individual’s household will be able to claim £13 a day to a maximum of £182.

Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said the scheme would “help people on low incomes and who are unable to work from home to continue playing their part in the national fight against this virus”. However, critics, including the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, have said the payments go nowhere near far enough to support those unable to work because they are self-isolating.

Wednesday 26 August

5.10pm Gatwick Airport to cut a quarter of workforce

Gatwick Airport plans to axe 600 of its workforce, its chief executive has announced, after an 80 per cent reduction in passenger numbers. Stewart Wingate blamed the “devastating impacts” that coronavirus had had on the travel industry.

This follows a cut of 200 jobs announced back in March.

According to the BBC, around three-quarters of staff are currently on furlough, with the airport currently running at just a fifth of its usual capacity for August.

5pm Linklaters staff will work remotely up to half the time after Covid

Law firm Linklaters has rolled out a new global agile working policy that will allow employees to work remotely up to 50 per cent of the time, even after the coronavirus pandemic has abated. Other kinds of flexible and agile working are also being discussed, including flexible start and finish times, modifying daily ‘core’ hours, and modifying hours to allow for commitments outside of work. 

Andrea Arosio, managing partner in Italy and member of Linklaters’ global people committee, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic and our enforced remote working experiment has given us an opportunity to take stock and revisit how we approach agile and remote working. Our recent experience has demonstrated that, while we are a people-focused business and collaboration is key, remote working has worked remarkably well and we can deliver high quality work whilst working remotely.” 

Meanwhile, JP Morgan has told staff in London and on Wall Street that they can continue to work remotely on a part-time basis. Daniel Pinto, head of JP Morgan's investment banking arm, told CNBC that staff will in future cycle between office-based shifts and home working.

3pm Hundreds to lose jobs at Mini car factory in Oxford

BMW-owned Mini is set to cut 400 of its 950 onsite agency staff at its Oxford factory, as well as a “small amount” of core staff. A substantial fall in customer demand during lockdown has informed the decision at the Cowley plant. The firm will move from a three-shift pattern to two shifts in mid-October while operating five days a week. The agency personnel affected, employed by Gi Group, will be kept on according to criteria such as length of service, individual skills and disciplinary records, with decisions finalised in mid-September. The company will also reduce the number of core employees and consider voluntary redundancies and early retirement. HR director Bob Shankly told the BBC the decision was made "after close discussion with trade union representatives. He added the business was “aware that [its] plans will have an impact on people during an uncertain and worrying time”. 

1.30pm Employees switching occupations and entire industries amid Covid upheaval, data shows

The number of employees switching occupations is up on last year as a result of the impact of coronavirus on the economy, official data has revealed. In the first half of this year, 6.1 per cent of employees changed occupations, compared to 5.7 per cent over the same period last year, according to research from the Office for National Statistics. More than half (52.5 per cent) of those who changed occupation also switched industries entirely. 

Kirstie Donnelly, chief executive of City & Guilds Group, agreed the data hinted at a shift that would likely become much more pronounced in the coming months. “While the increase is limited, it is interesting to see that just over half of those workers who switched occupations went into completely different sectors from their main industry – we expect that this a sign of what’s to come, in particular as the furlough scheme draws to a close,” she said. 

1.15pm  How should HR deal with requests to ‘home work’ from overseas?

Steven Cochrane and Andrew Quayle explain the key legal points businesses must consider if an employee wants to work remotely when abroad.

11.40am Most employers have no plans to return staff to the office full time, BBC research finds

The BBC has reported that 50 of the UK’s biggest employers have no plans to return all staff to the office full time in the near future. The report by the BBC showed that 24 firms had no plans whatsoever to return workers to the office, but 20 had opened up the workplace for staff unable to work from home. 

The sample of businesses, which ranged from banks to retailers, cited their main reason for not returning workers as being unable to “see a way of accommodating large numbers of staff while social distancing regulations were still in place”. Major firms such as Facebook have said they do not plan to return employees until July 2021. The BBC reported some smaller businesses were going even further, reporting that a Birmingham-based PR agency had decided to abandon its offices altogether. 

9am Recruitment firms predict drop in incomes

A majority (80 per cent) of recruitment companies expect a fall in full-year income in 2020-21 as a result of the coronavirus crisis, a survey by HSBC’s professional services team has found. HSBC UK’s head of professional services, Chloe Clift, said: “Recruitment does tend to be a great barometer of what’s happening in the wider economy. It is not surprising they were hit hard very quickly. 

“November and March and the furlough scheme coming to an end will be pinch points not just for recruitment but for the entire economy, and it will be interesting to see how resilient those companies remain when they have to start bringing back workers and fronting that full cost themselves.”

8.30am Civil servants reluctant to return to the office

A majority of UK civil servants are expected to continue working from home until at least the end of the year, according to officials and trade unions, in a blow to Boris Johnson’s attempts to revive ailing city centres. Downing Street had previously called on civil servants to set an example to other office workers by coming back to their desks from mid-July. But Dave Penman, head of the FDA union, told the Financial Times the government had realised it was difficult to persuade some officials to return following a spate of Covid-19 outbreaks and local lockdowns across the UK. “In most [government] departments the numbers [of civil servants returning to the office] are steadily going up but it’s not going to be huge numbers, it’s not going to be a majority [by the end of the year] – we’ll probably get to 30 or 40 per cent over time,” he said. “Politically [ministers] have realised they have missed the boat on this when you’ve got a series of local interventions because of rising infection rates… trying to force civil servants to go in is not going to be helpful.”

Tuesday 25 August

5pm Co-op Bank to axe 350 jobs

The Co-operative Bank has said it will cut 350 jobs and close 18 branches as a result of the current "economic uncertainty" and the shift to online banking. As well as jobs lost from branch closures, the cuts also include middle management and head office roles. The bank said that, where possible, it would look to redeploy colleagues. The Co-op Bank's chief executive, Andrew Bester, said he was "very sorry" for the cuts, which he also blamed on the current record low interest rates. "We're not immune to the impact of recent events, with the historically low base rate affecting the income of all banks and a period of prolonged economic uncertainty ahead, which means it's important we reduce costs and have the right-sized operating model in place for the future," he said.      

4.45pm UK retailers cutting jobs at fastest rate since 2009, research finds

Retailers cut jobs during the year to August at the fastest rate since 2009, with an even sharper decline anticipated for the figures to September, according to a CBI survey. Its monthly distributive trades survey found the outlook was expected to deteriorate in the autumn after more than half of retailers said they expected to reduce the number of employees in the next three months. 

The survey featured 63 retailers among its 128 respondents and found the balance of employers saying they would reduce their headcount was -20 in May before weakening to -45 in August and -52 for the three months to November. Alpesh Paleja, the CBI’s lead economist, said: “The furlough scheme has proved effective at insulating workers and businesses in some of the worst-hit sectors during the pandemic, but these findings reinforce fears that many job losses have been delayed rather than avoided.

4.30pm Exclusive data on returning staff to the office: how do you compare?

Boris Johnson’s plans to encourage more people back into the workplace have met a mixed response. The prime minister had hoped that, by putting the onus on to employers for deciding whether it was safe to ask staff to return in England, organisations would start to get back to normal.

Despite the controversy that Johnson’s decision caused, a poll of HR professionals, conducted by People Management, found the majority welcomed being given the freedom to choose. So when do employers anticipate asking staff to return to offices? And how do they intend to keep them safe? People Management’s exclusive data reveals...

1pm Employer support on alcohol and drug misuse lacking, report finds

Research from the CIPD has revealed that people are drinking more during the pandemic but many businesses don’t offer employees proactive support on drug and alcohol misuse.

Only 27 per cent of employers provided information for staff on how to disclose a problem with alcohol or drugs, according to the CIPD’s Managing drug and alcohol misuse at work report. The survey of almost 800 HR decision-makers found only a quarter (26 per cent) of businesses trained managers to recognise the symptoms of drug and alcohol problems.

“The coronavirus pandemic and the current period of economic uncertainty could make people feel more anxious or vulnerable, which has led to concern about whether people may be more likely to use alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism,” said Jill Miller, senior policy adviser at the CIPD.

12.15pm Staying GDPR compliant during Covid-19

The crisis has raised questions around whether firms can ask for information on symptoms and diagnoses, and whether they can store this data. Amanda Beaumont advises.

12pm What Covid has taught us about culture – and what needs to change

The pandemic has amplified the gap between more and less adaptive workplaces, but turning things around may prove difficult even where the case is clear, says Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.

11am NHS risks losing female staff to stress and exhaustion as a result of Covid, survey finds

A survey of 1,300 women working across health and care in England has found that almost three-quarters (72 per cent) felt their job had a greater negative impact than usual on their emotional wellbeing as a result of the pandemic, and more than half (52 per cent) had suffered a negative impact on their physical health. 

The study, carried out by the NHS Confederation’s Health and Care Women Leaders Network, has raised concerns of burnout across the sector. Samantha Allen, chair of the network and chief executive of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said the results “hammer[ed] home” the toll of the pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of female staff. “Now more than ever, women across health and care must have access to the right support,” said Allen. 

10.30am Government to urge employers to roll out workplace Covid tests

The UK government is urging employees who want to return to the workplace to put pressure on their bosses to make sure their work environment is safe. It has said businesses have an obligation to offer staff ‘Covid-secure workplaces’ if they cannot work from home. 

The government is also set to urge companies to launch regular workplace testing. Meetings have been taking place between business leaders and Whitehall officials over how to ramp up the use of mobile testing units in factories and offices around the country. Some employers could be allowed to stay open even if there are fresh local lockdowns in their area if they are conducting regular testing of their staff, according to the Financial Times. But the British Chambers of Commerce and the Institute of Directors raised concerns about costs, particularly for smaller businesses. At present, each standard test costs about £100, which is why only a handful of wealthy companies – such as Formula One, the Premier League and some City of London employers – have introduced regular staff tests.

9.15am UK workers most reluctant to return to the office

UK workers are the most reluctant to return to the office, a survey of 8,000 adults from eight countries by ManpowerGroup has found. US workers were also noticeably reluctant to go back to the office amid fears of a second wave of infection. Seventy-three per cent of the workforce had negative feelings about returning to the workplace in the UK and US, compared to 54 per cent in Germany and 56 per cent in Italy. 

Chris Gray, UK director of ManpowerGroup, said: "Many offices across the UK have returned throughout the summer, in slightly less capacity than before, but we're hearing every day that people are keen to get back in some way to the workplace. What is key for employers is to find the balance and not paint all employees with a broad-brush; just as many individuals who want more remote working would like it with the option of a physical workplace a few days a week."

9am Arcadia proposes to base notice pay on furlough rate rather than normal salary

Arcadia Group is proposing to base some workers’ notice pay on their furlough earnings instead of their full salary – a potential breach of employment law in its redundancy terms. The company, which owns Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Evans, Wallis, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, is making up to 500 head office staff redundant. While some of those workers will receive full notice pay, furloughed workers who are contractually owed more than the government’s statutory minimum have been told that their payments will be based on the 80 per cent of pay they received on the scheme. Statutory notice pay is equivalent to one week’s pay for staff with fewer than two years’ service, and a further one week’s pay for every year worked after that, up to a total of 12 weeks’ pay.

Arcadia’s plans come weeks after the government rushed through legislation intended to prevent this. A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “We urge businesses to do right by their employees and pay staff what they are rightly entitled to. Those who do not could find themselves in front of an employment tribunal.” In a letter to workers seen by the Guardian, Arcadia acknowledged there were “differing views in the circumstances” on basing notice pay on furlough rates, but said that, based on the latest guidance and its own legal advice, it was confident it was acting lawfully, fairly and reasonably.

8.45am Businesses and CIPD commit to prioritising mental health post Covid

Thirty-three companies have pledged to prioritise mental health as employees in the UK return to work. An open letter detailing the commitment was signed by Unilever, Barclays, Lloyds, Morgan Stanley, Santander, the CIPD, Deloitte UK, Edelman and Eversheds Sutherland among others following research by Mind that showed more than a third of workers were struggling. The letter was also backed by the CBI and the Federation of Small Businesses. “The coronavirus pandemic is having a huge impact on the mental health of UK employees... Employers need to prioritise psychological safety as well as physical safety,” the letter said.

Monday 24 August

2pm Tesco to create 16,000 permanent roles citing increase in online deliveries

Tesco has said it will create 16,000 permanent roles, citing an increase in its online delivery business during the pandemic. The retailer said it would first offer these positions to the temporary workers taken on at the start of the outbreak when demand for online services suddenly spiked, and that it expected the majority of these new roles to be filled by temp workers who now want a permanent position.

The new roles include 10,000 pickers who will assemble customer orders and 3,000 delivery drivers. Jason Tarry, CEO of Tesco, said the store had more than doubled its online capacity and was now serving nearly 1.5 million online customers a week. “These new roles will help us continue to meet online demand for the long term, and will create permanent employment opportunities for 16,000 people across the UK.”

Tesco has also said it plans to offer 1,000 young people roles as part of the government’s kickstart scheme, but said the details of this were still being finalised.

1.30pm Six million furloughed staff continued to work from home, study suggests

A major academic paper has found that nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of furloughed employees have admitted to continuing to work from home while on the job retention scheme, with many explicitly asked to do so by their employer.

The study, by academics from the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Zurich, used real-time survey evidence of UK workers between April and May and found that prohibition against working while on furlough was ‘routinely ignored’, with furloughed staff working an average of 15 hours per week. Men on higher incomes were most likely to flout the terms of the scheme.

Nearly one in five furloughed workers (19 per cent) reported being explicitly asked to work by their employer despite this being against the rules of the scheme. This increased to 44 per cent among those working in computer and mathematical occupations, and 35 per cent of workers in the IT sector.

1pm Lockdown has shown some people processes can be abandoned – but not all

Several standard HR activities haven’t been missed by the business during Covid-19, says Graham Salisbury, but others should be maintained to avoid issues long term.

9.30am Permanent remote working plans shrink demand for office space

Vacancy rates at City of London office buildings will rise from 6.5 per cent this year to 7.2 per cent next year, before peaking at 8 per cent in 2022, estate agency Savills has predicted.  The forecast comes as businesses shrink their headquarters in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic in response to workers proving they can work from home productively. Many companies have already announced a permanent change to higher levels of remote working. PwC has said most of its 22,000 UK staff will work flexibly after the pandemic and KPMG has announced staff will be allowed to spend part of the week working remotely permanently. Anna Purchas, head of people at KPMG UK, said: "This is a chance to break free from engrained, traditional routines, and say goodbye to presenteeism.” 

9am Job losses will worsen regional inequality, warns Labour

Job losses triggered by the coronavirus pandemic will hurt some parts of the UK more than others and deepen regional inequality, Labour has said. It said its analysis of official data showed that more than 10 per cent of the workforce in north west England was employed in retail – the highest proportion in the UK, followed by Wales and the north east. Almost 13 per cent of the East Midlands workforce was employed in manufacturing, it said. Meanwhile, the report said London was likely to be worst affected by redundancies in aviation and travel – sectors that previously employed more than 60,000 people. Labour said the figures suggested the government's blanket approach to ending the furlough scheme risked worsening regional inequality.

8.30am Covid crisis could claim 18 per cent of travel sector jobs, says Abta 

The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) has said 39,000 people in the UK travel industry had already lost their jobs or been told their role was at risk, representing about 18 per cent of the sector’s jobs, warning that thousands more tour operators, travel agents and airline jobs could be lost. The industry trade body said more than 90,000 roles in travel and related industries had already been affected by the pandemic, and 78 per cent of businesses expected to consider job cuts, although they had not yet discussed redundancies. Abta has written to chancellor Rishi Sunak pleading for a package of measures to support the industry. Its member survey showed that 90 per cent of travel companies have taken advantage of the government’s furlough scheme, and Abta wants the government to extend support to businesses that have not seen a significant recovery in revenues, as has been introduced in Australia.

Abta’s call comes amid a string of closures and redundancies across the industry, including STA Travel, which told customers on Friday (21 August) that it had gone bust, putting about 500 jobs in 50 high street branches at risk. Family-owned tour operator Hays Travel announced at the start of August that it was cutting almost 900 jobs.


Friday 21 August

5pm hires more staff to meet Covid home shopping surge

The online electrical goods retailer is hiring 650 staff after a surge in home shopping during the coronavirus pandemic. The company said it was recruiting for a variety of roles from software developers and a TikTok specialist to gas engineers, delivery drivers and a fridge recycling shift coordinator. The jobs are based in various locations, including Manchester, Bolton, Telford, Thatcham and Crewe. Last month the parcel delivery company Hermes said it wanted 9,000 more couriers, most of whom are classed as self-employed, and 1,500 full-time staff. The delivery company DPD said in June it would hire 6,000 workers, including HGV drivers, warehouse staff, managers and support staff such as mechanics.
3.20pm Greencore sandwich factory to close following coronavirus outbreak 

The Greencore Factory which supplies Marks and Spencer sandwiches has made the decision to close for at least two weeks. On Thursday 13 August the company revealed that an outbreak at its Northampton premises had infected 299 workers, but a spokesperson assured that production was "continuing as usual" with no concerns about its products. However, the business announced today after consulting with Public Health England (PHE) that all 2,100 staff would go into isolation and the premises temporarily closed. The firm said in a statement that, after consultation with “the Department of Health & Social Care, PHE and other government bodies”, it would temporarily cease production at the Northampton facility from the end of today, with some production moved to other sites. 
1pm Experts warn coronavirus job insecurity could exacerbate lying at work
Nearly half of UK employees have lied at work, a poll has revealed, with many doing so to hide mistakes or keep their bosses happy. A survey of over 1,000 workers by Glassdoor found 49 per cent admitted to lying at work. Of these, 44 per cent said they did so to avoid getting into trouble, over a third (34 per cent) lied to hide mistakes, two in five (40 per cent) lied because it was “easier to agree with the majority,” and almost a quarter (24 per cent) said they lied because their boss or colleagues did not “like to hear diverse opinions”. 
Paul Holcroft, associate director at Croner, said authenticity and organisational culture had become “arguably all the more crucial” since the coronavirus outbreak had shaken the world of work “to its core”. He warned staff could now be even more inclined to lie in some circumstances because of fears about losing their jobs.

12.50pm How BAT has kept 53,000 employees engaged remotely during Covid-19

A 24-hour virtual get-together for all staff, fun activities such as at-home workouts and regular comms have all been key to maintaining a sense of connection and morale, reports Ali Phillips.
10.50am Ground-handling companies warn of more job losses and call for new system when furlough ends

Airport ground-handling companies have warned of further steep job losses unless the government offers specific support for the aviation sector over the coming months. The UK’s four biggest air services groups  Swissport, Menzies Aviation, WFS and dnata wrote to senior ministers including Treasury chief secretary Stephen Barclay this week calling for a new system to protect jobs once the furlough scheme winds down in October. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has previously defended the plan to end the job retention scheme this autumn, although he has not ruled out an extension. The four aviation companies employ 30,000 people across the UK and provide airport services from check-in and baggage handling to catering and fuelling. 
9.30am One in six workers have returned to the office

One in six UK workers have returned to the office, according to Centre for Cities analysis. It showed that worker footfall in cities was just 17 per cent of pre-lockdown levels during the first two weeks of August, despite government advice giving firms the green light to get staff back into the workplace in England by placing the onus on them to ask workers to return when they the employer deemed it safe to do so. The report, which looked at Britain's 63 largest cities, found that employee footfall in London was 13 per cent of pre-lockdown levels, while in Cardiff and Edinburgh it stood at 14 per cent. Belfast’s rate stood at 18 per cent. Andrew Carter, chief executive of the Centre for Cities, warned that shops, restaurants, pubs and other city centre businesses faced “an uncertain future while office workers remain at home”

9.20am Estée Lauder plans up to 2,000 global job cuts

Estée Lauder is planning to cut up to 2,000 jobs worldwide as it shuts stores and department store beauty counters after a slump in sales and profits during the coronavirus pandemic. The makeup, skincare and perfume company, which also owns brands such as Joe Malone, Clinique, La Mer and MAC, said it intended to shut between 10 per cent and 15 per cent of its freestanding stores, with job cuts amounting to about 3 per cent of its global workforce.

7.20am Brewery gets more than 1,000 applications for single role

More than 1,000 people have applied for a single packaging job at Northern Monk Brewing Company in Leeds, the BBC has reported. The company said it received 1,021 applications for one packaging vacancy. Sophie Lennon, HR manager for the brewery, told theBBC that she had spoken to people who had been made redundant, but also people on furlough who were unsure if they would be brought back to work. "When we posted the job within the first day, we had a really high number of applicants," Lennon said. "We advertised the job for three weeks, and at the end of that time, we'd had 1,021 applicants for the job – which is way above what we'd usually see." 
Thursday 20 August 

5.20pm High street jobs will be lost unless rents are adjusted to reflect Covid impact, warns House of Fraser owner

House of Fraser's owner Frasers Group has warned of continuing job losses on the high street, with more store closures “anticipated.” The chain has closed about 10 of the 59 stores bought out of administration in 2018 but warned more could follow if landlords would not agree to move to rents based on sales figures impacted by Covid-19. It said Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic had led to “the most challenging year in the history of the company”. 
Chris Wootton, finance director of Frasers Group, told BBC Breakfast: "The high street as a whole is absolutely in a mess. Business rates certainly contribute to that. Unless the government does something, thousands and thousands of jobs and businesses will go. House of Fraser was paying double, treble, quadruple the rates they should be, and that's not sustainable." 
1.45pm One in eight workers still on furlough, official data shows
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.
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.
1.30pm Return to office hampered by commuting and work-life balance concerns, poll finds

Employees are concerned about their commutes to work and work-life balance when returning to the office, a survey has revealed. The poll of 100 UK workers conducted by e-days found that while concern about their health was the most common reason respondents cited for not wanting to return to the office, given by one in four (40 per cent), many had other reasons for not wanting to go back to their place of work.
Almost as many respondents (37 per cent) said their biggest concern was the impact of a return to the workplace on their work-life balance, while another 34 per cent said they did not want to go back to commuting.  Similarly, research from Roadmender Asphalt found that two-thirds (65 per cent) of 2,083  Brits no longer felt comfortable commuting to work via public transport, while a third (35 per cent) felt that travelling to work would have a negative impact on their mental health.

1.20pm Can employers rehire redundant workers on different terms?
Alana Penkethman and Molly Dilling explain the potential pitfalls involved in dismissing and re-recruiting employees on new contracts.

1.00pm HMRC writing to employers who may have claimed too much through furlough scheme

HMRC has said it is writing to selected coronavirus jobs retention (CJRS) scheme claimants who it thinks may have claimed too much through the furlough scheme. The tax body said it would start contacting about 3,000 employers a week from today (20 August) to ask them to check their claims.
HMRC said it would contact the employers "where the information we hold suggests there may have been a mistake". This could include claims which are different to the PAYE information provided to HMRC for recent months. 

12.40pm More House of Fraser store closures anticipated

Department store chain House of Fraser has warned that more of its stores will close than previously anticipated. The chain, which is part of Mike Ashley's Frasers Group, has closed 10 of the 59 stores bought by the businessman when the retailer went into administration in 2018. In a statement about the impact of the pandemic on the business, the group said: "There are anticipated to be further closures over the coming period, the number of which will depend on the outcome of lease negotiations."
10.45am Female leaders performed better in tackling Covid, research finds
Nations led by women fared “systematically and significantly better” in combating coronavirus, according to analysis of 194 countries by developmental economists from the universities of Liverpool and Reading. Their report showed these countries saw lower death rates and rolled out lockdowns more swiftly, with women leaders reacting “more quickly and decisively in the face of potential fatalities”. The data suggested “women were less willing to take risks with lives but were more willing to accept risks in relation to the early lockdown of economies”, noting that female-led nations locked down earlier “in almost all cases”.
“While this may have longer-term economic implications, it has certainly helped these countries to save lives,” it said, praising in particular the leadership styles of Jacinda Ardern, the New Zealand prime minister, Sanna Marin, the prime minister of Finland, and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.
10.30am Austrian Airlines execs to hand back bonuses after Covid-bailout outcry

The management board of Lufthansa subsidiary Austrian Airlines has said they will hand back bonuses after Austria’s finance minister said the payments were “unacceptable” for a company being bailed out with government funds following the coronavirus pandemic prompting a collapse in air travel. The firm, which was granted €450m in grants and loans, handed 200 managers €2.9m in bonuses for their performance last year, with the four-man management board awarded €500,000 in total.
9am British Gas faces threat of strike over ‘fire and rehire’ plans

Workers at British Gas are threatening strike action in response to the energy giant’s ‘fire and rehire’ plans. According to the GMB union, more than two-thirds of its 10,000 members took part in a consultative ballot, which secured a 95 per cent vote in favour of industrial action. Union representatives have accused British Gas of forcing its 20,000 employees to accept worse employment contracts or lose their jobs. 
Centrica, owner of British Gas, has been in talks with unions about simplifying its employment contracts and plans to cut 5,000 jobs to help the energy company survive the pandemic. A spokesperson for Centrica told The Guardian that the company was committed to reaching a negotiated settlement with union representatives “but simplifying and modernising working practices and their terms is essential if we’re to become more flexible in delivering for our customers”.

Wednesday 19 August 

3pm Health secretary says UK 'not considering' compulsory face coverings in workplaces

The UK government is 'not considering' making face coverings mandatory in workplaces, the health secretary has said, following France announcing that face masks would be compulsory in all workplaces from 1 September. Currently, face coverings are required in some indoor settings in France including for customers in shops and on public transport. When asked on BBC Breakfast whether the UK would follow France, Matt Hancock said the government was not considering this. 
He told the BBC: "And the reason is that the evidence from NHS Test and Trace for where people catch the disease is that, very largely, they catch it from one household meeting another household, usually in one of their homes. And so it's that household transmission that is the core group of passing on this virus in this country. The amount of people who have caught it in workplaces is relatively low we think from the evidence we've got." 
2.55pm Red Funnel to cut jobs after passenger downturn

Up to 50 jobs are to be cut at ferry company Red Funnel as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Red Funnel has been running a limited timetable for key workers and essential suppliers since lockdown restrictions were put in place. It said the cuts would be made across head office, support and operational functions.
Fran Collins, chief executive of Red Funnel, said the pandemic had a "far bigger and more sustained impact than we anticipated", citing a "prolonged downturn in passenger numbers" as the main reason for the cuts. Red Funnel, which currently employs 508 people, said 50 posts were at risk of being made redundant. However, it said a further 12 roles would be created in the coming months. 
1.40pm Employers urged to do more as data shows depression has doubled during Covid

The number of adults in the UK with depression has doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, official data has shown, prompting calls for businesses to prioritise support to avert a looming mental health crisis. One in five (19 per cent) people experienced some form of depression in June this year, almost double the 9.7 per cent with symptoms in the nine months leading up to March, according to a report by the Office for National Statistics.
The research, which surveyed 3,527 UK adults over a 12-month period, revealed that one in eight (13 per cent) had developed moderate to severe depressive symptoms during the pandemic. Of those experiencing some form of depression, a majority (85 per cent) said feeling stressed or envious was most strongly compromising their wellbeing.
12.30pm Six ways HR can help staff embrace an uncertainty mindset

People teams must redesign jobs to be modular not monolithic and set expectations that roles will continually evolve, says Vaughn Tan.
12.15pm Charity sector could lose 60,000 jobs

Over half (58 per cent) of charities are expected to cut back on their services because of the coronavirus, putting at risk some 60,000 jobs across the sector, a report has warned. The latest Charity Sector Tracker, published by Pro Bono Economics, estimated the outbreak had created a £10bn funding gap.
The report, which surveyed 455 charities, found 19 per cent had already made redundancies, and that 23 per cent expected to make further cuts to headcount when the government’s furlough scheme comes to an end. The situation was worse among larger charities, the report found, with nearly one in 10 (8 per cent) of the UK’s largest charities expecting to reduce headcount by 25 to 50 per cent.
Pro Bono Economics said while 5,600 redundancies had been officially announced by charities since the pandemic started, the real number of job losses in the sector could be closer to 25,600, and that another 34,100 jobs could go by the end of the year.
8.45am Blood cancer charity announces restructure and potential job cuts

Blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan has announced it will begin a restructure process in response to the pandemic and loss of income the organisation has experienced. The proposed changes would enable Anthony Nolan to continue its services and research while reducing costs. It estimated that 29 roles across the charity are at risk. 
Henny Braund, chief executive of Anthony Nolan, said the demand for their work has not stopped, but the "world in which we are operating is changing at a pace and scale that no one could have predicted". As such, Braund said the charity had to "evolve" to ensure they will be able to operate in the future. The proposed restructure is set to conclude in October. 
7.30am PizzaExpress to close 73 restaurants

PizzaExpress is to close 73 restaurants, putting almost 1,100 jobs at risk as the outlets close. The chain, which has 454 locations across the UK at the moment, said the store closures had been part of a deal to reduce rent costs. Earlier this month, PizzaExpress had announced it was looking to close 67 outlets as it looked to put the business on a "stronger financial footing in the new socially distanced environment".
Zoe Bowley, PizzaExpress's managing director for the UK and Ireland, said: "Unfortunately, the impact of the global pandemic has meant that we have had to make some incredibly tough decisions to safeguard PizzaExpress for the long term." Bowley said, in most cases, the stores selected for closure are near another PizzaExpress that has already reopened or will be reopening soon.

Tuesday 18 August

5.30pm Coronavirus adding to employment tribunal backlog, expert warns

The coronavirus outbreak has led to a significant increase in the backlog of tribunal complaints facing the courts, a law firm has said. Alan Lewis of Constantine Law estimates the number of unheard tribunal clases is increasing by 1 per cent for every week, and cautioned that this was likely to increase as the end of the government’s furlough scheme leads to more redundancies.

Prior to lockdown, there were 30,600 unheard employment tribunal cases as of March 2020, rising to 36,600 in June. “Much of this backlog has been caused, not by the Covid-19 crisis, but by a huge lack of funding in the courts and tribunals service over recent years,” said Lewisl. But, he added: “The fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has brought these issues to a head.

“It is worrying to see that cases brought mid-2020 in the South East will now not be heard until 2022, creating more uncertainty for employees and businesses alike. The system is in danger of being completely overwhelmed, particularly when the coronavirus job retention scheme comes to an end. More resources are urgently needed, including more judges.”

2.55pm Another 95 Bombardier jobs at risk of redundancy in Northern Ireland

Aerospace firm Bombardier has said an additional 95 jobs are at risk of redundancy at its Northern Ireland operations following the announcement in June that it was cutting 600 jobs in the country due to interruptions and challenges caused by the pandemic. The company employs around 3,500 workers across Northern Ireland. 

In a statement, Bombardier said it regretted the impact the additional cuts "will have on our workforce and their families", but it said it is "essential we align our business with current market realities to ensure we have a sustainable long-term future".

1.25pm Two-fifths of firms have sacked staff for cybersecurity breaches during Covid, poll shows

Almost two-fifths of business decision-makers (39 per cent) have dismissed employees because of a cybersecurity policy breach since the pandemic began, a survey has found. The research, conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Centrify, polled 200 UK business decision-makers and found more than half (58 per cent) of firms believed that working from home made employees more likely to circumvent security protocols – including through the use of personal laptops and failing to change passwords.

To combat poor employee security practices, more than half (55 per cent) of those surveyed had banned, or planned to ban, staff from using personal devices to work from home. Meanwhile, 57 per cent were implementing more measures to securely authenticate employees, including biometric data checks such as fingerprint and facial recognition technology, and multi-factor authentication steps to access certain files, applications and accounts.

12.25pm UK unemployment rate could be worse than official figures suggest, academics warn

The UK’s unemployment rate could be far worse than official figures have estimated, a group of academics has said, warning that the country could be facing the “biggest unemployment shock since at least the 1980s recession”. A paper from the London School of Economics’ Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) said the government’s furlough scheme was skewing unemployment figures, and that the real level of unemployment could have fallen by 15 per cent between February and June this year – much higher than the official figure.

The report argued that because the job retention scheme was keeping individuals with no work in employment, a more “realistic” measure of unemployment would be the proportion of people working no hours. By this measure, the number of workers in employment who did not work any hours was only about 1.3 per cent in February, but increased to 30 per cent in April before falling to 26 per cent in May and 21 per cent in June.

11.30am France to make masks compulsory for some office activities

France is set to make masks compulsory at some business meetings and in other office activities in an effort to prevent a second wave of coronavirus cases. Employment minister Élisabeth Borne will this week meet with employers and unions and will propose compulsory masks in collective workspaces. Masks are already compulsory on public transport, in shops and all other indoor public places, but the government’s main advisory council on health has recommended making masks compulsory in all common indoor spaces. This comes after France reported 3,310 new infections at the weekend – the highest 24-hour total since the national lockdown was eased on 13 May – and the country was added to the list of countries UK nationals should self-isolate after visiting.

11.15am Carlyle staff told not to use public transport to commute and to self-isolate if using in their own time

Staff at public equity company Carlyle, which is reopening its London office next month, have been told not to come into the office for 14 days if using public transport at the weekends. Employees have been advised that returning to any of the company's 31 worldwide offices is "entirely voluntary" and that if they do so they should walk or cycle. A spokesperson said: "The safety of our employees remains our highest priority. Returning to the office is entirely voluntary and our global policy, which includes encouraging workers not to use public transportation, is designed to protect the health and wellbeing of every colleague. As the situation continues to evolve, we are asking everyone to take an approach that works for their personal situation."

9.55am Two-thirds of commuters will not travel to work because of shift to home working, watchdog warns

As many as two-thirds of commuters who regularly travelled to work by train before the pandemic would not do so in future because of the shift to working from home, a watchdog has warned. In its report, Transport Focus suggested an even greater proportion of commuters from the South East, who account for almost 70 per cent of UK train journeys, do not plan to return to the office full time. 

As such, Transport Focus called for an increase in rail fares set to be announced tomorrow (19 August) to be scrapped as part of the UK's shift towards flexible working. It called for the widespread introduction of season tickets for two, three or four days a week to appeal to those with flexible working arrangements. 

8.10am More than 70 Covid-19 cases at Nottinghamshire dessert factory

More than 70 staff at the Bakkavor dessert factory in Nottinghamshire have tested positive for Covid-19. On 7 August, the firm said all of its 1,600 staff would be tested after 39 cases were detected. That figure has now risen to 72 positive cases after 701 employees were tested. Testing will continue until Wednesday (18 August) to enable Bakkavor's full workforce to be tested at an on-site station run by the NHS. 

7.30am M&S to cut 7,000 jobs over next three months

Marks & Spencer has said it will cut 7,000 jobs over the next three months across its business. The retailer said it expected a "significant proportion" of the jobs to go through voluntary redundancy and early retirement. 

It said the pandemic made it clear there had been a "material shift in trade" as in-store sales of clothing and home goods were "well below" 2019 levels, but online and home deliveries remained strong because of social distancing rules. In a statement, M&S said it was "too early to predict with precision where a new post-Covid sales mix will settle. We must now act to reflect this change".

Monday 17 August

5.30pm PwC and Schroders will allow staff to work from home after lockdown

Accounting firm PwC has predicted that the majority of its 22,000 staff will move to an even split of office and home working on a permanent basis. It hopes to have its offices at 50 per cent capacity on a voluntary basis by the end of September, if it is safe to do so.

Meanwhile, management company Schroders has told staff they will not be required to return to the office full time, even after the pandemic has passed. Prior to the crisis, staff had the flexibility to work from home one day a week, but under the new plan they are free to agree working patterns with managers and no expectations will be made on total days in the office. Schroder’s HR boss Emma Holden told the Guardian: “Rethinking the rulebook on flexibility will ultimately prove a huge shot in the arm for productivity in the long term.”

2.45pm Furlough scheme extension could save two million jobs, says think tank

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) warned that up to three million jobs will “still be on life support” when the coronavirus job retention scheme ends in October, but said that extending the scheme and offering more support to businesses could make two-thirds of these jobs sustainable in the long term.

In a report, the IPPR suggested the government replace the current coronavirus job retention scheme with a new coronavirus work sharing scheme (CWSS) that would encourage firms to keep employees in work rather than putting them on furlough.

2.30pm Is it legal to record video meetings?

With many employees still working from home, it may be necessary to carry grievances, performance and absence meetings, consultations and even dismissals remotely via video call. Kathleen Morrison explains the circumstances in which employers and employees can lawfully record virtual disciplinary meetings.

1.10pm River Island to cut 350 management and senior sales roles

River Island said it will undergo a restructure which cut 350 jobs across its store management and senior sales teams. The news comes after the fashion retailer announced last month that it would make 250 head office staff redundant after the pandemic triggered a fall in sales and footfall. River Island said this latest restructure would allow it to simplify its store management structures. 

Will Kernan, chief executive of River Island, said the retailer needs to make sure "we have the right structures in place" to continue to deliver the in-store experience that customers "know and love". He added: "With a heavy heart, I can confirm that these changes will potentially impact up to 350 store management and senior sales roles. Whilst this is an incredibly difficult decision, these actions are crucial to ensure that our stores continue to effectively play their hugely important role in our omnichannel future."

12.20pm Second self-employment grant scheme opens 

Millions of self-employed workers in the UK who have been affected by the pandemic will be able to apply for a second support grant, the government has announced. The second self-employment income support scheme (SEISS) grant, which opened for applications this morning (17 August), will pay up to £6,750 for each person eligible for the scheme. More than three million people are thought to be eligible for the second grant, and chancellor Rishi Sunak said 95 per cent of all self-employed workers were able to be covered by the scheme. 

The first round in May saw £7.7bn in grants claimed by 2.7 million self-employed workers. HMRC said over 39,000 successfully made claims had been made by early this morning. The window to make claims under this second grant is initially open for a four-day period, but the HMRC said anyone who thinks they may be eligible and hasn't been contacted by the tax body, has until October to make a claim.

9.45am Theatre producer makes 200 staff redundant

Theatre producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh has made approximately 200 employees redundant. A spokesperson for his operations said a redundancy process, announced in June, had been completed and staff had been notified. They declined to give an official number, but a report by the Daily Mail estimates the number to be around 200. 

Mackintosh owns eight theatres in London’s West End, and has previously complained that the UK government has offered no "tangible, practical support" to the arts and theatre sector. The spokesperson for the group said: "It is a very sad time for everyone affected by this thankless situation, one we could never have imagined would have been forced on the industry."

8.50am National Trust for Scotland awarded funding boost to save jobs

197 jobs have been saved at the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) after it was awarded £3.8m by the Scottish government to help it recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The funding boost will also help NTS open 33 historic sites and buildings this year: five more than the charity had planned. 

Despite the funding, NTS said it still expected to make 232 redundancies. The conservation group said it had lost £30m – half its expected income – as a result of the lockdown and subsequent restrictions. In May, NTS said it would look to sell off non-heritage land and property, making 429 staff redundant. 

8.30am Debenhams hires liquidator to start contingency plans 

Debenhams has appointed a firm to draw up contingency plans for a possible liquidation of the department store. The retailer, which is in administration, said last week it would axe 2,500 more jobs on top of the 4,000 job cuts announced in May. Despite the recent cuts, Debenhams said it was "trading strongly", and the appointment of a new firm did not mean a liquidation was likely. 

In April, Debenhams filed for administration and is currently examining options to exit the process. These options include the current owners continuing to run the chain, a sale of the brand or a joint venture with new or existing investors. But if the administrators fail to find a buyer or new plan, Debenhams may face liquidation which would put 14,000 jobs at risk. 

Friday 14 August 

4.30pm Restaurant chain YO! Sushi announces closures and staff cuts

 YO! Sushi has announced it will close 19 restaurants and cut 250 staff due to changes in consumer behaviour during the coronavirus pandemic. A company-wide restructure has prompted a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), which allows it to shut loss-making sites. 

YO! Sushi boss Richard Hodgson told the BBC: "While we have already taken measures to reduce costs, rents remain an issue. In the current climate, it's just not viable for us to keep any sites that no longer perform."

4pm Job postings reach highest point since start of lockdown

The number of job adverts rose to its highest since the start of lockdown in the first week of August, with 126,000 new roles posted between 3 and 9 August, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) has said, bringing the total number of job postings to 1.1 million. However, this is still below the 1.35 million active job postings available in the first week of March.

The REC said there was a notable increase in listings for gardeners (up 23.7 per cent), construction workers (up 15.8 per cent), painters and decorators (up 14.1 per cent), bricklayers (up 13.3 per cent) and lorry drivers (up 14 per cent).

Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said that while there would be more redundancies over the coming months, these figures showed that “a recovery was underway”.

2.30pm Managing neurodiverse workers remotely

Amid the rise of long-term home working, Amanda Beaumont outlines how employers can meet the needs of neurodivergent employees.

2.15pm How to fill the gap left by peer-to-peer learning

We’re missing out on informal training while remote working, says Helena Sharpstone – but there are ways to overcome what’s lacking.

2pm Targeted changes could reduce workplace spread of Covid-19, report argues

A report from the Royal Society has said targeted changes to the workplace and an increase in statutory sick pay (SSP) could reduce the spread of coronavirus in the workplace. It called on employers to introduce rotation schemes – where the workforce is divided into groups which attend work at different times – or split shifts, which have been shown to have an “exponential impact” on infection rates.

The authors also warned against an “abrupt and premature lifting of lockdown”, and said the UK needed policies that were sensitive to both possibility of a second peak in the virus and a double dip recession.

9.50am Lockdown rules to ease in England from Saturday

Prime minister Boris Johnson has announced that bowling alleys, casinos and soft play centres will reopen from Saturday. Close contact beauty treatments will also be permitted, alongside small wedding receptions and live indoor performances. The government will also increase fines for those refusing to wear a face covering when required from £100 (reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days) up to a maximum of £3,200.

Johnson told the BBC: "Most people in this country are following the rules and doing their bit to control the virus, but we must remain focused and we cannot be complacent. That is why we are strengthening the enforcement powers available to use against those who repeatedly flout the rules."

Thursday 13 August

5pm Nearly 300 sandwich factory employees test positive for Covid-19

Almost 300 workers at a sandwich factory in Northampton are self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, the director of public health for the county has said.

Greencore, which supplies sandwiches to M&S and employs 2,100 workers, proactively started testing staff for the virus after an increase in cases in the town. 299 employees tested positive – 220 through the firm’s testing and 79 via the national system – and are now self-isolating at home.  

A spokesperson for the company told the BBC that production was "continuing as usual" and it had no concerns about its products.

4.15pm Pregnant women incorrectly sent home on SSP during Covid crisis

Many pregnant women who were supposed to be sent home on full pay if their workplaces could not be made Covid secure when the lockdown was imposed in March, were instead put on statutory sick pay (SSP), according to research by Labour. The party said this could also result in cuts to their statutory maternity pay (SMP) as pregnant women must have earned at least £120 a week on average during an eight-week lead-up period to qualify. But SSP is just £95.85 a week, meaning women shielding on that level of pay for eight weeks or more would miss out on SMP.

4pm Home workers split commuting time between work and leisure

People working from home during the pandemic have split the hours previously spent commuting to and from the office almost evenly between work and leisure, research by Atlas Cloud has found. With this trend extrapolated across a year's work, researchers estimate that employees would do an extra month's work each year and gain the equivalent of almost 26 days in time off if they maintained this habit. Remote working "can be a win-win for employees and employers," said Pete Watson, chief executive of Atlas Cloud. "The pandemic has transformed the way that Britain's workers think about the workplace, but it is by no means the death of the traditional office – it is the birth of hybrid working."

1.55pm Return to work could worsen health and safety inequality, study suggests

A think tank has called on the government to make injury prevention a public health priority as research shows lower-earning workers could be most at risk of injuries as they return to the workplace. A report from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) – Better than cure: Injury prevention policy – found that lower-earning workers were twice as likely to be physically injured or become ill at work as higher earners, making the need to protect staff as they returned to the workplace a “matter of fairness”.

It said individuals in the top 10 per cent of hourly earners had a physical injury and illness rate of just 2.1 per cent, compared to 4.9 per cent among the bottom 10 per cent of earners.

1.10pm UK productivity drops at fastest rate since records began

Productivity fell at its fastest rate since records began during lockdown, official figures show, as millions of people stopped working and economic activity dropped. Labour productivity, measured by output per hour, fell by 2.5 per cent between April and June, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This was a two-fold decrease in productivity compared to the 1.3 per cent fall recorded in the first three months of the year, and it was the sharpest fall in productivity since records began in 1991.

During the same period, output per worker – measured as the total output divided by the number of workers employed – fell to -22 per cent: a drop of 19.9 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2020 (-3.1 per cent). The ONS said the large disparity between the output per hour and output per worker figures was largely because of the government’s furlough scheme, which left millions of workers employed and on payrolls but working zero hours.

12.30pm National Express to use government jobs bonus to cut fares

Coach operator National Express said it will use £4m from the government's job retention bonus scheme to cut fares on its West Midlands and Dundee bus routes. It said the move would help boost demand and support local economies. The bonus scheme will pay firms £1,000 for each employee brought back from furlough and employed until January.

The announcement suggests that National Express will bring back 4,000 workers from furlough. It said a "sizeable proportion" of its remaining 3,000 staff had also been furloughed, and some had already been brought back to work. National Express said it currently had no plans to cut jobs.

11.55am As remote working continues, trust is key to maintaining momentum

With working from home looking more like a long-term reality than a short-term solution, Jenny Perkins explains how employers can keep workers engaged.

8.50am Thousands of BP staff may switch to remote working permanently

BP is considering a radical reconfiguring of its offices, which could see its almost 50,000 employees combine home working with the occasional trip back to the office in the wake of the pandemic. Bernard Looney, chief executive of BP, told the Guardian that the oil giant expects to move to a "more hybrid work style", which will be a mixture of home and office-based hotdesking. As part of this plan, BP could almost halve its property portfolio as more staff switch to digital working in the long-term.

BP employs almost 70,000 workers across 79 countries. Earlier this year, the company revealed plans to cut its global workforce by 15 per cent by the end of 2020, representing almost 10,000 jobs. This cut will shrink the number of office-based employees by a quarter, and BP said the remaining office workers will be asked to embrace its new hybrid working arrangement. 

8.40am Fred Olsen Cruise Lines to cut third of staff

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines says it will cut a third of its UK head office staff because of the pandemic's impact on the travel and tourism industries. The cruise firm employs 150 people as part of its shoreside operations in Ipswich. Peter Deer, managing director, said it was a "sad" decision", and the business still "don't know when we can sail again, with the government still advising against cruising". 

7.30am Dr Martens repays UK furlough cash after strong lockdown sales

Dr Martens has said it has repaid its furlough cash to the government after strong shoe sales during lockdown. The footwear brand said sales rose nearly 50 per cent in the year up to June. Kenny Wilson, chief executive of Dr Martens, said it had been a year of "exceptional growth", and he was confident in the brand's future despite difficulties caused by the pandemic.

Wilson said: “Looking ahead, while we are currently in a volatile and uncertain trading environment, we have a very clear strategy in place supported by a strong brand and consumer connections, and I am confident in the outlook for the business.”

Wednesday 12 August 

5.30pm Natwest to cut 550 jobs in branches

Natwest Group is cutting 550 jobs in branches across the UK and closing one of its remaining offices in London, it has announced. The bank told the BBC the cuts had been on the cards since before the pandemic as it had seen a steady decline in branch transactions in recent years. However, it has seen more of its customers turn to online banking during the coronavirus pandemic, it said. Exacerbating this, many of its branches had reduced their opening hours before lockdown restrictions were eased, while some shut temporarily due to staffing issues. Separately, Natwest is closing its Regents House office in London, which had space for 2,500 workers. It said it will reconfigure its other offices in Bishopsgate and on the Strand.

2.15pm FAQs on collective consultation

As the furlough scheme begins to wind down, many businesses will be contemplating large-scale redundancies. Sarah Austin offers answers to some key queries around this issue.

2.00pm Young workers opting out of pensions because of Covid crisis, poll suggests

Two-fifths of younger workers have either reduced their pension contributions or stopped saving for retirement altogether as the lockdown squeezes their personal finances, research has suggested.

A poll of 2,000 people by Royal London found 28 per cent of those aged between 18 and 34 had reduced their pension in June, with a further 12 per cent stopping their contributions altogether. In comparison, just 16 per cent of those aged 35 to 53 either stopped or reduced their pension contributions. Lorna Blyth, head of investment solutions at Royal London, said the coronavirus outbreak had “put a real strain on many people’s finances”.

“Research shows many are looking to reduce their outgoings by cutting or even stopping contributions,” she said.

1.45pm Half of managers fear staff are burning out because of Covid-19, report finds

Half of managers in the UK believe workers may be at an increased risk of burnout following a change in working patterns and behaviours caused by the global pandemic, a report has found. A poll of 2,000 workers and 500 managers, conducted by Robert Walters, found nearly half (47 per cent) of managers thought their employees could be at risk of burnout because of this.

Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser for the CIPD, warned new work demands and working arrangements, including working from home, could put staff at risk from stress and burnout. She said employers needed to be alert to signs of unhealthy working practices such as “digital presenteeism”, and ensure employees took breaks and maintained boundaries between their work and home lives.

1.15pm Tate to make half of commercial workforce redundant

Tate galleries has announced 313 redundancies across its commercial enterprises, which include staff who work in publishing and in gallery shops, cafes and restaurants in London, Liverpool and St Ives. The figure – almost half of the 640-strong workforce – is bigger than the 200 redundancies that had previously been speculated on. Tate Enterprises staff who are members of the PCS union last week voted for industrial action, which could result in more than 100 workers going on strike from 17 August.

Concerns have also been expressed that the job cuts could disproportionately affect black and ethnic minority employees. But in an email to staff announcing the redundancies, Tate director Maria Balshaw and chief operating officer Vicky Cheetham said: “First of all it is important to say that we do not yet know the outcome until selection processes are completed. However, it is likely that the proportion of BAME colleagues across Tate Enterprises will remain broadly the same at the end of the process.”

1pm UK in recession for first time in 11 years

The UK economy suffered its biggest slump on record between April and June, shrinking 20.4 per cent compared with the first three months of the year, meaning coronavirus lockdown measures pushed the country officially into recession. This is the UK’s first technical recession – defined as two consecutive quarters of economic decline – since 2009. Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the BBC that the government was "grappling with something that is unprecedented" and that it was "a very difficult and uncertain time". But shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds blamed prime minister Boris Johnson for the scale of the economic decline, saying: "A downturn was inevitable after lockdown – but Johnson's jobs crisis wasn't."

9am HMRC miscalculates coronavirus grants for self-employed

HMRC has admitted that more than 16,000 grants given to the self-employed to help them through the coronavirus crisis were either too high or should not have been paid. Integrated Dispute Resolution, a legal services firm that highlighted the error, called on HMRC to be transparent about how much the errors had cost. A spokesperson for HMRC said: “The self-employment income support scheme has been delivered at an unprecedented pace and has protected the livelihoods of 2.7 million self-employed people in the UK. The vast majority of grants were paid correctly but in a very small number of cases not all the information held on a tax return was taken into account when calculating eligibility and grants.”

8.40am RSPCA to make 269 redundancies

Animal welfare charity RSPCA has announced it will make 269 job cuts as part of a restructure accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic. The charity, which employs more than 1,600 people, said in June it would need to make up to 300 people redundant. It said it would be reviewing all of its activities as part of a new 10-year strategy, but the need for change had been heightened by the pandemic.

The RSPCA is also closing services at the Putney Animal Hospital and Southall Clinic in London, as well as two rehoming centres in Surrey. The charity is forecasting a deficit of up to £25m this year, rising to a potential £47m deficit over the next three years. Chris Sherwood, chief executive of the RSPCA, said the organisation had considered "every single proposal submitted and will be exploring some of the cost-saving measures suggested by staff".

8.30am NHS test and trace to axe 6,000 jobs

The NHS test and trace service is cutting 6,000 contact tracer jobs, allocating roles to regional teams to work with councils. The government announced on Monday (10 August) that local and national teams would work together following criticism by local authorities that the centrally run system was failing to tackle local outbreaks. The change means the number of national contact tracers will be reduced from 18,000 to 12,000 on 24 August.

Currently, the national system is used to contact those who are at risk of having contracted the virus after being in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. The change will mean tracers will focus on specific areas, and if they cannot make contact with a resident, local public health officials can use the data provided by NHS test and trace to follow up. 

7.45am Pubs, restaurants and leisure centres in Oldham could close as cases spike 

Oldham is facing full lockdown measures as a result of its number of Covid-19 cases nearly doubling despite social contact restrictions. Katrina Stephens, director of public health for Oldham Council, told the Guardian it was discussing the closure of bars, restaurants and gyms following a “sudden increase” of cases in the Greater Manchester town, but added it required national powers to enforce. 

“Those discussions are taking place to start preparing for that, should it be needed. However, we are not at that point yet and if people take these actions we really, really hope that will bring down the rate and that won’t be needed,” said Stephens. She confirmed a full government-ordered lockdown could take place within days unless social restriction rules are adhered to. 

Tuesday 11 August

2.10pm Three-quarters of a million have fallen from company payrolls, ONS finds

Almost three-quarters of a million jobs have been dropped from company payrolls since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the latest official figures have shown. Early indicators for July 2020 suggested the number of UK employees on payrolls was down by 730,000 compared to March 2020, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The data showed the total number of weekly hours worked between April and June 2020 was down a record 203.3 million hours on the previous year, and down 191.3 million hours on the previous quarter. Employment levels have also decreased, with 220,000 fewer people in jobs compared to the previous quarter, marking the largest quarterly decline in a decade since the financial crisis in May to July 2009, with both men and women seeing decreases on the quarter.

12.50pm Thousands of older staff dropped out of the workforce during lockdown, figures show

Nearly 200,000 people over the age of 50 have dropped out of the workforce or become economically inactive since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK, analysis of official figures has found. The analysis of Office for National Statistics data by jobsite Rest Less found that, since the start of lockdown, there has been a greater increase in economic inactivity among this age group than any other demographic.

Economic inactivity for the over-50s rose 1.4 per cent from 13.9 million to 14.1 million between the three months to February and the three months to May – equating to 198,000 older workers leaving the workforce through the course of the pandemic. By comparison, economic inactivity increased just 1 per cent among those aged 35 to 49, and actually fell 1 per cent and 0.8 per cent among those aged between 25 to 36 and 18 to 24 respectively.

12.45pm Debenhams to cut a further 2,500 jobs 

Debenhams has announced plans to cut another 2,500 jobs in the latest blow to the high street. These redundancies are additional to the 4,000 job cuts made by Debenhams since it went into administration in April.

The high street retailer is reducing the number of shop assistants as trading has remained low since reopening 124 of its stores after lockdown. It will also remove the roles of sales manager, visual merchandise manager and selling support manager. The Guardian reported that staff affected by redundancy have been informed.

11.55am Beware the office politics of hybrid workplaces

If people are given the choice to come back without firms learning to measure outputs, those most able to return will be at an unfair advantage, says Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.

11.45am How will Covid-19 affect gender equality?

The accelerated move towards flexible working brought about by the crisis may benefit women, but risks offices becoming ‘men’s dens’. Gillian MacLellan and Abbie Harley explain how employers can mitigate this.

9.30am Waitrose and Co-op give staff bodycams amid growing concerns of customer abuse

Waitrose is to provide its staff with bodycams to help protect workers from assaults. The move comes after Co-op gave the devices to workers in 250 stores when the chain recorded 990 incidents of antisocial behaviour and verbal abuse in the week that the wearing of face masks in stores became compulsory. Retailers and retail bodies, such as the British Independent Retailers Association, have recently reported a growing level of abuse towards staff from customers, and concerns were expressed when mask wearing in shops was made mandatory that retail staff should not be expected to enforce this. Waitrose said the 50-store bodycam trial was to make staff feel “safe and supported” but highlighted that the decision had been under consideration before the lockdown measures. 

9.20am Coronavirus accelerates shift to remote working, survey finds

A survey by PwC has found that almost nine in 10 UK chief executives expect the pandemic to prompt a permanent shift towards remote working. Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner at PwC UK, said: "While a large majority of UK and global CEOs believe Covid-19 has accelerated a long-term shift to more remote working, a blend of office and home working is most likely to be the future norm. There are many benefits of people coming together face to face, particularly when it comes to learning and innovation." PwC announced in July that its own offices would hopefully operate at at least 50 per cent capacity by the end of September. Ellis said this was because “bringing people together safely is important for teams, good for communities and good for the economy”. The company has introduced a raft of safety measures such as sensors that allocate desks.

The PwC survey also found that UK business leaders were more likely than their international peers to provide financial assistance to staff and support the mental health and wellbeing of workers.

9am Coronavirus-fuelled shift to digital puts nearly 1,000 TSB jobs at risk

More than 920 frontline staff at TSB will have their jobs phased out next year, with cashiers told they must retrain, change roles or take voluntary redundancy. The bank blames a steep decline in branch visits because of lockdown. "The way customers use their banks is changing and Covid-19 has significantly accelerated the use of digital services," a spokesperson for TSB said. "When customers visit our branches, their needs tend to be more complex and we need a fully multi-skilled and flexible workforce to meet them. This is why we are offering some branch colleagues the opportunity to upskill to take on broader customer service roles or take voluntary redundancy."

7.50am More than 10.5 million meals claimed through government scheme in first week

10,540,394 meals have been claimed through the government's ‘eat out to help out’ scheme in its first week, the Treasury has said. The scheme is intended to boost the struggling hospitality secretary by offering a 50 per cent discount for a meal eaten at a cafe, restaurant or pub on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. The discount, which is due to run through August, can be claimed back by participating retailers from the government. 

The Treasury estimates that the average claim is close to £5 per person, making the cost of the scheme around £50m so far. The government has set aside £500m to fund the policy. Chancellor Rishi Sunak described the figures as "amazing", adding those using the scheme were helping support the hospitality sector.

7.30am About 80 jobs at risk at Welsh National Trust sites

Approximately 80 jobs at the National Trust in Wales could be made redundant because of the pandemic. Historic sites, gardens and shops managed by the charity have been closed since March, but the National Trust has warned many properties may have to remain closed for years, despite being able to reopen some sites. 

Rebecca Williams, assistant director of the National Trust Wales, said the lack of income being generated by visitors meant the trust had to make "very difficult decisions". Williams said the charity had taken out loans, frozen recruitment and cut expenses, but it had come to the point where job cuts were needed to "ensure the long-term security of the organisation". The National Trust had previously announced about 1,200 jobs would be cut across the UK as a result of anticipated losses of £200m because of Covid-19.

Monday 10 August 

4.20pm Websites providing artificial office noise surprisingly popular in lockdown

Sites that provide background noises of things like printers and coffee machines, as well as people chatting, have attracted millions of hits during lockdown, the BBC has reported. When widespread home working was enforced, a number of experts set up office noise websites largely as a bit of fun, but many workers have found them useful.

Belgian research engineer Stéphane Pigeon, who created Office Noise Generator, told the BBC: "When the pandemic hit and people started to work from home, I released an office noise generator, really as a joke. I didn't think anyone would listen.” But he says his page has racked up 200,000 views since April. The Sound of Colleagues has done even better, attracting more than a million page views, including 164,000 from the UK.

12.45pm Lessons from government on petty rule-making

HR and managers need to recognise that overly controlling instructions without fair and effective enforcement are pointless, says Martin Tiplady.

12.30pm One in three employers planning to reduce headcount by end of September, poll finds

Out of the 2,000 organisations surveyed by the CIPD and Adecco Group as part of their quarterly Labour Market Outlook, 33 per cent said they planned to make redundancies in the third quarter of this year. This is a 50 per cent increase in the number of companies expecting to make redundancies compared to the previous quarter.

Private sector firms were twice as likely as public sector organisations to be planning redundancies. Nearly two in five (38 per cent) private sector employers said they were expecting to reduce headcount, compared to less than one in five (16 per cent) in the public sector. Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser at the CIPD, said this quarter’s outlook was one of the “weakest sets of data” for several years. “Until now, redundancies have been low – no doubt because of the job retention scheme – but we expect to see more redundancies come through this autumn, especially in the private sector, once the scheme closes,” he said.

12pm Pret A Manger to cut staff hours

Pret A Manger has confirmed it has asked thousands of staff to work fewer hours as part of a post-pandemic restructuring. Despite the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions, trading continues to be slow as many office workers are still at home. Employees in stores have been asked to work about 20 per cent fewer hours than before. A Pret spokesperson said: "Our biggest priority is to do everything we can to save jobs. With footfall in our shops still significantly below normal levels, we have had to review the hours team members are contracted to work each week – although of course we hope to increase these hours as trade improves.”

11.45am Unions agree to reopen schools but say staff must be protected

Teaching unions have committed themselves to reopening schools next month but remain at loggerheads with the government over routine coronavirus testing and tracing. The National Education Union (NEU) echoed a call by Anne Longfield, children’s commissioner for England, for a robust testing system. At the start of the lockdown, teaching unions were criticised for advising caution about members returning to school until their demands were met. The NEU defended issuing a checklist of almost 200 items, saying it was common sense. The demands include assurances that staff will not have to work longer days and that they should receive support for trauma anxiety. It also wants schools to agree that staff forced to quarantine as a result of holidays booked before the government’s quarantine announcement should be able to work from home or receive paid leave.

9.25am Gyms, swimming pools and play centres reopen in Wales 

Gyms, swimming pools, leisure centres and play centres in Wales will reopen today with strict rules in place. In leisure centres, saunas and steam rooms will remain closed, while hard to clean areas in soft play centres such as ball pits will also remain closed. Businesses are urged to maintain high levels of hygiene and maintain two metre social distancing where possible. 

The Welsh government said businesses were legally required "to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus" on their premises, according to the BBC, which includes measures such as social distancing. Failure to comply could see local authorities issue improvement notices or, in the case of a serious breach, an order to close. 

Friday 7 August

4.45pm Thousands of BA staff to find out if they’ll lose their jobs

Thousands of long-serving cabin crew at British Airways are expected to find out today whether or not they will be made redundant in the airline's measures to combat a significant downturn in passenger numbers amid the coronavirus pandemic. Staff will be told they are either being made redundant, that they have a role but will have to sign a new contract – most likely with lower pay and worse terms and conditions – or that they will continue in the same role with the same contract. Staff who are being made redundant will have the option of entering the airline’s priority return talent pool and will be fast-tracked into any new roles that become available. The airline said more than 6,000 staff across the business have accepted voluntary redundancy.

Unions have condemned the plan as an attempt to “fire and rehire”. It is being used to push the 30,000 employees who will still have jobs on to downgraded terms and conditions, they say. The plan has also been heavily criticised by MPs, with the chair of the transport select committee Huw Merriman describing it as "the equivalent of putting a gun to someone's head".

1.45pm Return to work and redundancy worries affect more than half of workers, survey finds

More than half of UK employees’ wellbeing has been negatively affected over the past month, according to a survey, as many employers start cutting jobs and asking staff to return to workplaces. The report by Perkbox found that 58 per cent of employees said changes to the furlough scheme and future uncertainty over the world of work had negatively impacted their mental health, leaving them with rising levels of stress and anxiety.

Almost half (46 per cent) said they felt disconnected from their team and business over the past month, while 38 per cent said their physical wellbeing had been affected by the continued pandemic. Only 15 per cent of the 6,273 UK employees surveyed had experienced no negative impacts on their wellbeing in the past month. 

1.30pm Bank of England governor backs ending furlough in October

Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey has supported the government’s plans to wind down the furlough scheme, saying it was important workers were allowed to “move forward” instead of being kept in unproductive jobs – even if this meant some jobs were made redundant. 

His comments came as the bank published new analysis of the impact of lockdown on the economy, which said that while the effect on jobs had not been as severe as predicted in May, unemployment was still likely to increase.

It said that despite the winding down of the government’s support schemes, the majority of workers exiting the furlough scheme were likely to return to work. Because of this, the report said that the impact of unemployment on households would likely be less severe than during the 2008 financial crisis, particularly when looking at levels of household debt.

12.55pm What do the Spanish quarantine rules mean for employers?

With people returning to the UK from Spain required to self-isolate for two weeks, David Sheppard answers key questions around the implications for workers.

12.50pm Carlisle Lake District Airport staff face job cuts

Over half of the workforce at Carlisle Lake District Airport could be at risk of losing their jobs because of the impact of the pandemic on the aviation industry. The airport announced 30 of the airport's current 50 roles could be cut. Last week, Carlisle Lake District Airport said it would not be resuming passenger flights. 

John Stevenson, MP for Carlisle, said the announcement was "very disappointing", but it was "not unexpected". He added: "We had great hopes. A year ago, everything was set for a very successful airport." However, airline Logainair grounded passenger services in March and said it had no plans to restart them at the Carlisle Lake District Airport. 

12.30pm Evening Standard to cut 115 jobs

The Evening Standard has announced it plans to cut 115 jobs – approximate a third of its staff – as the paper sees a drop in advertising because of the pandemic. The freesheet relies on advertising for 80 per cent of its revenue. In April, the Evening Standard imposed a 20 per cent pay cut on some staff and enrolled others in the government's furlough scheme. It also halted the publication of its weekly magazine ES until September. 

12pm Third of JD Wetherspoon head office jobs at risk of redundancy

A third of head office jobs at Wetherspoons are at risk of being made redundant because of the coronavirus pandemic. Chief executive John Hutson said a "possible 110 to 130 positions are at risk" out of the 417 workers stationed at the pub chain's headquarters. He said the move was "mainly a result of a downturn in trade in the pub and restaurant industry", but that "no firm decisions" on the number of jobs to go had yet been made. 

8.40am RSA to cut hundreds of jobs

Insurance company RSA has announced it will cut 300 jobs from its UK operations as the business seeks to further reduce running costs after the pandemic. It announced on Wednesday (5 August) a range of measures including a voluntary redundancy programme and offering staff the opportunity to request reduced working hours. RSA employs 5,300 people across the UK. 

Scott Egan, RSA's UK and international CEO, said the firm is committed to making sure it is in the best possible shape to "be there for our customers in a more certain future". In addition to the redundancy programme, he said: "We are taking a range of actions to reduce [operating costs] over time, including rethinking our physical office space, modernising our IT infrastructure, and simplifying our products and services." 

7.50am Welsh government confirms reopening of gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools

The Welsh government has confirmed the planned reopening of gyms, leisure centres, fitness studios and swimming pools will go ahead on Monday (10 August). Children's play centres will also be able to reopen next week, but areas that are not easy to clean – like ball pits – must remain closed to the public. 

The government said businesses will be legally required to minimise the risk of exposure to coronavirus on their premises, and councils will be given extra powers to enforce these requirements. 

7.30am Travelex cuts 1,300 jobs in UK

Foreign exchange firm Travelex announced it will cut more than 1,300 jobs in the UK as it entered into an administration deal. In January, Travelex was held ransom by hackers after a cyber attack forced it to turn off its systems. PwC, which was appointed administrators for Travelex, said this cyber attack followed by the Covid-19 crisis had hit the firm hard. It also said that a "pre-pack" administration deal had been reached which had saved 1,800 Travelex jobs across the UK. 

As part of the deal, Travelex airport branches and high street shops that were closed during lockdown will not reopen. Toby Banfield, joint administrator at PwC, said the deal had also ensured a further 3,635 jobs globally around the world. He added: "Unfortunately, as the majority of the UK retail business is no longer able to continue trading, it has regrettably resulted in 1,309 UK employees being made redundant today [6 August]."

Thursday 6 August

5pm Manchester Royal Mail delivery office hit by outbreak

A Royal Mail delivery office in Manchester has been hit by a coronavirus outbreak after 19 workers tested positive for the virus, according to the Communication Workers Union. The union said it expected all staff to be tested within the next three days and contract tracing had begun. A mobile testing unit was being set up at the Manchester delivery office on Oldham Road and the centre remained open, with employees continuing to work, according to the BBC. 

The announcement followed a major incident being declared on Monday (3 August) in Greater Manchester after a spike in coronavirus cases in the region. A Royal Mail spokesperson told the BBC the organisation had put a range of “preventative measures” in place and the site had been extensively cleaned. They added that Royal Mail was working with Public Health England to test all staff and that workers had been briefed on social distancing measures.  

4.30pm Bank of England boss backs end of furlough scheme

The Governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, has backed the government's decision to end its furlough scheme in October. He told the BBC it was important that policymakers helped workers "move forward" and not keep them in unproductive jobs, saying coronavirus would inevitably mean that some jobs became redundant. "It's been a very successful scheme, but [chancellor Rishi Sunak is] right to say we have to look forward now," he said. "I don't think we should be locking the economy down in a state that it pre-existed in." The bank said it expected unemployment to almost double from the current rate of 3.9 per cent to 7.5 per cent by the end of the year as government-funded support schemes come to an end. It said more workers faced a pay cut or freeze in 2020, adding: "In many cases, bonuses have been scaled back or withdrawn altogether for this year."

1.40pm Record number of Brits looking for work, study shows

Recruiters are seeing the steepest rise in the number of Brits seeking work since the 2008 financial crisis, according to research, as companies start to make redundancies in the wake of the furlough scheme winding down. The latest Report on Jobs survey, by the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) and KPMG, found the increase was particularly acute among those looking for temporary work, with numbers for this group rising in July at the fastest rate since records began in 1997.

The REC’s latest temporary staff availability index – based on a survey of recruiters and where a score more than 50 indicates an expansion in the number of jobseekers, while a score below 50 indicates a contraction – rose to 85 in July. This compared to 83.9 in June, and was also a marked rise compared to before the pandemic, with the index scoring 48.5 in February.

12.45pm Parents, carers and disabled twice as likely to face redundancy, report finds

Parents, carers and those with disabilities are twice as likely as the rest of the population to be at risk of redundancy, a survey has found. A poll of 6,000 people, conducted by Citizens Advice, found more than a quarter (27 per cent) of people with a disability were facing redundancy – increasing to 37 per cent among those who said their disability had a large impact on their day-to-day life – while 39 per cent of parents and carers were at risk of losing their job.

This compared to just 17 per cent of the working age population, suggesting that while the risk of redundancy was widespread, the most vulnerable were likely to bear the brunt of the downturn. The report, An unequal crisis, also found that half (48 per cent) of workers classed as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus and had, until the start of this month, been advised to shield, were now at risk of redundancy.

While acknowledging that most employers wanted “to do the right thing”, the report said the data showed many were not, raising concerns about fair redundancy processes, automatic unfair reasons for redundancy and discrimination.

12.30pm Bank of Ireland to cut 1,400 jobs

The Bank of Ireland has said it will aim to cut 1,400 jobs across the UK and Ireland after launching a group-wide voluntary redundancy programme. Francesca McDonagh, chief executive of the Bank of Ireland, told The Irish Times she had not set a limit for employees exiting under the redundancy scheme, but her target was to reduce the bank's workforce to below 9,000. However, she said, it was likely she could not meet this goal until after 2021. 

Currently, the bank employs almost 10,400 workers. Its voluntary redundancy scheme is set to close on 23 September. 

12.20pm Can employers enforce tests for Covid-19?

Lloyd Davey and Sarah Taylor explain the circumstances under which workplace coronavirus testing is legal, and what organisations should consider.

9.10am Arsenal to make 55 staff redundant

Football club Arsenal has announced its intention to make 55 employees redundant. The Premier League Club said it had been severely impacted by the pandemic and cited the move to reduce staff numbers as a necessary measure for the club's future. In a statement released on Wednesday (5 August), Raul Sanllehi, Arsenal's head of football, and Vinai Venkatesham, managing director of the club, said the main reasons for the proposal were severe decreases in broadcast, matchday and commercial revenues. 

The statement said the reduction in income made it clear Arsenal needed to reduce costs to "ensure we are operating in a sustainable and responsible way, and to enable us to continue to invest in the team". It read: "Our aim has been to protect the jobs and base salaries of our people for as long as we possibly can. Unfortunately, we have now come to the point where we are proposing 55 redundancies." It is understood the job cuts will be dispersed across some football departments as well as commercial and administrative roles. 

9am M&Co to close 47 stores and cut 380 jobs

Scottish fashion retailer M&Co has confirmed plans to permanently close 47 stores and cut 380 jobs. M&Co said it would continue to operate with 218 stores and 2,200 employees after completing a restructuring exercise. The redundancies, which have been made with immediate effect, consist of shop floor workers and staff at M&Co's offices in London and Glasgow. 

M&Co said its reduced network of local high street stores would strengthen its position for the future, “with the coronavirus outbreak reducing appetites to travel longer distances on public transport”. Chief executive Andy McGeogh said the retailer took a "huge financial hit" after shutting stores in March because of the lockdown. He said: "We reopened most stores in June and have been exploring every possible option, but it was obvious that the business, as previously structured, would remain under severe pressure from the ongoing challenges of Covid-19."

8.45am Aecom to cut up to 500 jobs

Construction consultant Aecom is to cut up to 500 jobs across the UK and Ireland as a result of the pandemic. Aecom employs around 7,000 people across the UK. A spokesperson for the company’s UK and Ireland arm said the pandemic heavily impacted Aecom's clients and competitors, and it would be undergoing a restructuring programme to ensure the future of the business. The spokesperson added: “As a result of this we have taken the difficult decision to reshape our business to better meet the demands of our markets and help us continue to provide the best services for our clients. In support of this restructuring, we are beginning a consultation process across the region, which may affect up to 500 roles.”

7.40am Hotel chain LGH puts 1,500 jobs at risk

Hotel management giant LGH has announced almost 1,500 staff in England and Scotland are at risk of redundancy because of the coronavirus crisis. LGH manages 55 properties, including some Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Hallmark hotels, and about 2,500 employees on behalf of the hotels. The company said more than half of these roles were at risk. Joanne Monk, group people and development director at LGH, said no final decisions had been made about the number of jobs that would be cut. But she said LGH hotels were being run by a small number of staff at present, and this was likely to continue for some time. 

7.30am Two-thirds of shielders happy to return to work

Two-thirds (68 per cent) of people shielding from coronavirus who worked before the outbreak would be comfortable returning to the workplace so long as the proper safety measures were in place, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have found. The data, released today, showed that just 6 per cent of clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people had no intention of returning to work in the next four months.

In England, 2.2 million people were classed as CEV, and the ONS estimated that about a third of these people worked before receiving advice to shield.

Wednesday 5 August

3pm Local lockdown in Aberdeen as Covid cluster grows

First minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that lockdown restrictions are being reimposed in Aberdeen as a result of a rise in coronavirus cases in the city. People are being told not to travel to the city, and those living in Aberdeen face travel restrictions. Additionally, pubs and restaurants will have to close from 5pm tonight (5 August). 

Sturgeon said there were now 54 cases in the "significant outbreak", and that community transmission could not be ruled out. People living in the Aberdeen city area are being told not to travel more than five miles for leisure purposes. Travelling for work or education is permitted, but other travel is not advised. 

The restrictions will be reviewed next Wednesday (12 August) and may be extended further if necessary. 

1.40pm Back to the office FAQs: how should HR approach returning staff to their desks?

From 1 August, the government changed its longstanding advice that employees should work from home if possible, instead telling employers in England that it would be up to them to decide whether it was safe for staff to return to workplaces.

This has signalled something of a green light for businesses considering asking staff to return to offices, with some announcing employees will be returning over the coming weeks. But what steps can HR take to ensure workplaces are safe? And what should employers do if staff don’t want to come back to the office? People Management asked employment lawyers and HR professionals for their advice on best practice.  

12.50pm Coronavirus exec pay cuts ‘superficial or short term’, says CIPD

No FTSE 100 company making cuts to executive pay during the coronavirus outbreak has changed its long-term incentive plan, the latest annual high pay report from the CIPD and the High Pay Centre has said, branding the measures “superficial or short term”.

Out of the top 100 companies listed in the UK, just 36 made cuts to CEO pay in response to the economic downturn caused by Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown. The most common action, taken by 14 firms, was to cut salary by 20 per cent, with two companies announcing they were deferring their CEO’s salary increase. However, the report said, salary was often only a small portion of a CEO’s full pay packet.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said the coronavirus outbreak had proved not to be an “inflection point” for executive pay. “The bulk of cuts made so far appear to be short term and don’t signify meaningful, long-term change,” he said.

12.30pm Metro Bank office staff can work from home until 'after flu season'

Metro Bank has said it will not ask staff to return to the office until the winter flu season is over, citing the potential for a rise in coronavirus cases during the winter months. This means the firm's 1,400 head office and back office employees will not be expected back in the workplace before 2021. The bank added that the success of flexible working meant staff were unlikely to ever return to offices full time, with an internal survey finding just 4 per cent of its office staff wanted to return to workplaces five days a week. 

Chief executive Daniel Frumkin said: "Everybody tells me flu season will be difficult, and it doesn’t seem prudent to let people back in the office in October, staring into a winter that could be very difficult. It seems much more prudent to revisit the topic once we see what the winter unfolds like."

12.05pm The implications of furlough abuse

Richard Fox explains the consequences employers can expect to face if they have intentionally or accidentally misused the job retention scheme.

12pm Creating a return to work culture

Liz Beck outlines the key areas businesses need to focus on as they start to welcome employees back into the workplace.

11.40am WH Smith to consider cutting 1,500 jobs

WH Smith is considering cutting 1,500 jobs after lockdown caused sales to plummet. The company, which employs more than 14,000 people, saw a 92 per cent drop in revenue from its shops in airports and rail stations during the first month of lockdown. Its best-performing division – its 612 high street shops – were still down 25 per cent on the previous year in July – after lockdown had eased. 

Carl Cowling, chief executive of WH Smith group, said that while there had been some progress since the relaxation of lockdown, footfall had dropped because of the pandemic. "We now need to take further action to reduce costs across our businesses. I regret that this will have an impact on a significant number of colleagues whose roles will be affected by these necessary actions," he said.

8.10am William Hill to close 119 shops

William Hill has announced it will not reopen 119 high street betting shops closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, saying it did not expect customers to return to its physical venues in the numbers seen before the pandemic. The company, which has 1,500 outlets, did not say how many jobs could be affected, but said the majority of staff would be redeployed within the business.

The betting company also confirmed it would be repaying the £24.5m it received from the government’s furlough scheme, citing the firm’s strong financial performance since the easing of lockdown. 

Tuesday 4 August

1.20pm Furlough fraud reports rise by 53 per cent in three weeks, official data shows

The number of reported cases of fraudulent coronavirus job retention scheme reports has risen steeply, official figures show, as the government starts to wind down this support. As of 22 July, HMRC had received 6,749 reports of ‘furlough fraud’, compared to around 4,400 at the end of June. This represents a 53 per cent rise in reported cases in just three weeks.

The rise came as official figures showed more than 9.6 million jobs have been furloughed as of 2 August, with 1.2 million employers using the scheme. While the latest figures have added to concerns about abuse of the scheme, experts warned that many employers might also be inadvertently falling foul of furlough rules. Matthew Sharp, senior associate at Fieldfisher, told People Management he doubted much of the reported furlough fraud was intentional. He said the lack of clarity around the scheme, coupled with employers “rushing to save jobs and plan the future of their business”, was inevitably going to lead to mistakes. 

12.40pm Dixons Carphone to cut 800 store management jobs

Dixons Carphone has said it plans to cut 800 jobs as part of efforts to streamline its in-store management. The chain, which owns Currys PC World, said it was "not an easy decision", but the move would allow a "flatter management structure" as it adapts to rising online sales because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Mark Allsop, chief executive of Dixons Carphone, said: "We'll do everything possible to look after those colleagues we can't find new roles for, financially and otherwise." 

Dixons Carphone had already made a round of redundancies before lockdown when it closed its 531 Carphone Warehouse shops and the company shifted its mobile phone sales to its Currys PC World stores.

11.30am 1,100 jobs at risk as PizzaExpress plans to close restaurants

PizzaExpress has said it plans to close around 67 restaurants around the UK, 15 per cent of its 449 branches, putting up to 1,100 jobs at risk. The chain blamed the move on a "significantly more challenging environment" caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and said it hopes to launch a restructuring deal in the near future.

The company said the deal would help protect the majority of staff by putting the business on a "stronger financial footing in the new socially distanced environment", and insisted the final outcome of the plan had "yet to be decided". 

9.10am Girlguiding starts redundancy consultation

Girlguiding has announced it has begun a month-long consultation with staff as it faced a £4m drop in funding as a result of the pandemic. In a statement, Angela Salt, chief executive of Girlguiding, said the charity's activities and services had been severely impacted by the crisis and it was now acting to "secure the long-term sustainability" of the organisation. 

The charity was unable to confirm the number of roles at risk of redundancy, saying the final number would not be known until the consultation concluded, but it would attempt to minimise job cuts where possible. Salt added: "We are deeply saddened that we are in this difficult financial position, like many others as a result of the impact of Covid-19, and are now having to take cost-saving measures to sustain us for the future. We are not alone in the charity sector in needing to make valued staff redundant and reduce costs."

8.40am M&S to reopen 102 cafes for government 'eat out to help out' scheme

M&S has announced it is reopening more than 100 more cafes across the UK to encourage footfall as part of the government's ‘eat out to help out’ scheme. The scheme offers customers a 50 per cent discount up to £10 a head on food and non-alcoholic drinks from Monday to Wednesday. The government hopes this will help revitalise the hard-hit food and drink sector. 

M&S said it now has a total of 303 cafes across the UK open for dine-in services, and a further 17 cafes open for takeaway only. 

Monday 3 August 

3.50pm Hays Travel to axe almost 880 jobs

Travel agent chain Hays Travel has announced it is to cut up to 878 jobs as a result of the negative impact the global pandemic has had on the travel and leisure sector. The independent chain has a total workforce of 4,500 people across the UK. In a joint statement, Hays Travel owners John and Irene Hays said the decision by the UK government to ban travel to Spain and the changes in the furlough scheme meant they have had to re-evaluate how the business operates, which has led to the need to cut jobs.

They said: “We are also devastated for everyone who may lose their job, and we will do all we can in consultations to help them, as we focus on retaining as many people as possible and rebuilding consumer confidence through our renowned friendly and knowledgeable customer service.”

1.50pm More than half of furloughed employees have returned to work, analysis suggests

More than half of furloughed workers have now returned to work, according to an estimate produced through analysis of official figures. Figures from HMRC showed that, as of 26 July, 9.5 million people had been placed on furlough. However, analysis by the Resolution Foundation suggested fewer than half that number were still on the job retention scheme today.

The research, based on three separate surveys by the Office for National Statistics, estimated that the actual number of people on furlough as of the beginning of August was likely to be below 4.5 million and could be as low as three million. The release of these figures coincided with the beginning of the next phase of the furlough scheme. As of Saturday (1 August), employers were required to pay national insurance contributions for furloughed employees. This is set to increase again from 1 September, when employers will also be asked to contribute at least 10 per cent of furloughed employees’ wages, going up to 20 per cent in October, the last month of the scheme. 

1.30pm Baby boomers suffer largest coronavirus earnings drop, study finds

Baby boomers have suffered a larger drop in earnings because of coronavirus pay cuts than younger workers, and are just as likely to have been furloughed, a study has found. Research by the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK’s financial watchdog, found baby boomers – defined as those born between 1946 and 1965 – saw on average a 23 per cent decrease in earnings because of the coronavirus crisis. 

This compared to a 19 per cent drop in earnings among millennials – born between 1981 and 2000 – and a 17 per cent reduction for generation X, defined as being born between 1966 and 1980. However, although older workers’ earnings fell more sharply, they were still less likely to be in financial difficulties than their younger counterparts as they tended to have higher incomes to start with and more savings.

12.20pm DW Sports falls into administration leaving 1,700 jobs under threat

Sports retailer and gym group DW Sports has announced it will go into administration after its income was negatively affected by the closure of stores and gyms during lockdown. The company operated 73 gyms and 75 stores across the UK, employing almost 1,700 staff across both sides of the business. 

The retailer announced plans to shut 25 of its stores last month. But the company said it will now wind down its retail business for good, with its website ceasing trading with immediate effect and closing-down sales starting at its 50 remaining stores. It said it plans to protect as many jobs and gyms as possible through the restructuring process. 

11.55am How to support shielding employees as they return to work

Businesses should communicate effectively with their more vulnerable staff, and ensure they prioritise their emotional wellbeing, says Brendan Street.

11.50am What does the government’s latest return to work guidance change?

Melanie Lane and Catherine Taylor look at what recent clarifications from Westminster mean for employers considering bringing workers back to the office.

11.45am London risks no longer being a 'fun' place to work, economist says

London could have lost its aura as a ‘fun’ place to work, particularly in the digital and creative industries, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, according to Pablo Shah, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). “We had a management meeting in the office last Tuesday and were able to see what London looks like as the lockdown eases. To be frank, it looked like a ghost town,” Shah told the Guardian. “London last week did not look very attractive to the talent it needs.”

Since Saturday (1 August), employers in England have been allowed to judge whether staff can safely return to offices, but many are taking a cautious approach. The CEBR has predicted that, in 2021, the ‘new normal’ will be 30 per cent of London-based employees still working at home on any one day, equating to £178m lost spending on lunch, after-work drinks, coffee/tea, snacks, stationery and other office equipment each month, with London faring even worse and the effect on its GDP potentially “a huge multiple of this”, according to Shah.

10.30am Furloughed workers three times as likely to default on a payment, Which? finds

Furloughed workers are three times more likely than other employees to have defaulted on a payment last month, according to a survey by Which? It found that 13 per cent of those furloughed, put on enforced leave or forced to reduce their hours because of the coronavirus crisis have defaulted on at least one payment, compared to 4 per cent of those still working as normal. Additionally, 6 per cent of workers on the scheme reported that they had missed a loan or credit card payment in the previous four weeks. Of those with a mortgage or renting, 5 per cent had already defaulted on a housing payment – twice the default rate for the normally working population.

Richard Piggin, head of campaigns at Which?, said: “Despite extensive action being taken by the government and the banking industry, it’s very worrying that people currently on the furlough scheme have reported experiencing much higher levels of financial difficulty than those who are working as normal. With just a couple of months until the scheme comes to an end, there is real concern that this gap could widen even further.”

9.30am Senior managers forced to take pay cuts, CMI report finds

Just under one-fifth of senior UK managers took pay cuts during the pandemic and almost half said business had suffered as companies were forced to put operations on hold. A poll of almost 2,000 members of the Chartered Management Institute on behalf of the Financial Times showed almost all companies had asked employees to work from home during the crisis and one in five said none of their staff had yet returned. More than a third said they had started to bring workers back to offices and a similar proportion said they would do so before the end of the year. One-fifth reported having to make redundancies and more than two-fifths of those where business had been affected said trading had still not returned to normal. 

9am British Airways pilots vote to accept pay cut and jobs deal

British Airways pilots have voted to accept a deal that will temporarily cut pay by 20 per cent and result in 270 job losses, according to pilots union Balpa. The pay cut will reduce to 8 per cent over two years, eventually returning employees to pre-pandemic pay levels. The union said the deal would also prevent a “fire and rehire” scheme whereby staff were let go and returned on new contracts with “worse conditions”. 

Brian Strutton, general secretary of Balpa, said BA staff made a “pragmatic decision in the circumstances”, but the fact that “we were unable to persuade BA to avoid all compulsory redundancies is bitterly disappointing”. BA proposed to make 12,000 staff redundant, with 1,255 pilot jobs at risk. Balpa said the deal would result in an estimated 270 compulsory redundancies, although it said the number was “likely to fall” as BA would be working with the union to mitigate the impact of the changes.   

8.45am Quarter of Comic Relief staff at risk of redundancy 

Comic Relief has announced it is undergoing a consultation process to manage the fallout of Covid-19, which will result in the charity making 25 per cent of its workforce redundant. The fundraising charity told Third Sector that it was looking to save more than £5m in running costs following the pandemic. It anticipated 60 members of staff would be made redundant following the consultation, which began in early July and will end this month. 

The restructure will impact all levels of staff across Comic Relief and reduce costs by more than £3.2m. Ruth Davison, interim chief executive of Comic Relief, said: “I feel personally responsible for the staff, who I know are very worried about losing their jobs in this economic situation, and many of whom are my friends. I feel accountable for them and worried for them. But ultimately we have to do what is right for the charity beneficiaries and for our funded organisations.”

8.30am British Heart Foundation places 300 jobs at risk 

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has put up to 300 jobs at risk of redundancy as a result of projections that it will lose half of its expected annual income because of the pandemic. The charity announced on Friday (31 July) it would be consulting with staff on cost-saving measures as it said it could take “many years” for its funding to return to pre-pandemic levels. BHF had to close its 750 shops and cancel most fundraising events because of the lockdown. 

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, BHF’s chief executive, said the charity had “left no stone unturned” to find new ways of generating income and reducing costs, but it must consider reducing the size of its workforce. Griffiths added: “This has been an incredibly difficult decision and it will be even harder for those people who may leave our BHF team. We deeply regret the impact this may have on those colleagues who are affected and will explore every avenue to minimise the number of job losses, including through the re-allocation of roles within the organisation.”

Friday 31 July

3.15pm Opening of close-contact businesses delayed for ‘at least a fortnight’

In an update this afternoon, prime minister Boris Johnson announced that planned business reopenings for 1 August would be delayed for “at least a fortnight” due to a spike in cases in the north east of England. 

Venues such as casinos, bowling alleys and skating rinks will have to delay opening, and beauty salons will have to postpone offering treatments that involve the face such as eyelash tinting and eyebrow threading. 

Indoor performances will also not resume and pilots of larger gatherings in sports venues and conference centres will not take place. Additionally, the planned expansion of wedding receptions to allow up to 30 people will not be permitted.

1.30pm Charities urge employers not to return shielding staff to work

Shielding workers could find themselves in an “impossible position” from next week, with some employers potentially demanding vulnerable staff return to work before it is safe to do so, an open letter to the chancellor has warned.

With the scheme to protect shielding individuals coming to an end, 15 charities have written to Rishi Sunak warning that workers could be forced to choose between their health and jobs if asked to return. The group, including Age UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and Diabetes UK, warned that vulnerable employees may be placed at risk of redundancy and called on the government to protect these jobs.

“Our concern is that, especially as [the] furlough arrangements start to unwind and the shielding scheme is paused from next week, some of these workers will find themselves in an impossible position,” the letter stated.

1pm Safeguarding BAME employees when returning to work

Research shows ethnic minorities are being disproportionately affected by Covid-19. Rebecca Hayes explains how employers can make sure they protect workers going back to the office

9.30am Property agents report signs of remote working revolution

Landlords and property agents report that a mass exodus from UK offices may be on the cards as the coronavirus lockdown drives a remote working revolution. Nine in 10 agents and landlords said they expected companies to scale back on office space in the next two years, with rents set to decline as firms opt for smaller, cheaper sites, according to a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics). The poll showed that more than half of respondents expected more businesses to base themselves in suburban offices rather than city centres. Rics said office rents were likely to fall by between 4 per cent to 7 per cent in the next 12 months, while the dip in demand could see retail rents decline by up to 14 per cent.

Meanwhile a Guardian analysis has shown that many of England’s biggest businesses are set to defy the government’s push to get workers back into offices in August, with many big businesses sticking to home working arrangements or delaying a partial return until September at the earliest. Law firms, insurers, energy providers and tech firms are among those reacting cautiously to the change in government advice, which means from tomorrow (1 August) employers can decide whether staff can safely come back to offices. Some companies, such as Google and NatWest Group, are allowing workers to stay at home until 2021.

9.15am Boeing warns of further job cuts

Boeing, which in May said it would cut 10 per cent of its 160,000 strong workforce, has warned that it is considering further job cuts as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to staff, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said the impact of the pandemic had caused “further reductions in our production rates and lower demand for commercial services, meaning we’ll have to further assess the size of our workforce.” The Chicago-based company had 161,100 workers at the start of the year.

9am Labour launches campaign against ending furlough

Labour has launched a campaign over mass coronavirus job losses, saying the gradual removal of the furlough scheme is a “historic mistake”. Labour leader Keir Starmer will officially launch a ‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs’ campaign today with a visit to a company in Peterborough. His party will argue that the job retention scheme should be changed so it continues to support the worst-hit industries beyond October. Labour’s plan also calls for an increase in sick pay, investment in new jobs based around green technologies, and more money to help struggling businesses and shops, with particular assistance for areas put into local lockdowns.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds, said: “The chancellor’s refusal to abandon his one-size-fits-all withdrawal of furlough is a historic mistake that risks a python-like squeeze on jobs in the worst-hit sectors. The reward for months of hard work and sacrifice by the British people cannot be a P45. It’s not too late for the chancellor to see sense, change course and support the businesses and sectors that need it most. But even if he does, there is still much to do. The government should back viable businesses that are still impacted by coronavirus, support the self-employed and come up with a plan to drive job creation as we emerge from the pandemic.”

8.30am Tui moves hundreds of high street store staff to home working

Tui is to shut 166 stores in the UK and Ireland and shift staff to a home working operation, as the coronavirus pandemic speeds up the trend of booking holidays online rather than on the high street. The store closures would affect 900 staff, the tour operator said, adding that its strategy would save the vast majority from losing their jobs. The company, which specialises in package holidays, said about 630 of the workers affected would move into a remote sales and service team, with some moved to vacancies at its remaining high street stores. UK staff will avoid job cuts, with the remaining 270 roles to be cut through the closure of overseas customer service centres outsourced to third party providers, said Andrew Flintham, managing director of Tui UK & Ireland. “We have world-class advisers at Tui, so we hope many of them will become homeworkers and continue to offer the personalised service we know our customers value,” he said.

Thursday 30 July

5.25pm Government gives further extension to visas due to expire at the end of the month

The government yesterday announced that it would extend the leave to remain for travellers holding visas that expire at the end of the month – giving people until 31 August to remain in the UK – in a move that has given “some comfort” to businesses and individuals affected.

Those whose visas were due to expire between 24 January and 31 July will have their leave automatically extended, said Chetal Patel, partner at Bates Wells. However, those expecting to stay beyond 31 August were urged to contact the Home Office and ensure they have the right paperwork in place.

“We’ve been eagerly waiting for this latest update and it was right up against the wire with less than three days before the previous concessions were due to lapse,” said Patel. “We’ve seen the impact worldwide on the ever-changing Covid-19 landscape and, while this latest announcement will provide some comfort to those affected, we are still left with unanswered questions.

“It’s clear that the Home Office will have to take a pragmatic approach to considering these applications but we won’t know how this translates in real terms just yet.”

3.30pm Greggs will not pay staff forced into quarantine after Spanish holiday 

Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside has said his company will not pay staff who are forced to quarantine after returning from Spain, according to iNews. The high street bakery boss said this also extended to other destinations taken off the government’s air bridge scheme, and that the firm had been “absolutely explicit” in warning staff about the risks of travelling.

Whiteside said: “You can’t expect the company to pay for your quarantine if you’ve chosen to take the risk that you’d go abroad and then find that you’ve then got to quarantine when you get back. So we won’t be paying for that quarantine.”

1.40pm Furloughed staff guaranteed redundancy pay based on full wages under new law

Employees made redundant while on furlough will be guaranteed redundancy pay based on their normal wage and not their furloughed rate under new legislation. Under the change, furloughed workers would also be entitled to statutory notice pay equivalent to their normal wages, and any future unfair dismissal cases would be based on their full wages rather than pay under the furlough scheme, which can in some cases be substantially lower than an employee’s contracted pay.

Business secretary Alok Sharma said the new rules would ensure employees on the job retention scheme were not “short changed” if made redundant. However, Charles Cotton, senior performance and reward adviser at the CIPD, said it was unclear how big the problem was, or whether it stemmed from employers trying to take advantage of the current situation or a genuine misunderstanding of the complicated and constantly changing furlough rules. Smaller businesses in particular were likely to struggle with understanding and complying with the rules. “It’s important for the government to let employers know what furloughed workers are entitled to,” he said.

1.20pm More than half of workers will continue to work remotely in the short term, poll finds

A survey of businesses has found 52 per cent intend to continue working remotely for the next few months, with just 19 per cent planning to go back to the office on a part-time basis and another 19 per cent going back full time. The poll of 94 organisations, conducted by The Chartered Governance Institute and recruitment firm The Core Partnership, found 90 per cent of respondents felt their employer had effectively communicated about the return to work throughout lockdown.

“It is clear from the responses that many respondents will continue to work remotely for the time being, but envisage having more flexibility about where to work when they do return to the office,” said Peter Swabey, policy and research director at The Chartered Governance Institute.

1pm How can HR encourage staff to socially distance when back at work?

From the beginning of August it will be the responsibility of employers to decide whether employees can safely return to the office. Social distancing will be an important part of keeping staff safe, but adhering to the rules can be difficult. People Management asked employment lawyers and HR professionals for their top tips on encouraging and enforcing social distancing in the workplace.

11.30am Treating BAME staff more harshly could be life threatening in the current climate

Ethnic minority employees are routinely subjected to more formal processes, with repercussions for their progression and wellbeing, argues Tinu Cornish. Data on Covid-19 deaths show that BAME people are more susceptible to the virus, and Cornish argues that going through “a long disciplinary process could literally be life threatening in the present climate”.

9.40am National Trust looks to make 1,200 redundancies

The National Trust could make up to 1,200 redundancies as part of a plan to save £100m this year because of the coronavirus outbreak. Announcing the start of its consultation process today, the charity said it had been hit hard by the lockdown, which forced it to close all its houses, gardens, shops and cafes, and put a stop to events. The charity’s director general, Hilary McGrady, said that even with the savings, ongoing social distancing measures and the expected hit on revenue meant a full review of the organisation's spending priorities.

“It is deeply upsetting to face losing colleagues and we are committed to supporting all of those affected. Sadly, we have no other course of action left open,” said McGrady. “In making these changes now, I am confident we will be well-placed to face the challenges ahead, protecting the places that visitors love and ensuring our conservation work continues long into the future.”

Wednesday 29 July

5pm Barclays boss wants employees to return to the office 

Barclays chief executive Jes Staley has indicated he wants employees currently working from home because of the pandemic to return to the office “over time”, according to a BBC report. The banking boss, who had previously suggested big city offices may be a thing of the past, said it was important to get people back together in “physical concentrations”. "We want our people back together, to make sure we ensure the evolution of our culture and our controls, and I think that will happen over time," he said.

Barclays currently has 60,000 employees working remotely, with another 20,000 in offices, branches and call centres.

1.40pm When should employers repay furlough grants?

With some firms choosing to give back their job retention scheme payments amid reputational risk, Sungjin Park explains what organisations should consider. 

1.30pm Three in five employers have cancelled work experience because of Covid-19, research reveals

A YouGov poll of 1,005 HR decision makers in British businesses, conducted as part of the Sutton Trust’s latest Covid-19 impact brief, found 61 per cent of employers have cancelled some or all of their work experience and internship placements, including half (49 per cent) of SMEs and almost a third (29 per cent) of larger employers.

The survey also found that almost half (48 per cent) of these employers expected there would be fewer work experience opportunities in their businesses over the next year, while 39 per cent of graduate employers reported they were likely to hire fewer or no graduates at all over the same time period.

11am Over-65s see biggest drop in hours worked since the pandemic

The average number of hours worked by the over-65s in employment fell from 20.2 between January and March this year to 16.1 between March and May – a drop of 20.3 per cent, according to Rest Less. Analysis of data from the Office for National Statistics by the jobs site also found that 18 to 24-year-olds were “very close behind”, with the number of hours worked by this demographic falling from 28.2 hours per person between January and March this year to 22.5 between March and May – a drop of 20.2 per cent.

Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, called on the government to introduce a programme similar to the furlough scheme specifically aimed at protecting older workers. “All age groups have seen a drop in the average number of hours worked in the last three months but data shows that the over-65s are the most impacted group, likely because of the number of people in this age group who have had to shield or self-isolate,” he said.

9.50am Offices ‘important’ for work-life balance, says PwC boss

The boss of one of the big five accountancy firms has said offices are an important part of getting the right work-life balance, and that virtual tools are “no substitute for human contact”. Writing in the Financial Times, Kevin Ellis, chairman of PwC, said that while lockdown has proved to some that office workers can work just as effectively from home, “it has proved to me the importance of offices to the work-life balance equation… Teams need to come together, people need to coach others and ideas need to be developed with clients in a face-to-face environment.”

Defending his decision to reopen all of PwC’s UK offices and encourage staff back to work, Ellis added that a return to the workplace would also support shops and restaurants near the firm’s headquarters.

Tuesday 28 July

3pm High street retailer Selfridges to cut 450 jobs

Department store Selfridges has become the latest UK high street retailer to make redundancies amid the coronavirus pandemic, announcing its “toughest decision” to cut 450 jobs. 

Group managing director Anne Pitcher said the cuts, which represent 14 per cent of its workforce, are a direct result of how coronavirus has changed the way people “work, shop and socialise”. A consultation period with staff who opted for voluntary redundancy is already underway, but the Guardian reported other options are also being considered, including reducing employee working hours and offering employees career breaks.

2pm What qualities do leaders need for an increasingly VUCA world?

Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – VUCA was coined by the US Army War College in the 1990s to describe a new world of military engagement at the end of the cold war. The acronym has been embraced by business leaders as it provides a practical code for awareness and business readiness to view the challenges organisations are facing in today’s world. The recent pandemic has reignited the commentary about the initialism, and Opemipo Koshemani argues curiosity, creativity and critical thinking will all be crucial traits as organisations tackle a new normal post Covid-19.

1.40pm The impact of increased home working on HR

With the coronavirus pandemic and consequential lockdown forcing many to work from home, the question arises as to whether working from home will become the new normal. Although lockdown measures have started to relax, many employers are seeing their staff either wanting to continue working from home, if possible, or refusing to come back to the office. Chris Cook explores whether working remotely will become the status quo, and how it will change the role of the people profession.

1.30pm Redundancy FAQs: how to run a fair process

Making redundancies is never easy, but following a proper process can help businesses avoid legal and reputational risk. People Management asks experts for guidance on some key questions, including on making a justifiable case, selection criteria and avoiding reputational damage.

9.40am British Airways staff threaten strike over restructure plan

Union Unite has warned British Airways that it plans to launch a strike over the airline’s plans to restructure in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the BBC has reported. In April, IAG, which owns BA, announced plans to cut around 12,000 jobs and renegotiate the terms of the employment contracts of the remaining staff – warning that if an arrangement on contracts could not be reached, employees could be given their notice and rehired on new terms.

The change in contract could see BA staff take a pay cut and a move to less favourable terms and conditions. Unite, which represents thousands of BA workers, accused the airline of operating a ‘fire and rehire’ policy. BA said Unite’s position was “disappointing” and that it was doing everything it could to save jobs.

The aviation industry has been one of the worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak, with other large firms including easyJet, Rolls-Royce and Airbus all announcing job losses. 

9.30am Ratio of unemployment benefit claimants to vacancies soars during outbreak

The ratio of the number of people claiming unemployment benefits to the number of job vacancies has increased fivefold since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, figures from the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and published in the Guardian have shown. The IES has estimated there are now eight people claiming support for every one job opening, compared to 1.5 people per job opening in March.

Monday 27 July 

3.20pm G4S to cut more than a quarter of jobs in cash-handling business

G4S has announced that it will cut more than a quarter of jobs in its cash-handling business, Cash Solutions UK, because of a fall in cash transactions during the coronavirus crisis, as the government and businesses have been encouraging shoppers to pay by card or contactless. 

The security firm has started a consultation process that could result in 1,150 redundancies across the UK and Ireland, with drivers of armoured vehicles carrying cash for business thought to be among those at risk. The company has said it hopes to find alternative jobs within G4S for those affected by the cuts.

G4S Cash Solutions UK managing director Paul van der Knaap said: “Regrettably, this [restructure] will result in a reduction in headcount and today we have entered into a period of consultation with affected staff.”

1.45pm The importance of apprenticeships to the UK’s long-term recovery

Employers need to ensure the training and development of the UK’s young talent doesn’t stall as the country recovers from the pandemic. Apprenticeship programmes are an important part of this, providing a learning structure and valuable work experience that can help nurture skills and foster future business leaders, argue Justine Campbell and Laura Keen.

1.30pm Half of mums made redundant during Covid-19 cite lack of childcare, study reveals

Just under half (46 per cent) of mothers made redundant or expecting to be made redundant during the Covid-19 crisis say lack of childcare provision played a role, a study of nearly 20,000 mothers and pregnant women has found. The poll, by Pregnant Then Screwed, showed that many mothers faced reduced working hours because of childcare issues, with 72 per cent forced to cut back to care for children.

Joeli Brearley, chief executive and founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, said the lack of childcare was “destroying women’s careers”. “They are being made redundant, they are being forced to cut their hours and they are being treated negatively all because they are picking up the unpaid labour required to keep the country going,” she said.

Of the employed mothers surveyed, four-fifths (81 per cent) said they needed childcare to be able to work, but half (51 per cent) did not have the necessary childcare in place to enable them to do their job during lockdown. The poll also found one in 10 (11 per cent) women on maternity leave had been made or expected to be made redundant. Of these women, 70 per cent were black, 27 per cent disabled and 47 per cent single mothers.

12.45pm Third of workers want a vaccine or antibody test before returning to work, poll finds

More than one in three workers want a Covid-19 vaccine or antibody test to be ready before they return to the workplace, a survey of 2,000 workers conducted by Canada Life has found. Of those respondents working from home since the start of lockdown, 35 per cent said they would like a vaccine or antibody test to be available before coming back to the physical workplace.

Nearly one in five (18 per cent) said they wanted regular temperature checks, 21 per cent wanted coronavirus testing in the office, and 22 per cent wanted office spaces to be rearranged to better facilitate social distancing.

Paul Avis, strategic proposition director at Canada Life, said it was not surprising that workers were anxious about returning to the workplace. “After such a long period of time working from home, many of us have developed new ways of working and fallen into new routines,” he said.

11.50am Employers urged not to penalise workers caught by Spanish quarantine rules

The UK has removed Spain from its quarantine exemption list, meaning travellers returning from the country now have to self-isolate for two weeks. The government has urged employers to be “understanding” of workers caught by the sudden change in the rules – which came into force yesterday – and who now have to self-isolate for 14 days on their return. However, it stopped short of making any provisions to protect workers unable to work during this period.

Paul Holcroft, associate director at Croner, said employers will have to agree to a period of home working, further annual leave or a period of unpaid leave with employees unable to work because they are self-isolating. In a string of tweets, Holcroft added that statutory sick pay was not payable for this type of isolation. “Advice is changing weekly; keep checking the current situation in case it changes before staff come back, and also for other countries being added/removed from the list,” he said.

9am Beauty salons and tattoo parlours reopen in Wales

Wales has officially reopened beauty salons and tattoo parlours today as a result of the easing of lockdown restrictions. Nail bars, spas and tanning shops can also open their doors, but customers may have to wait longer for facials and eyebrow and eyelash treatments as guidelines warn they are too high risk. 

Welsh government guidance strongly advises beauticians against performing facial treatments, but states that if they choose to perform them they must wear a fluid resistant surgical face mask, goggles, disposable gloves and an apron, and be fully trained in using personal protective equipment safely.

Friday 24 July

1.40pm School closures could impact future workforce for generations, study warns

School time lost because of the coronavirus pandemic could hurt the UK economy for decades, a study has warned, with many young people losing out on critical skills and growth in the future. The research said the disruption to lessons will have a negative impact on the future skills of the workforce for the next 50 years, costing billions in a reduced growth rate.

The report, compiled by Delve, a multi-disciplinary group brought together by the Royal Society, has called on the government to prioritise reopening schools and getting students back into education to mitigate the effects on the future workforce. It said there is a “huge base of evidence” showing that earnings are linked to education and skills, meaning losing out on school time would have negative economic consequences for future generations. Without action from the government, it estimated that around a quarter of the UK’s workforce will have lower skills well into the 2080s. 

1.10pm Employers’ hiring confidence improves for the first time since lockdown

Employers’ hiring confidence has improved for the first time since February as lockdown measures are eased, according to a poll of businesses. The latest JobsOutlook survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) found that the majority of 200 businesses polled were positive about hiring and investment decisions for the first time since lockdown.

Of the employers polled, 32 per cent said they expected their organisation’s confidence in hiring to improve, compared to 28 per cent who expected it to worsen. This put the REC’s hiring confidence score –  which subtracts the percentage of businesses that are not confident about making hiring and investment decisions from the percentage that are – reached +4 in the first half of July, up from -9 in June, indicating that, on balance, hiring outlook had improved.

12.50pm Employers must act to restore their workforce’s mental wellbeing

To mitigate the psychological health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, organisations need to take proactive steps now, says Louise Abbs.

12.30pm Alzheimer's Society warns of up to 300 job cuts

The Alzheimer’s Society is expecting to have to make up to 300 roles redundant, which represents 20 per cent of its workforce, because of the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the organisation. The charity estimated the pandemic would result in a £45m loss of income over the next financial year. In a statement, the Alzheimer's Society said a workforce change programme was underway to decide a timescale for potential job losses. 

It also said the charity would be considering how to deliver as much impact as possible while spending significantly less money including increasing its digital offering. The Alzheimer's Society said it would also be reviewing its property portfolio to see if it can manage operations with less office accommodation. 

11.50am Quarter of Jersey firms expect to make job cuts

A quarter of businesses in Jersey say they will employ fewer people by the end of summer as three-quarters say their profits have slumped since the beginning of the pandemic, according to research. The data, compiled by Statistics Jersey, found the financial sector  – one of the largest sectors in Jersey – reported 49 per cent of firms had seen a fall in profits. As a result, 16 per cent of finance firms expected to lay off staff between now and September, compared to 27 per cent of non-finance businesses. 

The data also found 100 per cent of businesses in the hospitality industry reported their profits were down, 85 per cent were employing fewer people and 85 per cent were pessimistic about their future. The survey found 34 per cent of businesses in Jersey had asked employees to work reduced hours because of the pandemic, while just 3 per cent recruited new staff to their business. 

9.20am Blood Cancer UK proposes cutting quarter of workforce

Blood Cancer UK has proposed cutting more than a quarter of its workforce as it prepares to face an anticipated loss of 40 per cent of its income. According to reports by Third Sector, the charity is facing a £6m drop in incoming funds because of the pandemic, and there are concerns it could take another three years for income to return to previous levels. 

Blood Cancer UK furloughed 40 per cent of its staff in response to the pandemic and cut operational costs by £2m. But chief executive Gemma Peters said "none of this was enough", and it became "inevitable" that Blood Cancer UK would "face a difficult decision about the size and shape of our charity". Peters added: "It’s only a proposal at the moment, and over the next month I want to hear the thoughts of the team about how we can improve it. But it’s clear that we’ll lose a significant number of brilliant, dedicated, people."

8.20am Cinemas, museums and beauty salons to reopen from Monday in Wales

Cinemas, museums and beauty salons in Wales can reopen from Monday (27 July), Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford has confirmed. Face coverings on public transport, including taxis will also be made compulsory for anyone over the age of 11 on the same day. Drakeford said people will need to get used to "some changes" to help protect themselves and workers in the reopening businesses. 

He said: "This may mean having to book ahead or giving our details to the places we are visiting, to help our test, trace, protect service, in the event there's an outbreak of coronavirus. It's the responsibility of all of us to follow these new rules so we can keep ourselves and our loved ones safe."

8am Dyson to cut 900 jobs

Dyson has announced it will make 900 roles redundant in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The company said about 600 jobs will be cut in the UK, with a further 300 expected worldwide. Dyson said the Covid-19 crisis had "accelerated changes in consumer behaviour" which resulted in the company wanting to become "faster, more agile and better able to grow sustainably". However, it said this change would come at the cost of almost 900 job cuts worldwide. 

7.40am Construction firm Bellway starts redundancy talks with 175 staff

House builder Bellway has started redundancy talks with staff over plans to cut around 175 roles across the business. The plan would see nearly 6 per cent of the firm's 3,000-strong workforce made redundant. A spokesperson for Bellway said the firm had to put a "small number of roles" at risk of redundancy due the impact of the pandemic and subsequent reduction in production it has caused.

They said: "The new safer way of working on site along with the introduction of social distancing measures has slowed the build process and subsequently had a negative impact on the amount of units we are able to complete. This, alongside the current economic uncertainty that Covid-19 has brought has meant we have reviewed our business model to ensure we remain fit for the future."

7.10am New face covering rules come into force in England

Face coverings are now compulsory for customers in enclosed public spaces such as supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, transport hubs, banks and takeaways. Venues such as restaurants, pubs, cinemas, hairdressers and gyms will be exempt from the legislation. Police can hand out fines of up to £100 to those who do not comply.

Some retailers said they will not expect staff to enforce the new rule. Sainsbury's and Costa said staff will not be expected to challenge customers who enter their stores without masks, while Asda said enforcement was the "responsibility of the relevant authorities". Waitrose said it will have staff stationed at shop entrances to remind customers of the rule, and Tesco will be selling face coverings at shop entrances. Greggs and McDonalds said takeaway customers need to wear masks.

Thursday 23 July

4.20pm Guidance on face coverings in England’s shops released before new rules 

As of tomorrow face coverings will be mandatory in enclosed public spaces in England, including supermarkets, indoor shopping centres, transport hubs, banks and post offices. Rule-breakers will face a fine of up to £100, according to a BBC report, but there are exemptions for children under 11 and those with disabilities or health conditions that make it difficult to wear a face covering. 

Shop workers will not have to wear face coverings but the government has said it “strongly” recommends that employers consider their use where appropriate. Businesses are encouraged to promote the use of masks with signs, but ultimately the onus falls on individuals to follow the rules. While police have powers to enforce the rules, this will be done as a last resort and officers will not patrol premises. 

2.10pm Quarter of women asked to dress more provocatively for video meetings, survey finds

Employers are asking female employees to dress ‘sexier’ and wear make-up during video meetings, research has found. Contrary to expectations that remote working could reduce the number of reported incidents of sexist behaviour, research from law firm Slater and Gordon suggested sexism has found “new and insidious ways to thrive online” since the start of the outbreak.

In a poll of 2,000 office-based staff working from home during the pandemic, 35 per cent of women reported experiencing at least one sexist demand from their employer since lockdown started in March, with the most common offence being inappropriate comments about the way they dressed for video meetings.

2.05pm Why we need to build better workplaces for everyone after Covid-19

The government has pledged to create opportunities for good work as the economy recovers from coronavirus, but they must extend to all types of worker, says Sir Brendan Barber.

2pm Warship will not reopen until 2021 owing to funding shortfall, job cuts possible

World War I warship HMS Caroline will not reopen to the public until 2021 because of a funding shortfall, the operator has said, with further warnings that jobs could be cut if the situation worsens. The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), which operates the vessel, said the pandemic and ensuing lockdown measures left a shortfall of £6.35m and claimed a funding agreement could not be reached with the Northern Ireland Department for the Economy. The NMRN warned jobs could be lost if the situation was not resolved quickly. 

Dominic Tweddle, director general of NMRN, said staff salaries had been supported under the coronavirus job retention scheme. But he warned “those jobs will have to be made redundant” if HMS Caroline cannot open before next year. 

1.40pm Burrito chain Chilango prepares to enter administration

Burrito dining chain Chilango has said it is planning to call in administrators as its business had been hard hit by the lockdown. The collapse could lead to the closure of Chilango's 12 restaurants, with a potential loss of 152 jobs. Chilango said it was looking for a buyer, but the outlook for its future was still unknown as a result of the impact the coronavirus crisis had put on the food industry. 

It said: "During this period we have done our very best to mitigate the pandemic’s impact, operating as much as is safely possible while implementing the various government support measures available. Unfortunately, these efforts have not been sufficient to secure the future of our business."

1pm Majority of eligible restaurants yet to sign up for government's 'eat out to help out' scheme

Only a quarter of cafes, pubs and restaurants eligible to register for the government's ‘eat out to help out’ scheme have done so, according to official data. Figures from HMRC revealed only 32,362 of the 130,000 eligible restaurants, pubs and cafes have signed up since registration opened on 13 July. The scheme, which was unveiled by chancellor Rishi Sunak earlier this month, was designed to boost the struggling hospitality industry and support 1.8 million jobs in the sector. 

Cafe retailer Costa is the latest to announce it had registered with the scheme – which starts in August – joining other major chains including Burger King, McDonald's, Harvester, Nando's and Pizza Hut. A spokesperson for HMRC said: “Although restaurants and establishments can register now for the scheme, some may choose not to register until the scheme is launched to the public. Businesses are working hard to ensure their premises are Covid-safe and have plenty of time to sign up. HMRC anticipates a high level of take-up but respects that some restaurants may not choose to take part.”

12.40pm British Airways pilots vote on deal to cut jobs and pay

British Airways pilots are to vote on a deal struck between management and union Balpa that would involve at least 270 jobs being axed and the remainder taking pay cuts of up to 20 per cent. Balpa said it was "hugely disappointing" the airline had not taken up proposals that would have avoided compulsory redundancies. BA sought to lay off up to 12,000 employees – including 1,255 pilots – as a result of the pandemic's impact on the airline industry. 

Now, pilots must vote on a package that includes voluntary redundancy deals and part-time working options. Additionally, there are proposals for a ‘holding pool’ of pilots on reduced pay who will be re-employed by BA if and when demand picks up. Their wages will be funded by cuts to their colleagues' pay. Pilots would take an initial 20 per cent reduction, which would taper to 8 per cent below current levels in two years. 

8.50am Northern Ireland government to discuss face coverings in shops

Ministers for the Northern Ireland Executive will meet to discuss the wearing of face coverings in shops, according to reports by the BBC, but it may stop short of making them compulsory. Face coverings are already mandatory for anyone visiting shops in Scotland and will become compulsory for shops in England from Friday (24 July). Ministers will consider a paper from the Department of Health, which details advice from Dr Michael McBride, Northern Ireland's chief medical officer, who supports making face masks compulsory in shops. 

The BBC said ministers will also consider the view of the retail sector, which fears the move could damage trade and be difficult to enforce. Currently, guidelines in Northern Ireland state the wearing of face coverings is only compulsory on public transport, going to hospitals or visiting care homes. 

8am Majority of Caledonian Hotel jobs under review

The majority of jobs at the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh are under review as a result of the ongoing strain the pandemic has put on the hospitality sector. The Caledonian Waldorf Astoria Hotel said it needed to cut 65 full-time roles as well as amalgamate and change the working hours of a further 135 jobs. The Hilton, which operates the hotel, said it had tried everything to mitigate the impact of the lockdown, but it had started a consultation process with workers on Monday (21 July).

A spokeswoman for Hilton said the firm was having to make "some very difficult decisions about our future structure", adding: "Covid-19 has created unprecedented challenges for our industry and, with social distancing measures and travel restrictions remaining in place, it is unlikely we will get back to normal operations for some time." The Caledonian Hotel has 290 staff in total, including some casual workers. 

7.30am Government 'too slow to help at-risk arts', say MPs

The government has been too slow to respond to the "existential threat" facing the entertainment and live arts sector, a committee of MPs has said. The House of Commons culture select committee said the coronavirus pandemic poses the biggest threat to live theatre, music and other culture businesses in a generation. Julian Knight, MP and chair of the committee, said the government's £1.57bn support package for employers in the arts sector was "nothing more than an Elastoplast over a gaping wound". 

Knight said the sector needed "not just a bailout" but a “long-term plan" that would enable it to "come out on the other side" of the pandemic. The committee said the cultural industries were likely to face mass redundancies in the coming months. The pandemic would also have a lasting impact on opportunities for workers and diversity in these businesses. 

Wednesday 22 July

1.50pm Women providing two-thirds more childcare than men during lockdown, ONS finds

Women delivered 78 minutes more childcare a day than men during the first weeks of lockdown, the latest official figures have shown. During the first weeks of lockdown (26 March to 26 April) in households with children under 18, women were carrying out an average of two-thirds more childcare duties per day than men, the latest Office for National Statistics data suggested.

The data showed that women spent 77 per cent more time on childcare than men overall, as women were also undertaking non-developmental childcare such as feeding, washing, dressing and supervising children. Women provided an average of three hours and 18 minutes of childcare overall (including supervision) per day, while men provided two hours.

12.50pm Firms still operating at half pre-Covid capacity, survey finds

Companies are still operating at half their pre-coronavirus capacity despite the easing of lockdown measures, a survey of employers has found. The poll of 750 businesses, conducted by the British Chambers of Commerce and Indeed, found companies were operating at 53 per cent capacity, with the majority citing consumer demand and possible future local lockdowns as obstacles to fully restarting operations (54 and 52 per cent respectively). Almost a third (30 per cent) said other business costs, such as rent or salaries, were a major hurdle.

Following the introduction of the flexible furlough scheme at the start of this month, the survey also found just under a third (31 per cent) of firms had furloughed staff on a part-time basis, although the majority (56 per cent) still have employees furloughed full time. Additionally, one in 10 (13 per cent) had made staff redundant since the beginning of the crisis, and a third (33 per cent) planned to start making redundancies over the next three months.

12pm Keeping up with legislation amid Covid-19

Katherine Maxwell outlines why it’s essential for employers to stay on top of government guidance during the coronavirus crisis.

7.20am Beauticians, nail salons, colleges and tattoo parlours reopen in Scotland

Scotland continues with its phased map out of lockdown as beauty salons, tattoo parlours and a variety of businesses are able to reopen today (22 July). Salons, tattoo parlours and tailors can reopen to the public as long as enhanced hygiene measures are in place. Additionally, universities and colleges will be able to introduce a phased return to on-campus learning.   

These latest measures follow first minister Nicola Sturgeon's Phase 3 of easing the lockdown restrictions in Scotland. Indoor pubs, cafes and restaurants reopened for the first time in almost four months on 15 July, as did hairdressers, barber shops, holiday accommodation and places of worship for communal prayer. However, many businesses have yet to be given the go-ahead for reopening, including theatres, indoor gyms, non-essential offices and call centres. 

Tuesday 21 July

5.20pm Southbank Centre and Royal Opera House announce redundancies 

Some of the UK’s most iconic arts venues have announced redundancies as the virus continues to negatively impact financial stability of the industry. IQ Magazine reported that London’s Southbank Centre is set to make two-thirds of its staff redundant despite furloughing the majority of its 600 employees. 

The Royal Opera House (ROH) has also announced it will lay off its entire casual workforce.The exact figure is yet to be confirmed, but ROH said in a statement that all casual contracts have been terminated and a process of voluntary redundancy among other staff members is already underway. 

Additionally the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG) has announced that it will make 5 per cent of its workforce redundant, the bulk of which will be those based in its head offices in London and Woking. However, its zero-hours contract workers will continue to be supported by the furlough scheme for the foreseeable future. 

3.50pm Beefeaters at the Tower of London face redundancy for the first time in 500 years

Beefeaters are at risk of redundancy as a result of the impact of coronavirus on the UK’s tourism industry. John Barnes, head of the Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) charity that runs the Tower, told the Metro it had “no choice” but to reduce payroll costs of the 37 Yeoman Warders. 

The Tower of London reopened this month after closing amid the pandemic, and at least two Beefeaters who guard the crown jewels are said to have taken voluntary redundancies. However, HRP has warned that compulsory redundancies will be enforced as its visitor numbers dropped from three million last year to fewer than 1,000 because of social distancing rules.

2.50pm LinkedIn cuts 960 jobs globally as pandemic hits corporate hiring

LinkedIn has announced it will cut about 960 jobs worldwide as fewer firms recruit staff amid the Covid-19 crisis. The cuts will affect about 6 per cent of the company's global workforce and could include its UK office. LinkedIn employs more than 16,000 people across 30 sites around the world. 

In a message posted online, chief executive Ryan Roslansky said these were the only job cuts the firm was planning. He said LinkedIn was "not immune to the effects of the global pandemic", and the business had been negatively impacted as "fewer companies, including ours, need to hire at the same volume they did previously". He added employees in Ireland, the UK and Australia had already begun consultation about the potential impact on their jobs. 

2.20pm Almost a third of jobs at Edinburgh Airport at risk

Almost a third of jobs at Edinburgh Airport are at risk of being cut because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, trade unions have warned. In a joint letter to the first minister, Edinburgh Airport and Unite said 2,000 of the airport's 7,000 jobs could go as a result of the pandemic. During the first minister's questions this morning (21 July), Nicola Sturgeon was asked if she had spoken with the union and airport since the letter was sent last week. 

Sturgeon said the letter "will be responded to fully" and that aviation was "one sector of many that is under severe pressure because of the pandemic". She added: "I am very mindful of that in the decisions we take, and you can see that in the care we have taken over decisions, such as over air bridges, but my primary focus right now is keeping this virus under control." 

1.50pm High-paid employees most likely to be able to work from home, official data shows

Employees in higher-paying jobs are more likely to be able to work from home, according to official data. Analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found people who earn higher hourly wages were more likely to be able to work remotely during the pandemic. This included chief executives and senior officials, whose median earnings were £44.08 an hour, and legal professionals at £39.48 per hour.

According to its analysis, the ONS said professional occupations such as economists and actuaries alongside management, technical and administrative jobs were most likely to be done from home. This was primarily because the roles involved relatively little face-to-face contact, physical activity or the use of tools or equipment. However, low-paid occupations including cleaners, waiting staff and security guards alongside frontline workers were least likely to be able to work from home because of the physical nature of their work. 

12.50pm Leeds Castle to start redundancy process

Historic attraction Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, Kent, has confirmed it has begun a redundancy consultation as it faces a "financial black hole" as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Leeds Castle said it is looking to cut 62 roles across 15 areas of the charity that runs the historic venue. Despite lockdown restrictions being eased in recent weeks, bosses said the limits on visitor numbers and the reduced length of the summer tourist season meant costs had to be reduced ahead of winter. 

Robin Richman, chief executive of Leeds Castle, said the organisation is "very close" so starting a redundancy consultation "has been a difficult decision". He added: "But we have to be realistic about the impact on our finances and do everything we can to safeguard the charity and the historic assets it is there to protect and preserve." 

11.55am After lockdown, businesses will need to be more human than ever

Working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the need for organisations to demonstrate their emotional qualities, says Arran Heal.

11.15am Bowel Cancer UK announces redundancy consultation

Charity Bowel Cancer UK has announced it will begin consulting with its staff on potential redundancies after a “huge loss of income” caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with up to 40 per cent of its 62 staff potentially at risk.

Chief executive Genevieve Edwards said: “We’re a small yet vital charity supporting thousands of people affected by bowel cancer, and we have lost around 40 per cent of our income practically overnight.     

“We moved swiftly at the start of the pandemic to safeguard our charity and, despite the challenges, have remained focused on meeting the needs of people with bowel cancer throughout. I'm so proud of how we’ve been able to pivot our services quickly and innovate in difficult circumstances to make a real difference to people when they need us most. But with a huge drop in income, and no other government assistance, we’re now sadly in a position where we have no choice but to make permanent cuts to our staff base, which is devastating for everyone at the charity and the bowel cancer community. ”

9.10am RBS staff to work from home until next year

Nearly 50,000 UK-based staff for Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) Group have been told they will not return to the office until 2021, despite the prime minister saying employers should encourage people back into the workplace from August. RBS said the "vast majority" of employees who are working from home will continue to do so until next year. It had previously said staff would work remotely until at least the end of September.

RBS told its employees that its priority was to look after the safety and wellbeing of employees and customers. It said: "Like we've done throughout the pandemic, the decision has been made carefully, including considering the latest guidance from the UK government on Friday and our own health and safety standards and procedures." 

8.30am 'Few, if any' cinemas in Wales will reopen next week, trade body warns

Cinemas in Wales are unlikely to reopen on time next week because of the restrictions on how they operate, according to trade body the UK Cinema Association (UKCA). Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UKCA, said "few, if any" will reopen as planned on 27 July because current government guidance says cinemas will not be able to sell any food if they open on that date. Additionally, the Welsh government has not eased any social distancing rules, which Clapp argued will make it hard for cinemas to operate. 

The UKCA estimates 95 per cent of cinema staff across the UK were put on the furlough scheme. Currently, Wales is the only part of the UK where cinemas have been given a date to reopen. Clapp said: "Clearly, we've not spoken to all cinemas in Wales, but we suspect that few, if any, will feel able to open at that time. It's a conversation that is ongoing."

8.10am Make face masks compulsory in GP surgeries, BMA urges

Face masks should be compulsory in GP surgeries to minimise the spread of Covid-19, the British Medical Association (BMA) has urged. The BMA said requiring people to cover their face while in shops or on public transport – but not in a GP’s office – "makes no sense" and is "illogical". Last month, the government said all hospital staff, as well as anyone visiting a hospital, should cover their face, but this has not been extended to GP practices. 

The BMA has called on the government to change the law to make wearing a face covering mandatory "in all situations where physical distancing of more than two metres is not possible", including GP surgeries. Dr Richard Vautrey, chair of the BMA's GP committee said: "It makes no sense that the government has introduced one measure for shops and public transport, while other indoor spaces, including GP practices, are exempt. This virus is just as infectious in a practice as it is in a shop or on a bus."

7.20am Pay rise for almost 900,000 public sector workers

Almost 900,000 public sector workers will be given an above-inflation pay rise, chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced, for their work on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic. The Treasury said teachers in England will see the largest pay increase in 2020/21 at 3.1 per cent, and dentists and doctors across the UK will receive a 2.8 per cent pay increase. Police, prison officers and National Crime Agency staff in England and Wales will be given a 2.5 per cent rise in pay, while members of the armed forces across the UK will get 2 per cent. 

Sunak said the pay rises follow the recommendations of the independent pay bodies, adding: “These past months have underlined what we always knew – that our public sector workers make a vital contribution to our country and that we can rely on them when we need them." The pay awards for the armed forces, prison officers, senior civil servants and NHS staff will be backdated to April, whereas the pay rise for police and teachers starts in September owing to those professions operating on a different pay schedule.

Monday 20 July

5.40pm Large employers turn down job retention bonus

John Lewis, Primark and Rightmove are among a number of employers who have said they will not accept the job retention bonus offered by the chancellor in his summer statement earlier this month. Rishi Sunak had offered employers £1,000 for every employee on furlough who is returned to work and remains employed until January in a bid to prevent a spike in joblessness as the job retention scheme comes to an end.

However, some firms have said they do not need the money. In a statement, Rightmove said that now the housing market has reopened across parts of the UK, the firm would be able to return all furloughed workers and would not be needing to make use of the bonus scheme. Similarly, Primark said it would not be necessary for them to make use of the scheme.

5.30pm Delivery firm Hermes to create more than 10,000 jobs

The delivery company Hermes has said it will create 10,500 UK jobs, including 1,500 full time roles and 9,000 freelance courier roles, to meet an increase in demand caused by the growth in online shopping, the BBC has reported.

Martijn de Lange, CEO of Hermes, said the pandemic had “expedited the already phenomenal growth” in online shopping, and that the firm had already received thousands of applications from staff in industries including hospitality and aviation who had lost their jobs at the start of lockdown.

1.40pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Acorn Early Years Foundation

Kieran Glackin, HR manager for Acorn Early Years Foundation, shares how preparation and communication were key in helping the childcare provider manage a Covid-19 outbreak within its workforce.

1.20pm Retailers call for licensing scheme to protect garment factory workers

Retailers and MPs have written to the government calling for the introduction of a licensing scheme for garment factories in the wake of mounting evidence of unethical employment practices in Leicester. The letter, signed by Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, outlined a plan for statutory licensing of garment factories and owners that would, at a minimum, protect workers from forced labour and debt bondage and unsafe working conditions, and ensure the payment of the national minimum wage, national insurance contributions and holiday pay.

It comes in response to reports that garment factories in Leicester, allegedly supplying online fashion retailer boohoo and others, were paying workers as little as £3.50 and hour – far below the minimum wage – and forcing employees to work in unsafe conditions and without PPE despite the risk of coronavirus. Leicester was one of the coronavirus hotspots earlier this month, and was the first area to be subjected to a ‘local lockdown’, which is only due to start easing from 24 July.

12.15pm How has coronavirus affected tribunals?

Covid-19 has caused a huge backlog of employment cases. Melissa Chuttur considers whether this has brought any benefits for businesses. 

9.20am Marks and Spencer ‘to cut hundreds of jobs’

Marks and Spencer (M&S) is reportedly planning to cut hundreds of jobs this week in response to the Covid-19 crisis’s impact on the UK high street. An announcement about job losses could come within days, Sky News reported, with total redundancies potentially reaching several thousand when existing restructuring plans are taken into account. M&S’s food shops remained open throughout lockdown but trading in other parts of the business was severely reduced, with clothing sales down by 84 per cent year on year at the lowest point, the company said in May. The retailer furloughed approximately 27,000 of its 78,000 employees during lockdown. Many have returned to work, but chief executive Steve Rowe warned of permanent changes to shopping habits.

9.15am Ted Baker to axe 500 jobs

Fashion retailer Ted Baker is to cut at least 500 jobs – a quarter of its UK workforce – as the pandemic continues to severely impact the high street. It is understood that about 200 of the roles will go at the retailer’s London headquarters, with the remainder from its shops and store concessions. A spokesperson for the company said “as part of [the brand’s] continuing transformation plan, we have been assessing the appropriate level of staffing across our business and are in consultation with affected colleagues”. Both part-time and full-time roles will be affected.

These latest losses come on top of 160 already announced in February. Those reductions, predominantly affecting office workers, were described as the first stage of a restructuring designed to put the business back on track. In January this year, the company had a UK workforce of 2,025.

9am Avon reports surge in new reps

Cosmetics company Avon has reported a 114 per cent “surge” in the number of new representatives joining its UK business since lockdown began. The firm said the pandemic had prompted many people to look for new ways of earning cash, and that, amid a looming jobs crisis, growing numbers were on the hunt for opportunities to supplement their income. Angela Cretu, Avon’s chief executive, said: “As the recession tightens its grasp on communities in the wake of Covid-19, people are looking for new ways to earn.” She added that the company was preparing for “a tidal wave” of new sign-ups.

8.30am Staff in no rush to return to the office, research shows

Fewer than one in six workers has returned to the office, according to Centre for Cities analysis of mobile phone data on behalf of The Times. In London, only one worker in eight has gone back; in the City, only 800 of Goldman Sachs’ 6,000 London staff have returned, while fewer than 2,000 of the 12,000 at JPMorgan are back. The data suggested Basildon in Essex has seen the highest proportion of staff go back at 49 per cent, and Edinburgh the least at 12 per cent. It showed workers in the biggest cities were least likely to have returned amid fears over the risk of long commutes on public transport. The 10 biggest cities have seen only 14 per cent of staff go back, compared with 30 per cent in cities such as Gloucester, where workers are much more likely to drive to the office. 

EY, which employs 17,000 people in the UK, has said it will reopen its offices from 7 September but capacity will be “significantly reduced” and employees will return on a voluntary basis with a desk booking system. PwC, however, is set to increase its office presence from 15 per cent to more than 50 per cent by September. 

Friday 17 July

5.10pm Return to work rings alarm bells for disabled workers, says charity 

A disability charity has raised concerns about the government’s call for employees in England to return to the workplace from 1 August. James Taylor, from Scope told the BBC that Boris Johnson's comments will “ring alarm bells for many disabled people" as two-thirds of Covid-19 fatalities were disabled people. 

He said: “Disabled people must be able to have flexibility about returning to their workplace. Leaving this to the discretion of employers will create inconsistency, and does little to reassure those disabled people who fear being forced to choose between protecting their health and paying the bills.” 

4.45pm Mass return to work unlikely, says Institute of Directors 

Following the government’s announcement that advice for employers on the return to work will change from 1 August, the Institute of Directors has said it doubts a significant return to offices any time soon. 

Edwin Morgan told the BBC that businesses will be reluctant to “increase the possibility of closures down the line by rushing back.” 

He added: "On top of this, not everything is in a company's control. Childcare is an issue for many employees, and even if the guidance is changed, some staff who use public transport will still be concerned."

While Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said that smaller firms tasked with “consulting employees and putting the right measures in place to ensure a safe return” would need funding and advice to make that happen. 

1.40pm The benefits of family-friendly working conditions

Rob Tubman explains why employers should embrace a flexible working culture in the age of coronavirus

1.30pm How will coronavirus change the way workplaces operate?

From permanent home working to a reduction in business travel, Alex Denny, Emma Vennesson and Charlotte Marshall explore how the Covid-19 pandemic is forcing businesses to adapt.

1.20 pm Employers must decide if bringing staff back is safe, says PM

From 1 August, the government will no longer tell employees to work from home where they can, but ask employers to decide if it’s safe for staff to come back, prime minister Boris Johnson has announced. Speaking during a Downing Street press conference this morning, Johnson said that from the end of this month, “instead of [the] government telling people to work from home, we will give employers more discretion and ask them how their staff could work more safely. This could be continuing working from home, or it could mean making workplaces safer by following Covid-secure guidelines”.

But experts warned leaving this to firms’ discretion could undermine worker confidence, as CIPD research revealed nervousness among staff about returning to the office. “The government has left a lot of the ‘risk’ decisions about timing of return, practicalities about whether to wear masks, to employers and individual employees,” said Kathleen Heycock, partner at Farrer & Co. “This means different places are doing different things at different times.”

10.30am City Hall to reopen to staff

City Hall will reopen to staff from the end of July, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced. About 200 workers – around a sixth of the Greater London Authority’s workforce of 1,190 – will return from 30 July, with those who have found it hardest working from home to be allowed back first. The building, on the south bank of the Thames near Tower Bridge, closed shortly before lockdown was imposed. Staff have been working remotely for the last 18 weeks, though Khan has been seen in his eighth-floor office in recent weeks.

Priority will be given to staff working in “cramped, busy homes, who are feeling lonely or isolated or those who – because of the nature of their work – need to be around others for support,” said Khan. “We are nowhere near able to allow everyone back into City Hall and home working is going to continue for the majority of staff, but a number of GLA staff and officials, particularly those struggling with home arrangements, will now be able to return to City Hall in a safe and Covid-secure manner,” he said.

9.20am Centrica using Covid-19 as ‘smokescreen’ to alter staff contracts, say unions

Trade unions have accused the owner of British Gas of using the Covid-19 pandemic as a “smokescreen” to force its 20,000 employees to accept worse employment contracts or lose their jobs. Centrica is in talks to “simplify” the wide range of employment contracts used across its 20,000-strong workforce, having announced plans last month to cut 5,000 jobs. The firm was forced to assure employees this week that the company would only seek to terminate existing contracts and offer fresh terms, known as a section 188 notice, as a “last resort” if the “challenging” talks with unions fell apart. Unions have accused the company of raising the possibility of a section 188 notice in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak to “blackmail” staff into agreeing to lower pay and tougher contract terms.

Referring to proposals by British Airways to change terms and conditions for thousands of staff under a section 188 notice, Mark Pettifer, regional officer for Unite, said: “Centrica is adopting the same tactics as British Airways and is using Covid-19 as a smokescreen to cut jobs of loyal and dedicated staff who have worked through the lockdown providing energy to the nation.”

9.15am More than 1,600 jobs at risk at casino firm Genting

Casino company Genting is to cut up to 1,642 jobs at clubs and hotels across the UK owing to Covid-19. While pubs, restaurants, shops and even bookmakers in England have been allowed to open as coronavirus lockdown restrictions eased, casinos remain among the businesses not permitted to do so. Genting, one of the largest casino operators in the UK, will permanently close casinos in Margate, Torquay and Bristol, while other sites face severe job reductions, with some venues proposing to shed more than half of their employees.

“This announcement by the company is nothing short of outrageous,” said Mick Rix, a GMB national officer. “It’s a serious slap in the face to loyal and long serving staff – as well as the UK public. Taxpayers’ cash has funded Genting to the tune of millions of pounds during lockdown: now they are making people redundant rather than contribute towards the government furlough scheme from the end of August.”

8.45am PM to set out plans to encourage people back to work this morning 

A press conference scheduled for 11am this morning will see prime minister Boris Johnson set out proposals for an extra £3bn for the NHS to get it ‘battle-ready for winter.’ The plans will fund a major boost to flu vaccinations and an increase in coronavirus testing capacity, reported to be targeted at half a million tests a day by the end of October. Johnson will also set out plans to encourage more people to go back to their workplaces. He is expected to unveil a new ‘Contain Framework’ designed to prove to anxious workers that the virus is "under control" in their local areas. He will also relax guidance on the use of public transport, allowing people to start commuting again in August. 

This comes despite chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance saying yesterday (16 July) that he saw “absolutely no reason” for people to stop working from home. “Of the various distancing measures, working from home for many companies remains a perfectly good option because it’s easy to do,” he told the Commons science committee. “I think a number of companies think it’s actually not detrimental to productivity.”

Thursday 16 July

4.45pm Chancellor’s job-saving package recycles up to £10bn of spending, says IFS

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been accused of repackaging up to £10bn of previously announced government spending to form the backbone of his plan, announced last week (8 July), to save jobs during Covid-19. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said at least £8bn and up to a third of the £30bn coronavirus response package announced by Sunak in his summer statement would be funded from underspending on previously planned projects. The body said the package included £5.5bn in transport and infrastructure projects that was in fact money reallocated from other schemes.

It said the £2bn ‘green homes grant’ announced by Sunak to help insulate Britain’s energy-inefficient homes had been allocated from previously announced spending, and that the £400m for traineeships, apprenticeships, school leavers and careers advice in England was from an existing funding pot.

4.30pm Pizza Express to potentially cut 1,000 jobs

Pizza Express is to close up to 75 of its restaurants as part of a rescue plan that could put more than 1,000 jobs at risk. The restaurant chain is lining up a company voluntary arrangement – an insolvency process that allows it to exit stores and cut rents – linked to talks with bondholders over its heavy debt burden. Meanwhile, in June The Restaurant Group, which owns Frankie & Benny’s and Garfunkel’s, said it would close up to 120 restaurants, with almost 3,000 jobs losses, while more than 1,000 Carluccio’s staff lost their jobs as part of a rescue deal in May.

1.50pm Latest figures masking true extent of UK’s employment crisis, say experts

Official figures showing the number of UK workers on payroll dropped by 649,000 between March and June fail to show the true extent of the crisis, experts have warned. Office for National Statistics data showed the number of paid employees in Britain had fallen by 2.2 per cent (649,000) compared to March 2020, while the number of hours worked in Britain between March and May 2019 and March to May 2020 fell to a record low. Hours worked each week dropped by 16.7 per cent (175.3 million) to 877.1 million hours in total, marking the most drastic annual decrease since records began in 1971. 

Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser at the CIPD, said the “sting in the tail is the record fall in demand for workers” and a sharp drop in the number of hours worked. “The situation can only deteriorate rapidly over the rest of the summer and into the autumn as young people enter the labour market,” he said, urging employers to only make redundancies as a last resort and to explore other options first. 

1.30pm More than 740,000 coronavirus tests carried out on social care workers

An estimated 741,021 coronavirus tests have been carried out on social care workers as of 8 July, according to figures released by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). This number includes symptomatic household members of workers in the social care sector. Approximately 352,946 tests have been carried out on care home residents. However, the DHSC said the estimates were not an indication of the number of people tested, as some people had been tested multiple times. 

12.30pm Home working set to double post coronavirus crisis, survey finds

Employers expect the number of staff working from home in the future to double in comparison to pre-pandemic levels, research has found, despite government plans to start getting office staff back into workplaces from August. Almost two in five (37 per cent) employees will be working from home on a regular basis once the crisis is over, according to employer predictions made as part of CIPD research, compared to just a fifth (18 per cent) who did so before lockdown. 

Additionally, businesses expected the proportion of staff working from home all the time to increase from 9 per cent before the pandemic to 22 per cent. In the CIPD research, which surveyed 1,046 UK employers, organisations reported the average proportion of the workforce conducting their roles from home continuously was more than half (54 per cent). In response to this expected increase in home working, the CIPD has called on the government to make the right to request flexible working a day-one right for all employees.

12pm What does the jobs plan for young people mean for businesses?

Tim Stovold explains the government’s new measures aimed at boosting employment among the under-25s.

11.50am Five ways HR can help firms survive the economic turmoil ahead

To maintain a sense of togetherness, people teams must pay attention to psychological safety, values and managing conflict, says David Liddle.

11.20am Unemployment in Scotland rose during lockdown, official data shows

Unemployment in Scotland rose by 4.3 per cent during the height of the coronavirus pandemic (between March and May), official figures show. This was a .6 per cent increase on the previous quarter and is higher than the UK average employment rate of 3.9 per cent. The figures, published by the Scottish government, also indicated 15,000 more people were seeking jobs during lockdown, bringing the total of those looking for new work in the country to 120,000. 

10.20am Almost 2,500 redundancies proposed in Northern Ireland in June

Employers in Northern Ireland proposed 2,473 redundancies in June, the highest monthly figure on record, according to an analysis of labour market figures. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) said the redundancies had mostly been contracted in retail, hospitality, manufacturing and transportation. The four sectors accounted for almost 90 per cent of proposed redundancies between March and the end of June. 

Companies in Northern Ireland are required to notify the government when they plan to make more than 20 people redundant. The NISRA analysis also found a further 745 redundancies in Northern Ireland were proposed in the first two weeks of July, taking the total number of proposed redundancies since the start of March to 4,900. 

10.10am Southbank Centre confirms 400 jobs at risk

The Southbank Centre has announced that 400 jobs, which represents about two-thirds of the arts complex’s total workforce, are at risk of redundancy because of the impact of the pandemic on the arts industry. A spokesperson for the Southbank Centre confirmed the news after workers were told about the cuts on Wednesday (15 July). The spokesperson said: “It is with great sadness that the Southbank Centre announced that up to 400 roles have been put at risk of redundancy as part of a comprehensive management action plan designed to stem the financial losses being incurred as a result of Covid-19, and to help safeguard the future of the UK’s largest arts centre.”

The job losses are expected to affect all areas of the organisation including the Hayward Gallery, Royal Festival Hall, the National Poetry Library and the Arts Council Collection. Earlier in the year, the Southbank Centre furloughed the majority of its 600 employees. In May, the organisation predicted it could face a £5.1m deficit for the 2020-21 financial year as a direct result of the Covid-19 crisis. 

Wednesday 15 July

5.30pm Sunak defends bonus scheme

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has defended his job retention bonus scheme after MPs on the Treasury committee described the scheme as "badly timed and poorly targeted". The policy – announced last week – will see the government pay employers £1,000 for every furloughed worker they retain past January. Labour MP Angela Eagle told the chancellor the scheme risked spending taxpayers' money for no benefit. "Surely you could have had less deadweight if you'd have focused support on different sectors. Why didn't you do that?" she asked. 

Labour MP Rushanara Ali meanwhile suggested the bonus would not stop a surge in unemployment and could end up funnelling money to already-rich companies. She also questioned whether it would benefit smaller businesses. Sunak said he firmly believed the scheme "will and can make a difference", and rejected suggestions it should have been more targeted as impractical.

4.50pm Plans to make face coverings mandatory in offices ‘rejected’ 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed that people working in offices would not need to wear face coverings, despite a news report suggesting they would. 

Hancock told BBC Breakfast that the concept of face coverings in offices had been “rejected”, adding that there was a difference between a short visit to a shop and working alongside colleagues for hours, and masks would not offer protection. "When you're in close proximity with somebody that you have to work closely to, if you're there for a long time with them, then a mask doesn't offer that protection,” said Hancock. 

2.45pm Teenagers most likely to have been furloughed

Seventeen-year-old women are most likely to have been put on furlough during the coronavirus crisis, according to data from HM Revenue and Customs, with some 61 per cent of jobs done by this group being put on the job retention scheme. Young men of the same age were also more likely than not to have been furloughed, hitting 58 per cent of their jobs. Men in their 40s and women aged 41 to 58 were least likely to have been put on the scheme. People working for smaller companies were more likely to have been furloughed than those employed by bigger businesses. Some 57 per cent of jobs at businesses with between five and nine employees had been furloughed, compared to 19 per cent at companies with 250 or more employees.

1pm Will office staff be required to wear face coverings – and would this work?

In something of a surprise U-turn, the government announced yesterday (14 July) that it will be mandatory to wear a face mask in shops after 24 July, prompting much furore over whether shop workers could reasonably be expected to help the police enforce this. At the same time, Downing Street said it would keep the guidance on face coverings in other settings, such as offices, under review, with conflicting messages from different ministers on this then ensuing.

So just how likely is it that the government will mandate mask wearing in the office? And what would be the effect on the timescale in which desk-based workers are likely to return to their workplaces? People Management finds out...

12.50pm How to tackle interpersonal challenges remotely

Face-to-face meetings may not be possible at the moment, but managers can still ensure staff feel heard, understood and supported during difficult conversations, says Philippa Lucarz.

12.40pm Can employers base redundancy payments on furlough wages?

With many employees on the job retention scheme being made redundant amid the coronavirus downturn, Stephen Moore explains how businesses should manage remuneration. 

11.40am Guardian announces plans to cut 180 jobs

The Guardian has announced plans to cut up to 180 editorial and commercial roles, as the economic impact of the pandemic continues to hit the UK media industry. The proposals could affect up to 110 roles in the newspaper's advertising, marketing, live events and Guardian Jobs departments, with an additional 70 editorial positions at risk. 

In a joint statement to staff, editor-in-chief Katharine Viner and Annette Thomas, chief executive of the Guardian Media Group, said the pandemic had created an "unsustainable financial outlook for the Guardian" with revenues expected to be down by more than £25m on the year's budget. A spokesperson for Guardian Media Group said: “We will discuss all our proposals, including redundancy terms, during collective consultation with our employee and trade union representatives.”

10.50am Asos to repay furlough cash as lockdown sales rise

Online retailer Asos will repay cash to the government it claimed for furloughing workers after its sales grew during lockdown. Asos said that group sales increased by 10 per cent in the four months leading up to 30 June. In its latest trading update, Asos said it would be returning cash it received under the furlough scheme after a "better than initially expected full-year performance". 

Asos chief executive Nick Beighton said: "This has been a tough time for all businesses, but we have remained focused on doing the right thing for our people... While we remain cautious about the consumer impact of Covid-19 looking forward, we are on track to deliver strong year-on-year profit growth." The retailer did not confirm how many workers it had furloughed under the government scheme. 

9.35am Burberry to cut 150 jobs in the UK

Luxury brand Burberry is to cut 150 jobs in the UK as part of a wider cost saving measure after a slump in sales during the coronavirus pandemic. The brand said it was looking to cut £55m in costs and would be making 500 roles redundant worldwide, including 150 in its UK head office. Burberry said it would keep its headquarters in the UK but would "further streamline" head office roles, reduce office space and "improve retail efficiency" outside the UK. The 500 jobs being cut represent about 5 per cent of Burberry's global workforce. Marco Gobbetti, chief executive of Burberry, said: “We are sharpening our focus on product and making other organisational changes to increase our agility and generate structural savings that we will be able to reinvest into consumer-facing activities to further strengthen our luxury positioning.”

9.30am UK jobless could hit four million by end of year, says OBR

Unemployment in the UK could reach more than four million by the end of the year, according to a fiscal sustainability report by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). The report warned that 1.3 million people will go directly from furlough to joblessness when the scheme ends in October. Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, noted that the new prognosis for jobs in the report was gloomier than the OBR’s analysis early in the pandemic, which painted a scenario of the economy bouncing back to almost full strength. 

“The OBR is now of the view that the most likely outcome of this crisis is a big long run reduction in our national income relative to where it should be,” he said. Separately, a British Chambers of Commerce poll of more than 7,000 businesses showed that 29 per cent planned to cut jobs before the job retention scheme expires. Meanwhile, 28 per cent had already reduced their headcount but 12 per cent hoped to expand their workforce over the coming quarter.

9.15am Civil servants to return to offices over the coming weeks

UK ministers are preparing to send thousands of civil servants back to their offices in the coming weeks as part of a broader attempt to protect England’s city centres from economic collapse. At the end of last week prime minister Boris Johnson urged people to “go back to work” so long as it was safe even though the official advice is still for people to work from home if possible, causing confusion among employers and employer groups. Most Whitehall departments have, after conducting Covid risk assessments, apparently concluded that they could return to 25-30 per cent occupancy, with some considering if this could be higher now social distancing can be ‘one metre plus’.

Dave Penman, general secretary of the FDA civil service union, expressed concerns over the plans, particularly given how well the civil service has managed working from home during the crisis. “It is disappointing therefore to hear suggestions that ministers may want civil servants to return to work as part of the government’s increasingly confused public health messages,” he said.

8.30am Nurses not wearing masks led to A&E closure, inquiry finds

Nurses not wearing face masks or staying two metres apart led to an outbreak of Covid-19 that shut an A&E unit after 70 staff at a hospital had to go into quarantine, an inquiry has found. An investigation by Hillingdon hospital in London found that a nurse who had coronavirus unknowingly infected more than a dozen others during a training session they all attended on 30 June. 

Last week, the hospital announced it had stopped accepting emergency admissions because the outbreak had led to 70 employees having to go into isolation. The training session was identified as the source of the outbreak as hospital sources told the Guardian that not everyone who attended the session wore a mask or stayed two metres apart. 

8am Pubs, restaurants and hairdressers reopen in Scotland

Hairdressers and barbers, bars and restaurants, cinemas, tourist attractions, places of worship and childcare settings can all reopen from today (15 July) in Scotland. First minister Nicola Sturgeon said it was "the biggest step so far" in the relaxation of coronavirus measures since Scotland went into lockdown in March. But Sturgeon warned it could also bring the greatest risk of a potential resurgence of coronavirus infections. All customers to newly reopened indoor spaces in Scotland will be asked to provide their name and a phone number, as part of the NHS Test and Protect Scheme. 

7.30am Virgin Atlantic rescue deal could save thousands of jobs

Virgin Atlantic has finalised a rescue deal worth £1.2bn that could protect thousands of jobs, the airline has said. Virgin Group will inject £200m, with additional funds provided by investors and creditors to save the struggling airline. Owner Sir Richard Branson had requested aid from the UK government, but this was rejected. 

Virgin Atlantic is still going through with 3,500 job cuts, but the airline said the remaining 6,500 jobs should be secure because of the rescue deal. The firm said the refinancing covered the next five years and paved the way for it to rebuild its balance sheet and return to profitability in 2022. Chief executive Shai Weiss said: "We have taken painful measures, but we have accomplished what many thought impossible. The last six months have been the toughest we have faced in our 36-year history."

Tuesday 14 July

5.25pm Blackburn employers could face tighter lockdown restrictions as cases spike 

People in Blackburn may be asked to limit visitors from another household to two following 61 new coronavirus cases emerging within a week. The director of public health for Blackburn with Darwen, Professor Dominic Harrison, told the BBC that stricter measures could be imposed in two weeks if the number of cases did not fall. "One of the things we don't want to do is to get in a situation like Leicester where everything is open to where everything is shut," Harrison said. If Blackburn were to face a local lockdown, employers in hospitality and retail would have to once again close their doors and potentially re-engage with the coronavirus job retention scheme. Additionally, employees living in Blackburn would not be able to commute to workplaces outside of the affected area, resulting in prolonged home working arrangements potentially. 

5pm Workers should not be expected to police face mask wearing, which will be unpopular with young shoppers, says JD Sports chairman

The government’s rule that face coverings should be worn in shops from 24 July in England could deter shoppers, according to Peter Cowgill, executive chair of JD Sports, who said the rule would probably prove a “turn off” for its teenagers and twentysomething buyers, and that the “inconsistencies and indecisiveness” of the government’s stance had hit consumer confidence. The company also said it did not expect colleagues to get involved with policing the situation.

His comments followed concerns it would fall to store staff to police the public’s use of masks at a time when there was more abuse than normal because of social distancing frustrations, according to Usdaw. James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, said he was pleased the legal responsibility for enforcing the face mask policy rested with the police rather than with shop workers, but added: “In reality it will be retailers and their colleagues trying to communicate and explain this to people.”

2.50pm Skyscanner to cut jobs at Edinburgh office

Travel firm Skyscanner has announced plans to cut one fifth of its global workforce, including up to 84 jobs at its base in Edinburgh. Around 300 of its 1,500 workers around the world are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the travel industry. The company said it was confident in its recovery from the crisis in the long term, but the impact of Covid-19 on the business meant there remained "uncertainty on how much time it will take for travel to recover and what this might look like". 

Commenting on the announcement of job cuts, a spokesman for Skyscanner said: "This is a hard time for our people and teams, so throughout this process our priority – as it always is – will be to treat everyone with empathy, care and respect. We’ll be working to make sure we support them as much as we can."

2.20pm Majority of UK tourism firms expect redundancies

Almost nine in 10 companies in the UK's tourism industry expect to make job cuts as a result of the coronavirus crisis, according to a survey. The research, conducted by trade association UKinbound, found 88 per cent of companies in this sector anticipated making between 25 per cent and 100 per cent of their staff redundant because of the pandemic. A further three in five (60 per cent) said they would be forced to make further redundancies in August when the coronavirus job retention scheme begins to taper off. 

More than half (53 per cent) did not expect their business to last longer than six months because of the crisis. UKinbound called on the government to provide more financial support to the sector as many businesses were "on their knees", and the risk of widespread redundancies was a "very real threat". 

2pm Birmingham REP Theatre announces job cuts

The Birmingham Repertory (REP) Theatre has announced it could be forced to cut up to 40 per cent of its workforce following the ongoing economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The theatre warned 47 jobs could be lost. The cuts come despite an emergency funding package from the government to bolster the arts sector in the wake of the pandemic. But the theatre said it had already lost 80 per cent of its income, leaving its current business model "unsustainable". 

In a statement issued by the venue, management officials said it was with "great sadness" that they had entered into a redundancy consultation period. It added: “Despite the very welcome news earlier this week of the government’s support package for the cultural sector, and Arts Council England’s emergency funds that partially mitigate our current losses, the reality for the REP is that we simply do not know when we will be able to reopen our doors and welcome audiences back into our building to enjoy live theatre again in a way that is safe for the public and financially viable for the theatre."

1.40pm Shakespeare Birthplace Trust warns of redundancies

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has announced it is in consultation with staff as it looks to cut costs in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which it says will result in an £8.5m loss of income for 2020. The charity said it intends to reopen Shakespeare's Birthplace this summer, but the other four sites – Anne Hathaway's Cottage, Shakespeare's New Place, Hall's Croft and Mary Arden's Farm – will remain closed until "at least spring 2021". The charity's sites, shops and cafes have been closed since 17 March, with a resulting loss of almost 90 per cent of income compared to last year. 

Tim Cooke, chief executive of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said the charity received a £900,000 award from Arts Council England's emergency fund, and this gave the charity the opportunity to reopen one site this summer. But the additional funds were not enough to prevent potential job cuts. He added: "Like many organisations operating in the culture, tourism, hospitality and retail arenas, the trust has to look at its costs. Regrettably, this will mean a reduction to our workforce, and the trust is in consultation with its employees to look at options to reduce employee numbers, wherever possible through a voluntary redundancy scheme and changes to working arrangements."

1.20pm Low-paid workers bearing the brunt of Covid fall in employment, study finds

Low-income workers are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic as a result of being laid off in higher numbers and so missing out on government support, according to research. 

The analysis, which provides the first detailed assessment of official labour force survey data during the height of the coronavirus crisis between February and April, found that employment for those in low-paid roles fell by four percentage points during this timeframe – equivalent to 140,000 jobs. In comparison, employment for those in higher-paying jobs remained unchanged during the same period. 

The study said this suggested there was a sizeable group of low-income workers missing out on government support, such as the coronavirus job retention scheme and the self-employment income support scheme. 

9.30am Aon chief exec defends coronavirus pay cuts

The chief executive of Aon, Greg Case, has defended the company’s short-lived decision to cut staff salaries by a fifth during the pandemic, a controversial move that came just weeks after the company unveiled its $30bn acquisition of Willis Towers Watson. In an interview with the Financial Times, Case said the decision to reduce pay in April was taken after “sober analysis” of the situation. “Hope is not a strategy,” he said. “We are committed to protecting 50,000 colleagues and their ability to serve clients… We are a fact-based organisation. We took fact-driven decisions.”

Aon was the only big insurance broker to reduce pay during the crisis. The cuts, which affected 60 per cent of staff, were reversed late last month and Aon is reimbursing employees for all the pay they lost plus an extra 5 per cent. But industry experts said this episode would still make it easier for Aon’s rivals to poach top talent.

9.15am Factory workers warned about risks of car sharing

A bed factory has seen eight workers test positive for coronavirus – the third in a series of outbreaks at similar sites in West Yorkshire. Highgrove Beds in Liversedge ceased production as a safety precaution with all staff offered tests. The outbreak follows cases at DeepSleep Beds in Ossett and Dura Beds in Batley over the past month. There have also been cases of coronavirus reported at two meat factories in West Yorkshire. 

Rachel Spencer-Henshall, director of public health at Kirklees Council, warned factory workers of the risk of car sharing: "With the bed factories, it's less about the industry itself and more about working in a factory setting. What interests me a lot more is how people get to and from work, because actually you find a lot of people are car sharing and in those scenarios you're in quite close contact with others for quite a long period of time, dependent on the commute."

9am Most Irish employees want to retain remote working option

More than 80 per cent of employees in the Republic of Ireland want to continue to spend at least part of their week working remotely after the pandemic abates, according to an AIB/Amárach Research survey. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of the 1,000-plus adults surveyed wanted to work two to three days a week from home, and 20 per cent stated a preference for one to two days. Another 20 per cent indicated they’d like to work three to four days a week at home and 14 per cent said they would like to go to the office only when needed. Just 15 per cent said they wanted to go back to the office exactly as they did before the pandemic.

7.45am Birmingham arts venues announce major job losses

Two of Birmingham’s most well-known arts venues, the Symphony Hall and Town Hall, have announced major staff cuts because of the Covid-19 crisis. The charity that runs the two halls said it would be losing around half of its 65 permanent staff and that reducing its workforce was necessary for the venues' long-term survival. The announcement also said the hundreds of freelancers who work on the shows and concerts staged at the two venues will not have work. 

In a statement, the venues said: “The future of these two iconic concert halls looks very different from the plans we began the year with. This period of closure has already resulted in huge losses and it is still unclear when it may be possible to reopen.” The venues called on the government for guidance on when the arts venues may be able to reopen – and the funding to reach that point. More than 90 per cent of the halls' turnover comes from ticket sales and other activities, which grinded to a halt because of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown measures. 

7.20am Face coverings in England's shops to be compulsory from 24 July

Wearing a face covering in shops and supermarkets in England is to become mandatory from 24 July, the government is to announce. Individuals who fail to comply with the new rules will face a fine of up to £100. Health secretary Matt Hancock is expected to set out the guidance on face coverings today (14 July). The move to make face coverings mandatory in shops will bring England in line with Scotland, Spain and Germany. 

The public has been advised to wear face coverings in enclosed public spaces since mid-May, and it has been compulsory to wear coverings on public transport since 15 June. But James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, warned in an interview with the BBC that it should not be the job of staff to "police" the policy of wearing face masks in shops if it should become compulsory.

Monday 13 July

5.30pm Halfords closures could lead to hundreds of job losses

Halfords has confirmed plans to close up to 60 stores and garages by April, saying that while it hoped to move staff to other branches, the closures could lead to hundreds of job losses. “Covid-19 has materially changed the retail outlook for the coming months and has overshadowed Brexit as the emerging risk,” the company said in a statement. Halfords, which was classed as an essential retailer, initially closed its stores during the lockdown but then gradually reopened – first for a collection-only service and then with physical distancing measures. Despite a 57 per cent rise in cycling-related sales during the coronavirus lockdown, Halfords warned it could fall to a £10m loss in the year ahead if sales fell by 9.5 per cent.

1.30pm Experts call for clarity on returning staff to offices amid conflicting ministerial messages

Boris Johnson has suggested employers should now ask office staff to return to work, in messaging that experts have highlighted conflicts both with current official guidance and a suggestion from health secretary Matt Hancock that the right to work from home could be more strongly enshrined in law. Speaking on ‘The People’s PMQs’ online on Friday (10 July), the prime minister hinted at a new strategy, saying people should “start to go to work now if [they] can”. He added: “I want to see more people feeling confident to use the shops, use the restaurants and get back into work – but only if we all follow the guidance.”

However, the new messaging has been criticised for being confusing, as official government guidance remains that reasonable steps should be taken by employers to help employees work from home – and that, while they should go back to work if they can’t work from home, staff should still work from home if they can. Hannah Essex, co-executive director of the British Chambers of Commerce, told the Financial Times that many businesses would be “confused by hearing one thing from politicians, and seeing another in black and white in the official guidance”. She added that the UK was still a “long way off” a full return to normal working patterns. 

1.20pm Not shop workers’ job to police face mask wearing, says Waterstones CEO

James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones, has told the BBC it should not be the job of staff to "police" the policy of wearing face masks in shops if this was to become compulsory. Boris Johnson has said people in England "should be wearing" face masks or other coverings inside shops and that the government would decide in the next few days if "tools of enforcement" were needed.

Daunt told the BBC's Today programme: "On public transport wearing a mask seems sensible. If the science backs it, then it is a perfectly reasonable thing, and I think people will become more familiar with shopping." But he added: "There are a tiny, tiny minority of people who will be confrontational over it and it is not the position of shop workers to enter into that situation.” Shop workers’ union Usdaw has urged the government to clarify its policy on face coverings in shops. "It should never fall on shop workers to enforce the wearing of face coverings; they are already dealing with more abuse than normal and this could be another flashpoint," warned Paddy Lillis, Usdaw general secretary.

12.10pm Remote working and disabled employees

Jonathan Rennie and Nicky Beach explain how businesses can ensure their working from home protocols don’t discriminate against disabled staff. 

12pm Around 30,000 jobs at risk in UK events sector

British events businesses have warned 30,000 jobs are at risk in the sector because the government has yet to set a date at which trade shows, exhibitions and conferences will be permitted to restart. Early communication will be “critical” as roughly 70 per cent of the 1,100 trade shows and exhibitions originally scheduled to run in the UK this year have been postponed to the final months of the year, said trade body the Events Industry Alliance (EIA). If no further events are run this year, the EIA has warned that more than a quarter of people in the sector will find themselves without a job.

9.20am John Lewis and Primark say they won’t claim job retention bonuses

John Lewis will not take up the £1,000 for every furloughed worker brought back to the shop floor it’s eligible for, The Telegraph has reported, following similar announcements from Primark and bookmakers William Hill. The retailer furloughed 14,000 shop workers at the start of the crisis but is not expected to collect any money from the Treasury’s job retention bonus, announced last week by chancellor Rishi Sunak.

Primark placed around 30,000 workers on the government's coronavirus job retention scheme, but it said it has now brought them all back and would not ask for the payment. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for M&S said it "welcomed" the support shown for businesses during the pandemic, but added: "However, at this stage, it's too early to confirm our plans to use the furlough bonus scheme announced by the chancellor earlier this week." McDonald's said it is "still working through the details of the chancellor's announcement" and is unable to comment.

9.15am Emirates set to axe 9,000 jobs

The president of Emirates airline, Sir Tim Clark, announced over the weekend that it is set to cut as many as 9,000 jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was the first time the world's biggest long-haul carrier has disclosed how many jobs would be lost. Before the crisis, Emirates had 60,000 staff. In an interview with the BBC, Clark said Emirates was "not as badly off as others" and that the airline had already cut a tenth of its staff. But, he said: "We will probably have to let go of a few more, probably up to 15 per cent."

9am Farm workers quarantined in Herefordshire outbreak

About 200 workers at a vegetable farm and packing business supplying Sainsbury’s, Asda, M&S and Aldi have been ordered to isolate on the property after an outbreak of coronavirus, it was reported over the weekend. At least 73 of the workers at A S Green & Co, based in Herefordshire, have tested positive for Covid-19, and more are awaiting results. All of the farm’s workforce has been told to isolate in their mobile homes. The group was being treated as an ‘extended bubble’ to reduce the risk of the outbreak spreading outside the farm, an official said. 

Most of the farm’s workforce are usually drawn from eastern Europe, but travel restrictions this year forced it to launch a local recruitment drive. In April the farm’s owner, Andrew Green, told the Hereford Times that the business was hoping to attract furloughed workers wanting to earn extra money.

Friday 10 July

4.30pm EasyJet accused of using sickness records to decide coronavirus-related job cuts

EasyJet has been accused of intending to use pilots' sickness records when drawing up plans for more than 700 job cuts being made in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. The Balpa pilots' union said it was "unnecessary and wrong", claiming the airline was risking safety because unwell staff would report for work. The airline acknowledged general absenteeism could form part of its assessment but said it had only put forward initial proposals to Balpa.

Brian Strutton, Balpa's general secretary, said easyJet was planning to use the start of the coronavirus period as part of its sickness timeframe. But the airline rejected Balpa's claims, saying in a statement: "We would never put forward proposals that would compromise safety as we have an industry-leading safety culture, as Balpa acknowledges. Safety is our number one priority and we are focused on doing what is right for the long-term health of the company and our people so we can protect jobs going forward.”

1.20pm How to combat survivor syndrome at work

HR must enlist the help of mentors and ensure former staff aren’t forgotten to tackle feelings of guilt among remaining employees, says David Clutterbuck. He added that every employer has “tough choices to make” as some employees will no longer have a job to return to when  businesses slowly reopen after lockdown. 

1.15pm How should people professionals handle a local lockdown?

People Management asks HR and employment law experts for advice on key points of concern, including contingency planning and staff commuting from affected areas

11.20am Majority of furloughed workers expect to return to the same job

More than seven in 10 workers who have been furloughed or have been unable to work because of the coronavirus outbreak believe they are likely to return to the same job after the crisis, official data has shown.

The latest figures on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak from the Office for National Statistics have shown 71 per cent of workers who have been temporarily laid off under the job retention scheme, who have faced a temporary closure of their workplace or who have been asked to take leave  said they were likely or very likely to return to that job. In comparison, 9 per cent said they were unlikely or very unlikely to return to the same job, while 11 per cent said they “didn’t know”.

The figures have found over half (56 per cent) of working adults have said the coronavirus has impacted on their work, up from 52 per cent last week. However, the proportion of working adults who had either worked at home or traveled to work remained steady at 78 per cent.

The was a little change in the number of adults travelling to work in the last seven days compared to the previous week (48 per cent and 49 per cent respectively), and the proportion of adults who had worked exclusively from home had also remained steady at 30 per cent over the last seven days compared to 29 per cent the previous week.

11.10am Face coverings compulsory in Scotland’s shops

The Scottish government has announced that wearing a face covering is now compulsory in shops, while Police Scotland encourages shoppers to raise concerns with shop staff as police enforcement would be a last resort. 

There are exemptions for people with certain medical conditions or disabilities, and children under five. ACC Gary Ritchie told the BBC: "We would encourage people to raise any concerns with business owners or staff in the first instance."

8.10am Tax boss questions value of Rishi Sunak's furlough bonus and meal discount schemes

Plans unveiled by chancellor Rishi Sunak to stem coronavirus job losses and "kickstart" the hospitality sector may not be value for money for taxpayers, a top official has warned. HMRC boss Jim Harra wrote to Sunak to express concerns about paying firms a £1,000 bonus to retain furloughed staff and questioned the value for money of a discount scheme at restaurants. Sunak rejected his concerns, saying action was needed to save jobs. 

In his letters, sent before Wednesday's announcements, Harra said there was "sound policy rationale" behind both programmes, but it was hard to estimate their effectiveness.

7.25am 450 jobs under threat at Newport's Celtic Manor company

Bosses at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, which hosted the Ryder Cup in 2014 and the 2014 Nato conference, have told staff that 450 of its nearly 1,000 jobs are to be made redundant due to the impact of coronavirus on the tourism sector. The Celtic Collection, which owns the resort and the International Convention Centre, is one of Newport's major employers. 

The hotel has been shut since the lockdown began on 23 March and is scheduled to reopen on 14 July. But bosses said it will only do so "under reduced capacities and restricted facilities in line with safety guidelines to mitigate the risk of coronavirus". As such, the firm said its current financial model is not "sustainable" due to "drastically reduced occupancies and revenues". 

Thursday 9 July

5.10pm Swimming pools and gyms to reopen at the end of the month

As of this weekend, live performances will be allowed outside and recreational sports including football and cricket will be permitted, the culture secretary has said. In a temporary reprieve of the daily Downing Street press briefing, Oliver Dowden also outlined a timeline for reopening gyms and swimming pools: from Saturday outdoor pools and water parks will be allowed to open, followed by indoor pools, gyms and leisure centres from 25 July. “We’ll be giving gyms the certainty, clarity and time they need to reopen safely so that the maximum number can open their doors in just two weeks’ time,” said Dowden.

Beauticians, tattooists, spas, tanning salons and other “close contact services” will also be allowed to open from Monday, subject to some restrictions.

2.40pm First arrest made for 'furlough fraud'

A man from Solihull in the West Midlands has been arrested on suspicion of defrauding the government's furlough scheme out of £495,000. The arrest is the first in relation to fraudulent claims to the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS). HMRC said it had arrested a 57-year-old male on Wednesday (8 July), in connection with allegations of furlough fraud. HMRC also seized computers and froze funds in the man's bank account. 

Richard Las from HMRC's fraud investigation service said the scheme is part of a "collective national effort to protect jobs", adding: "The vast majority of employers will have used the CJRS responsibly, but we will not hesitate to act on reports of abuse of the scheme."

1.30 pm Making a success of remote hearings

In this age of virtual meetings, Angelica Rokad outlines how employers can best prepare for and take part in tribunal proceedings online

1.20pm Parents have felt the love during lockdown – but what about working carers?

Those who look after a partner, friend or parent on top of their jobs are often overlooked for support by employers, but hopefully this will change post lockdown, says Tolu Farinto.

12.20pm John Lewis and Boots to cut thousands of jobs

Two of the UK’s biggest high street retailers, Boots and John Lewis, are to cut 5,300 jobs between them. Boots has announced a “significant restructuring” of its head office and store teams, which will see it close 48 of its opticians stores and reduce headcount by 4,000, equivalent to 7 per cent of its workforce.

John Lewis has also announced it will not be reopening eight of its stores that were closed during lockdown, putting at risk 1,300 jobs. In a statement, John Lewis Partnership said the stores closing were already in financial difficulties, but that the coronavirus outbreak had accelerated the existing trend away from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping. 

Sebastian James, managing director of Boots UK, said: “We recognise that today’s proposals will be very difficult for the remarkable people who make up the heart of our business, and we will do everything in our power to provide the fullest support during this time." 

Sharon White, chair of John Lewis Partnership, said the business would do everything it could to reduce job losses.

10.30am A third of UK companies planning to freeze pay because of coronavirus

A third of UK employers have frozen pay because of the coronavirus outbreak, a survey by Willis Towers Watson has found. Of the businesses polled for its Salary Budget Planning Report, 35 per cent said they were planning to freeze pay or postpone pay rises, and 39 per cent have reduced annual bonuses. The poll found businesses had been budgeting for an average of 3 per cent pay rises, however the economic impact of the virus has led employers to reduce this down to 2.7 per cent – a 10 per cent reduction on average.

Keith Coull, senior director in Willis Towers Watson’s Global Data Services business, said it was no surprise that many companies were reducing their pay budgets. “Most companies around the world are in cash preservation and cost optimisation mode and 80 per cent of companies in the biggest economies have already implemented a hiring freeze,” he said. “The full extent of the economic impact of the pandemic is yet to play out.”

However, the survey found the outlook for next year was more positive. Pay budgets for 2021 were expecting to increase to an average of 2.9 per cent pay rises – close to pre-coronavirus levels – although more than one in 10 firms (12 per cent) were still planning a salary freeze for next year.

7.30am Burger King boss warns of UK job cuts

The boss of Burger King UK has warned that economic damage triggered by the coronavirus pandemic could push the chain to permanently shut 10 per cent of its restaurants. The closures would result in more than 1,600 jobs lost. Speaking to BBC's Newscast, Alasdair Murdoch, chief executive of Burger King UK, said the government’s schemes to help the restaurant industry announced yesterday do not go far enough to help businesses overcome lost sales and fixed costs. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government would subsidise half (50 per cent) of restaurant bills up to £10 per person on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August, in an effort to jumpstart consumer spending. Murdoch said Burger King expected to participate in the scheme. But despite government support, he said the chain could close 5 per cent to 10 per cent of its stores as a result of costs such as rent and "taking absolutely no money".

Wednesday 8 July 

6.20pm Employers ‘not convinced’ by Sunak’s job retention bonus

The announcement of a new package of coronavirus support measures by the chancellor has received a lukewarm welcome from business groups, with many warning more is needed to avoid large-scale unemployment. Peter Cheese, chief executive at the CIPD, said he was “not convinced” the job retention bonus would incentivise employers to bring back furloughed workers in greater numbers than they had already planned. “A simpler way of protecting jobs, and especially those of younger people, would be to extend the job retention scheme for key sectors such as hospitality and leisure beyond October,” he said.

This latest set of announcements may have also come too late for businesses, many of which have already made plans around headcount in time for the introduction of the flexible furlough scheme, which started on 1 July. “A lot [of employers] have not taken advantage of the flexible furlough scheme because of the high administrative burden,” said Ranjit Dhindsa, head of employment at Fieldfisher. “Offering the bonus now with only three weeks to go in July and a further tapering of the furlough scheme [in August]... the £1,000 might not be enough.”

2.30pm Restaurant bill discount offered to bolster hospitality sector under government plans

Diners will get a 50 per cent discount off their restaurant bill during August under government plans to bolster the hospitality sector. Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the "eat out help out" discount as part of a series of measures to restart the economy during the coronavirus crisis. Sunak said the UK was facing an "unique moment" because of the pandemic and that "we need to be creative" to help businesses negatively affected by coronavirus.

He said the plan was aimed at getting "customers back into restaurants, cafes and pubs" and protecting "the 1.8 million people who work in them". Businesses that want to take part in the scheme will have to register through a website that opens on 13 July.

1.40pm Chancellor announces temporary job creation scheme for under-25s

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has today revealed a raft of measures to protect jobs and restart the economy after lockdown, including a £2bn temporary job creation scheme for workers aged 18 to 24. Announced in Sunak’s summer statement, the investment aims to shield Britain’s young people – the age group hardest hit by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic – from unemployment.

Under the “kickstart scheme”, the government will fund six-month job placements with a minimum of 25 hours per week through Universal Credit for 350,000 young people aged 18 to 24 who are at risk of long-term unemployment. This is three times as many jobs than the previous Future Jobs Fund (FJF), which was introduced in response to the last financial crisis of 2009. 

12.45pm Furlough scheme responsible for productivity drop, says ONS

The introduction of the furlough scheme has caused a drop in UK productivity, as worker hours have been reduced without a change to their employment status, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has said. The latest productivity figures from the ONS have shown that output per worker fell by 3.1 per cent in the first quarter of the year, from January to March, a time period which includes the start of lockdown and the government’s job retention scheme. During this period there was a 1.2 per cent fall in the number of hours worked.

However the official figures  – the first from the ONS to shed insight onto the impact of the coronavirus on UK productivity –  also show that when looking at productivity per hour worked, the drop was only 0.6 per cent. The latest figures also showed the cost of labour increased 6.2 per cent in the first three months of 2020 when compared to the previous year – the largest increase since 2006. This could also be due in part to the furlough scheme, which has helped support the cost of labour despite the fall in productivity.

11.55am Reward after Covid-19 will look very different

Many firms will have to maintain pay cuts for some time, says Ruth Thomas, but they must strike a careful balance to retain and attract talent.

11.50am Supporting mental health during lockdown

Richard Isham explains how employers can best safeguard the psychological wellbeing of their staff while they work from home.

11.45am Hillingdon Hospital closes to emergencies after Covid-19 outbreak among staff

Hillingdon Hospital – the main hospital in Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency – has been forced to close to emergency admissions after an outbreak of coronavirus among staff, according to the EveningStandard

The Standard’s health editor also reported on Twitter that 70 staff were currently self-isolating.

A spokesperson for the trust said arrangements were in place to “maintain safe and high quality care” and that any impact on patients has been “kept to an absolute minimum”.

11.30am More than 100 jobs threatened at Leeds Bradford Airport

More than 100 jobs are under threat at Leed Bradford Airport (LBA) as a result of the impact the coronavirus has had on the aviation industry. The airport said it has begun consulting with staff on temporary and zero-hour contracts, who would usually have been employed during the summer holiday season, and some workers in other roles. 

A spokesperson for LBA said the aviation industry, like many other sectors, are operating under challenging circumstances which led LBA to make "some difficult decisions" in letting staff go. They added: "The long-term prognosis for aviation is very different to the short-term constraints our business faces, and we remain committed to ensuring we have the right offer for passengers when the time comes through our replacement terminal scheme.”

9am DHL to cut 2,200 jobs at Jaguar Land Rover plants

Approximately 2,200 jobs supplying Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) manufacturing plants are at risk, according to reports by trade unions. Unite said 40 per cent of DHL Supply Chain staff at manufacturing plants in the Midlands and North West may lose their jobs. Unite said it was a "massive, bitter blow" and called on the government to protect car manufacturers who have seen a decline in sales and production due to coronavirus. 

DHL Supply Chain said it would aim to redeploy staff where possible. Agency workers at risk are employed at JLR plants in Castle Bromwich, Ellesmere Port, Halewood, Hams Hall, Midpoint, Solihull and Tyrefort. Unite said they are employed to deliver parts to warehouses and production lines and also transport completed vehicles.

8.20am Most Covid-19 hospital staff in Scotland have returned to their own jobs

Most Scottish hospital staff who were working with coronavirus patients have now returned to their own jobs, health officials have confirmed. For three months from March, NHS Scotland moved workers into Covid-19 response teams to tackle the crisis, with some healthcare staff working at different hospitals from the usual workplace. However, officials have said staff have moved back into their original pre-pandemic roles, and more activity could be seen in hospitals unrelated to the crisis. 

7.40am Chancellor to unveil 'kickstart’ jobs scheme for young people

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to announce a £2bn "kickstart” scheme later today in an effort to create more jobs for young people in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The fund will subsidise six-month work placements for people on Universal Credit aged between 16 and 24 who are at risk of long-term unemployment. The announcement will also include the jobs pledge alongside a £3bn "green" fund, boosts for apprenticeships, promises to create 30,000 new traineeships in England and doubling the number of front line staff at job centres.

Tuesday 7 July

5.15pm Unions criticise Boris Johnson’s ‘despicable’ comments on care homes

Unison and the National Care Forum have hit back at Boris Johnson’s comments that care homes “didn’t really follow the procedures” during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Vic Rayner, executive director of the National Care Forum described the prime minister’s statement as “neither accurate nor welcome” and criticised the government’s “stops and starts” guidance. A spokesperson for Unison said it was “despicable for Boris Johnson to blame incredible, dedicated care workers for his own government's failings”, and called for the prime minister to commit to “proper, lasting reform of social care”.

3.40pm Employer Covid-19 tests subject to income tax

Employees who have Covid-19 tests paid for by their employer will have to pay tax on them, according to the BBC

New guidance from HMRC treats the tests as a ‘benefit in kind’ and so subject to income tax. Following warnings from Treasury Committee chair Mel Stride that tax bills will “mount”, especially for those organisations that require regular testing, chancellor Rishi Sunak has promised to look into the issue “very quickly”.

2pm Most office staff reluctant to return to public transport this year, poll finds

The majority of employees would not be comfortable returning to public transport for their commute for the rest of this year because of coronavirus, according to a survey. Nearly nine in 10 (88 per cent) employees polled said they would not be comfortable commuting to work on public transport at all during the rest of 2020, while 55 per cent said they were generally concerned about returning to the office.

And more than seven in 10 (71 per cent) employees said they were planning on going back to the office in a “phased, partial” manner once allowed to return. The poll, which surveyed a mix of 482 business leaders and employees and was conducted by Breathe, Posture People and HR Central, also found half (51 per cent) of business leaders planned to limit the number of people in the office to adhere to social distancing rules. 

11.50am How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Surrey and Sussex Police

Collapsing traditional HR structures, rich data collection and revamped recruitment processes ensured both forces remained operational during the crisis.

10.15am Pubs in England close after positive test results 

At least three pubs have closed their doors after reopening on what has since been dubbed ‘Super Saturday’, due to large crowds of people flocking to bars and pubs. The establishments in Somerset, West Yorkshire and Hampshire have closed their premises and are undertaking a deep clean after customers notified them of testing positive for Covid. 

Hospitality and pub trade bodies published guidance on how to operate contact tracing, which involves taking contact details from one person in a group and holding the information for 21 days. They must also note the arrival time and how long they stay.

8.20am Barrhead Travel confirms redundancy plan

Scottish travel agency Barrhead Travel has confirmed plans to make staff redundant due to ongoing travel restrictions, quarantine uncertainty and the fact it will have to contribute to the costs of the furlough system from next month. It has not said how many jobs will be cut, but at least one branch in Glasgow will close. 

Barrhead Travel currently runs 76 outlets across Scotland and also has offices in Newcastle, Cumbria, Southampton, Leicester and Belfast. Jacqueline Dobson, president of Barrhead Travel, said the firm is having to make difficult decisions as a result of the impact of Covid-19 on holidays, which she says is "in common with many others in our industry". She said: "Customer confidence has been dented by the ongoing uncertainty surrounding quarantine and travel restrictions. This, combined with the imminent closure of the furlough scheme, means we have had to announce a number of redundancies."

7.45am Daily Mirror owner Reach to cut 550 jobs

Reach – the owner of the Daily Mirror, OK! magazine and a host of regional newspapers – is to cut 12 per cent of its workforce as it struggles with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The publisher said about 550 people could lose their jobs as it saw revenue slip nearly 30 per cent in the quarter leading up to June. 

Jim Mullen, chief executive of Reach, said the downturn in sales was linked to a fall in circulation and advertising revenue. As such, he said the group had completed plans to "transform the business" to meet future challenges. He added: "Regrettably, these plans involve a reduction in our workforce, and we will ensure all impacted colleagues are treated with fairness and respect throughout the forthcoming consultation process."

Monday 6 July

5pm Jobs in theatres, galleries and museums still at risk despite support package 

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden has said the £1.5bn emergency support package to help protect the future of theatres, galleries and museums will “not be enough to save every job”. He said: "Sadly, not everyone is going to be able to survive and not every job is going to be protected and sadly, I will have to be honest with you, of course we will see further redundancies."

Dowden claimed the grants and loans were intended to preserve “crown jewels” in the arts sector such as the Royal Albert Hall and national galleries, according to the BBC. He said institutions seeking a cash injection would have to apply through industry bodies and prove their contribution to wider economic growth. 

3.40pm Scotland reopens beer gardens and outdoor cafes

Beer gardens and outdoor cafes in Scotland are able to open today for the first time in 15 weeks. As well as following strict social distancing and hygiene rules, patrons will be asked to leave their contact details so they can be traced in the event of an outbreak. Pubs and restaurants in Scotland will be able to welcome customers indoors from 15 July as part of phase three of the Scottish government's route map out of lockdown, which first minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to confirm on Thursday (9 July).

2pm Unions and charities call for furlough extension to protect jobs and vulnerable staff

Unions and charities have called on the chancellor to extend the furlough scheme beyond October to protect jobs and allow high-risk individuals to continue shielding. In a joint statement put out over the weekend, unions – including the TUC, Unite and the GMB – warned that without “bold action” from the government this week the UK faced the prospect of “mass unemployment on a scale not seen since the 1980s”.

The announcement followed a week in which thousands of job cuts were announced by large companies and high street names, including Harrods, John Lewis and Arcadia Group, which owns the brands Topshop and Miss Selfridge. Just today (6 July), coffee shop chain Pret A Manger announced plans to close 30 stores and cut 1,000 jobs. The TUC has also joined a number of charities, including Age UK, Carers UK, Macmillan and Diabetes UK, in calling for the furlough scheme to be extended to protect shielding individuals, warning that many of those at high risk from coronavirus faced having to choose between their health and their jobs.

1.30pm Firms to receive £1,000 grants for taking on trainees

Businesses in England will be given £1,000 grants to take on trainees as part of a government bid to address mounting fears around coronavirus-fuelled youth unemployment. The government has pledged to expand its existing traineeship scheme to provide 30,000 new traineeships under a £111m funding boost to help young people in England get work experience. The plan is for the expanded scheme to be in place in England from September 2020. 

Lizzie Crowley, skills adviser at the CIPD, said that in the past the traineeship scheme had been positively received as a pathway to further learning, apprenticeships or employment. But, she explained, adding that this increase in traineeships needed to be part of a larger package around job creation measures. "It's unlikely there will be jobs for these young people to go into at the end of their placement,” she warned.

1pm Pret A Manger to cut 1,000 jobs

Sandwich chain Pret A Manger is expected to cut at least 1,000 jobs from an overall restructuring exercise. This came as the firm announced the closure of 30 outlets. Pret said the impact of Covid-19 on trading meant it had to make a "difficult decision", and it needed to reduce headcount across its shops to "reflect lower footfall, rental costs and new safety measures".

As well as closing 30 shops before the end of the year, Pret said the number of workers in other shops will be reduced, support teams will be restructured and a sale process will be started for the lease of its main support office in London Victoria. The announcement comes as Pret said 339 of its 410 shops across the UK have reopened following the easing of lockdown restrictions. 

12.30pm Maintaining diversity and inclusion efforts during Covid-19

As businesses ease out of lockdown and the inevitable cost-cutting begins, employers should make sure D&I doesn’t drop off their to do list, advises Alison Woods.

12.20pm Where will we work post Covid-19?

Justine James makes the case for employers to offer a balance of office and home working once the coronavirus pandemic is over.

9.40am Several universities facing insolvency due to Covid 

The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that up to 13 of the UK’s 165 universities face a “very real prospect” of insolvency, due to coronavirus. While the IFS does not name the universities in question, it claims that the least prestigious are at the greatest risk. 

IFS researchers told the BBC the crisis poses a “significant financial threat” and predicts the total size of the sector’s losses could be anywhere between £3bn and £19bn, equal to between 7.5 per cent and almost half the sector's annual income.

9.10am Arts venues to be given £1.57bn government support

The government has unveiled a £1.57bn support package to help protect the future of UK theatres, galleries, museums and other cultural venues, which have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden told BBC Breakfast that the package is all "new money" and has two broad aims – to preserve "crown jewel" venues like the Royal Albert Hall and national galleries, while also helping local institutions across the UK. 

As well as theatres and museums, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues will be eligible for the government support. This follows many theatres and venues saying they will be forced to make staff redundant in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The government is also expected to publish guidance for a phased return of the performing arts, starting with performances behind closed doors, but no official date for publication has been set. 

8.40am Government to announce traineeship funding scheme to boost employment

The government is pledging to provide 30,000 new traineeships to get young people in England into work, as fears about mounting unemployment after the coronavirus pandemic increase. Under the £111m government-funded boost, businesses in England will be given £1,000 for each traineeship they offer. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will receive £21m for similar schemes.

The traineeship funding is set to be announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday (8 July) when he will unveil the UK's economic plan to deal with the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis.

Friday 3 July

4.20pm Potential collapse of childcare sector puts women’s careers at risk, says Fawcett Society 

The Fawcett Society, the Federation of Small Businesses and a number of MPs have written to chancellor Rishi Sunak calling for immediate action for the childcare sector, describing it as “significantly harmed” by the current coronavirus crisis. According to the Guardian, the letter called on Sunak to protect women’s contributions to the economy, as social distancing has put limits on the capacity of nurseries, while a drastic fall in parental income has impacted the financial buoyancy of many childcare providers.

3.10pm Unions call for early pay rise for NHS staff

Unions representing some 1.3 million NHS workers have written to the government calling for talk on pay rises to begin at the end of this year, to reflect the effort staff have put into combatting the coronavirus crisis, the Guardian has reported.

Health workers are nearing the end of a three-year pay deal agreed under David Cameron in 2018. Writing to the current prime minister and chancellor, the coalition of 14 unions – including Unison, the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives, GMB and Unite – have asked for an early pay rise to show that workers in the health service are valued. The letter also calls for any pay rise to be extended to private contractors working within the NHS.

2.15pm Is D&I the key to surviving this crisis?

The Covid-19 crisis is likely to trigger a recession on a massive scale. However, it has also helped us see each other in a more human way, and the companies build a diverse and inclusive workforce and that get inclusion right will be more likely to survive, argues Caroline Whaley.

2pm Could Covid-19 help curb executive pay?

Executive pay has attracted criticism in recent years from investors, lenders, industry bodies and the government. Now, the coronavirus crisis also presents new lenses through which to view the issues, with the press quick to call out those who misstep. William Granger explains how the outbreak has affected the debate around excessive remuneration for senior managers.

10.20am Jobs postings increase as hospitality reopens

The number of unique job postings hit 990,000 in the last week of June – an increase of 27,000 from the first week of the month, figures from the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) have found. It said hospitality was the one of the largest drivers of the increase as pubs and bars prepare to reopen in England this week, with the number of active job postings increasing by 57 per cent for bar staff and 63 per cent for waiting staff between the first and last weeks of June.

Construction roles, including glazers, bricklayers and roofers also saw an increase in job postings. “The effects of easing the lockdown are clearly reflected in jobs postings data,” said Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC. “While many hospitality and construction firms will start by taking staff off furlough, the market for new jobs in these sectors is starting to improve from the record lows of the past few months.”

10am Workplace outbreaks of coronavirus double in last week

The number of suspected cases of coronavirus outbreaks in workplaces has doubled over the last week, Public Health England (PHE) has said. Figures released by PHE, and reported by the Guardian, showed in the week ending 28 June there were 43 acute respiratory outbreaks in workplaces – 22 more than the previous week. It added that workplaces were the only place where the spread of the virus was clearly increasing, and that transmissions were in decline in most other settings.

9am Bars, restaurants and cafes in Northern Ireland reopen 

Hotels, bars and restaurants can reopen in Northern Ireland from today, after the tourism industry lobbied for earlier reopening.  

Pubs and bars, which were originally slated to open from 20 July, must serve food on a table service basis, and those pubs who do not sell food will only be allowed to sell alcohol outdoors. Tourist attractions such as museums and heritage sites can also reopen.

Thursday 2 July

5.40pm Casual Dining Group goes into administration 

The owner of high street restaurant chains Cafe Rouge and Bella Italia has gone into administration according to BBC reports. A total of 91 Casual Dining Group outlets will “close immediately” and 1,900 of its 6,000 staff will lose their jobs. 

The closure follows a raft of high street retailers and restaurants that have been financially impacted by the crisis. 

2.30pm Scotland announce mandatory use of face coverings in shops 

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that the use of face coverings will become mandatory for customers in Scotland’s shops, as it enters ‘stage three’ of its Covid-19 route map from 9 July. Sturgeon said only young children and people with certain health conditions would be exempt from the mandatory ruling.

This stage will also see a relaxation of the physical distancing rule in pubs and restaurants when they can reopen on 15 July, but only if plastic screens or better ventilation is assured for patrons. Businesses will be expected to display “clear signage” to indicate the requirement for one-metre social distancing, and to collect a list of customer contact details to help trace them if an outbreak occurs. 

1.20pm New ‘office for talent’ will attract skills from abroad, says government

The government is to create an ‘office for talent’ as part of a bid to make the UK a more attractive destination for highly skilled individuals from abroad. Part of the government’s Research and Development Roadmap, launched by business secretary Alok Sharma yesterday (1 July), the new body will work with businesses and research institutions, such as UK Research and Innovation, to make it easier for individual researchers and scientists to move to the UK.

Sharma said that as part of the roadmap, the government would work with businesses and research institutions to develop policies to attract and retain science and engineering talent from overseas. This would start by expanding the global talent visa – launched earlier this year – to allow scientists and researchers to apply to move to the UK before securing a job.

12.40pm Investing in green recovery post Covid could create 1.6 million jobs, says study

Investing in green recovery could create 1.6 millions new jobs after the coronavirus crisis has ended, according to research. The report, compiled by think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), called on the government to invest urgently in a “jobs-led recovery” for the economy after the pandemic, focused on helping the UK meet its targets for improving air quality, lowering carbon dioxide emissions and restoring nature.

The IPPR warned that the investment promised so far on green recovery fell short of what was needed, with more required in order to create “clean, low-carbon jobs”. By investing in this area, the IPPR calculated the UK could create 1.6 million new jobs, which it argued offered the most effective route out of a post-coronavirus economic crisis. 

11.50am 10 workplace shifts caused by Covid – and their lasting effects

Rohit Talwar asks what new ways of thinking and working could take hold or be abandoned as we move beyond lockdown.

10am Arcadia Group to axe 500 head office jobs 

Arcadia Group, which owns high street retailers Miss Selfridge, Topshop and Dorothy Perkins, has announced it is restructuring its head office resulting in 500 job cuts. The group initially furloughed nearly all of its 2,500 head office employees, while senior leadership and board members took pay cuts of between 25 and 50 per cent. A spokesperson for the group said the impact of Covid-19 has meant a restructure was “essential to ensure that we operate as efficiently as possible during these very challenging times”. 

8.20am Welsh pubs and restaurants can open outdoors from 13 July

Some pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in Wales will be able to reopen their outdoor areas from 13 July under new Welsh government plans. Venues with outdoor spaces will be able to open to the public as long as coronavirus cases continue to fall, but indoor services will remain closed for now. More details on the reopening plans are expected at today's Welsh government press conference.

7.30am Clydesdale Bank recommences job cut plans put on hold during lockdown

Clydesdale Bank, now renamed Virgin Money, is to cut 300 roles as it closes branches in Scotland. The merger of the Glasgow-based lender with Virgin Money sees the removal of overlapping branches in areas across the country. The plan, which was announced in February, was put on hold when lockdown began. However, the bank has returned to the proposal, and Virgin Money announced the number of job losses – initially placed at 500 – would be reduced to 300 as more staff were deployed to customer service roles. Employees who would have been made redundant will be offered the option to keep working until 20 October to offer additional support to vulnerable customers in the wake of coronavirus. 

Lucy Dimes, group business transformation officer at Virgin Money UK, said: "While the decision to recommence these redundancies and branch closures has not been taken lightly, we are committed to integrating Virgin Money under one brand as a sustainable, innovative business that invests in improving its customer offer for the future."

Wednesday 1 July

3.45pm Harveys falls into administration but Bensons for Beds saved 

Administrators have announced that furniture chain Harveys will go into administration, but confirmed the survival of Bensons for Beds retail chain as part of a deal that will save 1,899 jobs. Harveys has joined many other high street retailers also financially impacted by Covid-19, by going into administration. It confirmed the immediate loss of 240 jobs but announced plans to retain 1,300 staff in the hope of securing a buyer. Administrators PwC confirmed a buyer had been secured for the Bensons for Beds arm, but a buyer for Harveys had yet to be found. Zelf Hussain, joint administrator and PwC deals partner, said the group had faced challenging trading conditions and cash flow pressures, “exacerbated by the effects of coronavirus on the supply chain and customer sales”. 

2.50pm Walkers confirms 28 Covid-19 cases at Leicester site

Snack manufacturer Walkers has confirmed 28 positive cases of Covid-19 at its Leicester site. The business, which employs 1,400 people across the site in Beaumont Leys, said it had seen a "steady increase" in the number of confirmed cases in June. The Leicester-based company said its track and trace procedure indicated the transmission of the virus was "not in our factory", believing the rise coincided “with the rollout and uptake of testing" in the city.

A Walkers spokesperson said: "We have shared our data and analysis with the health authorities, and they support the view that our situation reflects transmission in the community and we do not have a transmission issue onsite." Walkers added employees with a confirmed or suspected case were self-isolating on full pay. The news followed the government confirming earlier this week that it would tighten lockdown in Leicester following a spike in cases.

1.30pm Business groups call for greater job protection as PM announces Covid-19 ‘new deal’

Business groups have called for more to be done to protect jobs and boost skills as the prime minister yesterday (30 June) announced a ‘new deal’ to revitalise the economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. Speaking at an event in Dudley, Boris Johnson outlined what he described as an “ambitious” plan to use the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to fix some of the longstanding problems the UK has faced around skills, productivity, housing and the NHS.

As well as announcing a £5bn investment plan that includes money for hospital improvements, road maintenance and new schools, Johnson also reannounced plans to guarantee every young person the opportunity to start an apprenticeship. However, Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the CBI, called for a “jobs-first recovery” and warned more needed to be done to prevent unemployment.“The prime minister’s commitment to upgrade and decarbonise our transport infrastructure, in all UK regions and nations, lays strong foundations… [but] more is needed to prevent the uneven scarring unemployment leaves on communities,” she said.

1pm John Lewis and other retailers plan job cuts

Department store owner John Lewis has announced it is planning to cut jobs and stores in an effort to slash costs. The news came as Topshop owner Arcadia and luxury department store Harrods said they planned to cut as many as 1,180 jobs between them. John Lewis's plans were first shared with staff (who collectively own the company), with the number of stores and jobs to be affected yet to be decided. 

In a statement, John Lewis said it had come to the realisation that "we have too much store space for the way people want to shop now", and that it was unlikely the chain would reopen all stores as a result. This recent announcement followed a warning from the company in March that it could close shops, and that a plunge in profits had forced it to cut staff bonuses to their lowest level in almost 70 years.

12.20pm Why helping staff craft their own purpose is more crucial than ever

Julia Smith and Rob Baker explain how people teams can support employees to find their ‘North Star’ during and after the pandemic.

12.10pm Furlough has turned flexible – but what’s really changed?

With the tapering of the job retention scheme officially coming into force today, Paul Kelly discusses what the new rules will mean for businesses and employees.

12pm Nottingham City Council publishes local outbreak plan

Nottingham City Council has published a local outbreak control plan, detailing how it would work with partners, businesses and residents to manage and control a coronavirus outbreak in the city. It comes after councils were asked by the government to lead and manage the risk of potential future local outbreaks, such as the one seen in Leicester.

Alison Challenger, the city's director of public health, said: "[The plan] gives us the power to make the best decisions for our local citizens based on our local knowledge and expertise. We know that every incident will be different and that we will have to assess outbreaks on a case-by-case basis, but having a plan will allow us to respond quickly in a structured way." 

10.30am Belfast Zoo set to reopen this weekend

Belfast Zoo is set to reopen on Sunday (5 July) after it temporarily closed because of the  coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown restrictions in Northern Ireland. However, the zoo said the public will have to book in advance of visiting as no more than 1,000 people will be allowed in on each day. Additionally, the site will have sanitiser stations for visitors, and social distancing signs will be in place around the zoo. 

Alyn Cairns, manager of Belfast Zoo, said he was looking forward to reopening, but added that it would be different to the experience before the zoo closed. He also praised the efforts of staff during lockdown, and said staff levels had "never got to a worrying point". He did not comment on the financial impact the pandemic had on the zoo, but he acknowledged the zoo's closure would result in "some loss". 

9.20am EasyJet plans to close bases and cut staff

Airline easyJet has begun consultations on plans to close bases at Stansted, Southend and Newcastle. This follows an announcement that the airline may need to reduce its workforce by up to a third because of the coronavirus pandemic. Unite said nearly 1,300 UK crew members faced being made redundant, and pilots’ union Balpa said it had been told by easyJet that 727 UK-based pilots may lose their jobs. Balpa said this was equivalent to one in three easyJet pilots. 

Johan Lundgren, easyJet chief executive, said: "The lower-demand environment means we need fewer aircraft and have less opportunity for work for our people. We are committed to working constructively with our employee representatives across the network with the aim of minimising job losses as far as possible."

8.10am Upper Crust owner says up to 5,000 UK jobs could go

Upper Crust owner SSP Group has said up to 5,000 jobs could be cut across its UK outlets and head office, as it struggles with the reduction in passenger travel as a result of the pandemic. The firm said global sales in April and May were 95 per cent below the previous year’s. As a result, SSP said it expects only a fifth of its UK outlets at railway stations and airports to be open by the autumn.

SSP employs around 30,000 staff worldwide across 2,500 outlets, including deli operator Camden Food Co and bar chain Cabin. Last month, it said it had suffered "extremely low sales" after the coronavirus crisis forced it to shut some branches.

7.40am Menswear retailer TM Lewin to close all UK shops

TM Lewin has announced it will close all 66 of its UK shops, putting hundreds of jobs at risk. The firm said most of its 700 workers would be laid off as it took all of its sales online to help cut costs in the wake of the pandemic. Torque Brands, a subsidiary of Stonebridge Private Equity, bought the business in May. On Tuesday (30 June), it said it had struck a deal to avoid administration.

In a statement, Torque said the entire retail sector was facing a "very real threat". It said its team had worked to "assess all available avenues for the business model going forwards", but "formed the view that TM Lewin is no longer a viable going concern in its current format". It added: "The decision to significantly reduce the scale of the business in order to preserve its future will regrettably result in job losses at TM Lewin, as a direct result of the closing of the store network as we right-size the business."

7.20am Plane maker Airbus to cut 15,000 jobs

Airbus has said it plans to cut 15,000 jobs globally, including 1,700 jobs in the UK, as it deals with the effects of the coronavirus crisis. About 134,000 people work for Airbus worldwide, and around a tenth of them in the UK. The plane manufacturer said the UK cuts would fall only on the commercial aircraft division in its two sights at Broughton in Flintshire and Filton, Bristol. 

The move to cut jobs is subject to talks with unions, which have opposed the decision. Unite said the Airbus announcement was "another act of industrial vandalism" against the UK aerospace sector. Unite said it expected 1,116 manufacturing jobs and 611 office-based jobs to go, shrinking Airbus's UK workforce by 15 per cent. But Airbus has not yet confirmed any details.

Tuesday 30 June

5.10pm Employers in Leicester able to re-furlough staff

Downing Street has confirmed that the furlough scheme can still be utilised by firms that are affected by the imposed ‘local lockdown’ measures. 

The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “If employers have used the furlough scheme at any point between 1 March and 30 June, which of course many will have, they can re-furlough those employees from 1 July.” They also clarified that non-essential workers in retail who have been able to return to work, but now face another closure, will be eligible for the furlough scheme. This applies nationwide but “obviously it’s a particular circumstance to Leicester”. 

1.45pm Nine assembly line workers at Mini factory test positive for coronavirus 

Nine assembly line workers at the BMW-owned Mini car factory in Cowley, Oxford have tested positive for coronavirus. Eight of the nine staff affected were from one section of the assembly line and on the same shift, while one was from a different section. The BBC reported that a BMW spokesperson confirmed it was “monitoring the situation” and was in talks with Public Health England, and said it was operating “fully in line with government health and safety guidance”. 

1.25pm Half of BAME staff feel obliged to hide their personalities, survey finds

A study by consultancy Utopia has found that more than half of ethnic minority workers feel they have to mask part of their identity to fit in at the office as a result of pressure to aspire to a certain expression of professionalism that favoured their white counterparts. 

The research also found more than half of BAME workers (52 per cent) were afraid to show vulnerability at work for fear of being judged, compared to just 39 per cent of white employees. Tolu Farinto, changemaker at Utopia, said BAME staff – particularly those in the black community – faced pressure to form faux identities because businesses perpetuated cultures that expected workers to “act white”. 

1.20pm Handing over senior management functions during Covid-19

Merrill April and David Jones explain how organisations can manage handovers legally amid a crisis.

1.15pm How to protect the ability to adapt during a crisis

Harnessing our natural human capability to embrace change is critical to moving beyond fear into action growth, says Camelia Ram.

11.30am Many museums and galleries in England delay reopening

Many English galleries and museums will not reopen on 4 July, despite being given the go-ahead by the government to do so. Last week, the government confirmed that museums and galleries could open from Saturday 4 July, as could cinemas, pubs, restaurants, hotels, hairdressers, libraries, theme parks and zoos.

However, the National Gallery said it will be welcoming visitors from 8 July and will be the first major London gallery to reopen its doors after lockdown restrictions are lifted. The Royal Academy also announced its plans today to reopen from 9 July, with face masks compulsory. The Barbican gallery will open on 13 July. Tate said its four venues would not reopen their doors until 27 July. In their announcements, the National Gallery, Tate, Barbican and Royal Academy all said visitors would need to book timed tickets in advance to help keep social distancing measures in place.

11am Cineworld delays reopening of UK cinemas to 31 July

Cineworld, the world's second-largest cinema chain, has pushed back the reopening of its UK cinemas to 31 July, blaming a delay in new film releases. The chain previously said it would reopen theatres in both the UK and the US on 10 July. But Cineworld said it has pushed back opening up cinemas to the public as films, including Disney's live action remake Mulan and Christopher Nolan's Tenant, have been delayed. 

In a statement, the company said the move was "in line with recent adjustments to the schedule of upcoming movie releases". When it does open its doors, Cineworld said there would be measures in place to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmission including seating capacity limits and contactless payments. 

9.30am UK unemployment could hit 9 per cent

Unemployment in the UK is expected to hit 9 per cent as the furlough scheme is wound down, the latest monetary policy report from the Bank of England has warned. The Times reported that the bank had also forecast output would shrink 14 per cent over the coming year, and that it would take two years for the economy to recover to pre-Covid levels. Separately, figures from the ONS have shown the UK economy shrank 2.2 per cent between January and March, the joint largest fall since 1979 and larger than the 2 per cent initially estimated.

9.20am Local lockdown in Leicester confirmed

The government has confirmed it will tighten lockdown in Leicester following a spike in cases in the city. As well as shutting non-essential shops from today and closing schools for most pupils on Thursday (2 July) – to give parents time to make necessary childcare arrangements – the loosening of restrictions on pubs and other hospitality venues happening across the rest of the country on Saturday (4 July) will not happen in Leicester. The health secretary, Matt Hancock, said the city had seen 10 per cent of all positive cases in England this week.

Monday 29 June

1.20pm Just one in 10 parents want to return to the office full time, survey finds

The majority of working parents wish to keep flexible working arrangements brought on by the coronavirus crisis after lockdown restrictions are eased, according to a survey, with just one in 10 (13 per cent) wanting to return to the office full time. More than half (55 per cent) said they would choose to spend no more than three days at their office with the rest working from home after lockdown restrictions have been relaxed. Furthermore, 15 per cent said they wished to continue working remotely permanently after lockdown, and 14 per cent said they would like to work from home the majority of the time, visiting the office just once a week.

The survey, conducted by Bright Horizons with the help of, Families Magazine and, found that while nearly all respondents (96 per cent) worked mostly or exclusively in offices or other places of work before lockdown, more than two-thirds (68 per cent) had been working from home since lockdown began. More than half (53 per cent) agreed further flexibility would increase their productivity, and a similar number (58 per cent) said it would increase their loyalty to their organisation. Only 6 per cent and 5 per cent respectively disagreed.

12.40pm Think tank calls for continued wage subsidies in hospitality and retail

The UK needs a ‘job protection scheme’ in the sectors hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis to subsidise wage costs after the furlough scheme ends, a think tank has said. As the government prepares to wind down its job retention scheme, the Resolution Foundation has argued that continued government support is needed in sectors including hospitality, retail and leisure to prevent job losses.

In its report, the think tank warned that while these sectors were expected to enjoy something of a bounceback when they reopened at the end of this week, ongoing social distancing measures were likely to have a dampening effect. It noted that trips to the shops in France and Germany were still down 17 and 13 per cent respectively, despite both countries having reopened their economies significantly more than the UK.

12.20pm Gender pay reporting in the age of coronavirus

With this year’s requirements suspended, organisations should use this time to continue collecting data and build better processes for compliance, say Beth Hale and David Jones.

12pm Give more power to your people as they return to work

Now is a good time to remember the importance of handing staff control, says Sarah Jackson – it will help your business survive Covid-19.

9.20am Pubs and restaurants in Leicester could remain closed as cases spike 

A surge in coronavirus cases could see pubs and restaurants in Leicester remain closed for a further two weeks, city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby has said. 

Soulsby told BBC Radio 4 that the measures were “very different from the dramatic ‘lockdown in Leicester’ that was being briefed over the weekend”. He said: "What they're suggesting is not a return to lockdown. It seems they're suggesting we continue the present level of restriction for a further two weeks, beyond 4 July." 

8.30am More shops and workplaces reopen as lockdown restrictions ease in Scotland

Shops with on-street access and some workplaces such as factories are reopening following an easing of Scotland's lockdown. The reading of the restrictions is the first time many stores and workplaces will see people return since the Scottish lockdown came into effect on 23 March. This move forms part of phase two of the Scottish government's easing of lockdown, and further restrictions are due to be eased later this week. 

But despite the change, the government urged people to continue following social distancing rules and advised shoppers to wear face coverings inside shops. The easing of lockdown rules will also allow safari parks and zoos to be reopened to local guests, small weddings and civil partnerships can now be held outdoors and play parks can also reopen.

Friday 26 June

3.50pm Social care workers at increased risk of death from coronavirus, ONS finds

Social care workers, including care workers and home carers, have significantly raised rates of death involving Covid-19, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The research, which analysed deaths involving the coronavirus in different occupational groups, found men working in social care in England and Wales are 2.5 times (rates of 50.1 deaths per 100,000 men) more likely to die from Covid-19 than working-age men as a whole. Women who work in social care also had a mortality rate twice that of working age women more generally, with rates of 19.1 deaths per 100,000 women (171 deaths).

Commenting on the research, Suzie Bailey, director of leadership and organisational development at the King’s Fund, said care staff have been "let down" by the government, and it was clear that the sector had been "neglected" during the pandemic with "disastrous consequences". She said: "The virus still poses a very real threat and care workers need to be prioritised and protected. Social care must never again be treated as an afterthought to the NHS, but as an equal partner in an interdependent system."

2.20pm Long-serving BA cabin crew told to accept pay cut or lose their jobs

British Airways has told its longest-serving cabin crew they face a 20 per cent pay cut or they will lose their jobs. In an email sent last night which was seen by the BBC, the airline said the aviation industry would look "very different" after the coronavirus crisis. Under a new plan to help BA weather the pandemic, long-serving cabin crew will need to re-sign under new terms, which include a pay cut. The airline says these terms will bring longer-serving, better paid staff in line with newer recruits who earn "market-competitive" salary rates. 

The move is the latest offer in BA's ongoing consultations with Heathrow-based staff. The airline has said up to 12,000 jobs could go from the 42,000-strong workforce. However, MPs have called BA's plans "a national disgrace". A recent report by the transport select committee accused the airline of a "calculated attempt to take advantage" of the pandemic by cutting thousands of jobs and downgrading workers' terms and conditions.

1.40pm Charity warns millions of migrants risking their health to work

Nearly 1.4 million people in the UK cannot access public funds because of their immigration status, a charity estimates, with many risking their health in order to keep working during the pandemic. Research by the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford suggests some 1,376,158 people have no recourse to public funds (NRPF) because their immigration status is not finalised. Citizens Advice, which shared the research, said this meant many non-EU migrants cannot access most benefits, such as Universal Credit, child benefit, housing benefit, and a range of allowances and tax credits.

As a result, the charity says some migrants have faced the “impossible choice” between returning to work while ill so they can continue to earn, and staying at home, as per public health guidance, but losing their income. Citizens Advice said since 11 March, the day Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic, it has been supporting someone regarding concerns about NRPF every 20 minutes on average. The research found migrants from non-EEA countries are disproportionately more likely to work in frontline roles, including in healthcare, social care and security. 

1.10pm Plymouth City Council staff facing redundancy as £10m in cuts announced

Plymouth City Council has confirmed it is offering voluntary redundancies to all staff as part of a package to save £10m. The council said the voluntary release scheme is hoped to help avoid compulsory cuts. But Plymouth Unison said the redundancy measures are "no kind of reward" for staff's efforts after working "incredibly hard to respond to a crisis not in their making".

However, the council said the voluntary scheme will help contribute to the £10m savings needed to balance the books this financial year. It praised staff for maintaining services while "dealing with these ongoing financial challenges". Unison called for "immediate investment" in councils by the government to balance all councils’ budgets without requiring them to make cuts as a result of the crisis.

1pm Half of Newcastle’s Theatre Royal staff facing redundancy

Almost half of Theatre Royal staff in Newcastle are facing redundancy as the venue deals with the “devastating” impact of the pandemic. It is the latest venue in the performing arts sector to report redundancy plans, following the likes of Theatre Royal Plymouth, Keswick’s Theatre by the Lake and the Wales Millennium Centre. The Newcastle Theatre Royal, which last week announced it would remain closed until November, said it would be making 44 of its 89 full and part-time staff redundant as it grapples with loss of income since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

The theatre said in the statement that it is unable to reopen until social distancing measures are removed, and it will have to significantly reduce the size of its workforce as a result. It added the majority of the remaining staff would be asked to go on to a retainer, and just 13 staff continuing to work on reduced hours and pay. The government has published a five-stage roadmap to help get England’s beleaguered theatres, concert halls and arts centres back up and running, but it has yet to announce a definitive timeline for when this plan will be implemented. 

12.45pm Government proposes extending furlough fraud reporting window

The amnesty period for employers to self-report any cases of ‘furlough fraud’ to the government is to be extended to three months, according to proposed amendments to the finance bill

Under a draft bill going through parliament, employers that have either knowingly misused the furlough scheme, or think they may have accidentally done so, will be given a 90-day window to admit their mistake to the government – up from 30 days in a previous draft of the bill.

The new draft legislation will also extend HMRC’s powers to check that any coronavirus-related grants made to employees have been used correctly – in the case of the furlough scheme, to pay workers’ wages – and to ensure employers have not been overpaid in any form of reimbursement.

12pm Mike Ashley could be investigated by HMRC over ‘abuse of furlough scheme’

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley's retail empire is alleged to be at the top of an HMRC list of businesses to investigate after a series of complaints were made around alleged breaches of the government’s job retention scheme, according to reports by the i newspaper. HMRC is reported to be considering a number of complaints made against Ashley’s Frasers Group – which includes House of Fraser, Sports Direct and Evans Cycles – from staff who allege they were asked to work while on furlough. If proven to be true, this would be a breach of the furlough scheme's rules and may lead to the government claiming back millions in fraudulent furlough payments.

An HMRC source told i that Ashley was one of the names at the top of what he called a “hit list”, and that a number of other household names were also being looked into, including Sir Philip Green's retail empire Arcadia. The source said: "We’re already looking into whether we can claw back some Covid cash from them. If there’s any way we can, we will. So far it’s looking like there is a case for both to answer."

11.55am How Covid-19 has demolished traditional office structures

The pandemic is enabling organisations to reset and rethink how they operate in future, says Siobhan Brunwin, people director at MullenLowe Group UK. 

11.50am How to return from lockdown safely – and legally

Employment lawyer Shilpen Savani outlines some of the potential pitfalls facing employers bringing workers back to the workplace, from safe conditions to redundancy consultations. 

10.30am Unions say inadequate protection for taxi drivers is ‘unforgivable’ 

Drivers, taxi firms and industry bodies have said national safety guidance for taxi drivers is urgently needed, as figures show the profession has the highest rate of Covid-19 deaths. 

Currently, Scotland is the only part of the UK where it is mandatory for passengers to wear masks. Many firms are providing PPE and sanitiser but some drivers are having to foot the bill, while struggling financially. 

James Farrar, from the App Drivers and Couriers Union, said it was "unforgivable" drivers had been working for the last three months without suitable protection and advice, adding the government advice was “contradictory”.

9.40am One in 10 business premises permanently closed due to pandemic, survey finds

Almost one in 10 London businesses have permanently closed premises as a result of the pandemic, research by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has found. Of the 500 business leaders polled, 9 per cent have permanently closed physical premises during the lockdown. A further 13 per cent said their company was planning not to use an office once the lockdown was over, while more than a third (37 per cent) would allow staff to work from home more often. 

Richard Burge, chief executive of the LCCI, said Covid-19 had shown firms "that their business can truly operate remotely", but called on the government to "stay open to the need of targeted sector support". The LCCI research also found 28 per cent of London businesses have furloughed at least one member of their staff, and a fifth (20 per cent) said they planned to make cuts to their workforce as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

7.40am No date set for Welsh pubs reopening

Work is "ongoing" on when pubs can reopen but no date has been set, a Welsh government minister has told the BBC. Wales is the only UK nation without a planned reopening date for the pub trade. On Wednesday, the Scottish government announced beer gardens could reopen there from 6 July, and pubs and restaurants can fully reopen from 15 July. The hospitality sector is due to reopen in England from 4 July, while in Northern Ireland pubs and hotels can open on 3 July.

The Welsh government has promised a "rapid review" to consider a phased reopening.  Finance minister Rebecca Evans said discussions were taking place with the industry, but said timing could not be provided for when Welsh pubs will reopen "because it's very, very difficult to know where the coronavirus will be in the weeks and months ahead".

7.30am 70 per cent of BAME pharmacists have had no risk assessment, survey finds

Seven in 10 black, Asian and minority ethnic pharmacists have not had workplace risk assessments for coronavirus, according to a survey. The research, carried out by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the UK Black Pharmacists Association, surveyed 380 hospital- and community-based pharmacists, 236 of which were from a BAME background. Of those, 166 (70 per cent) said they had not been approached by their employer to have a risk assessment carried out for Covid-19. 

The RPS said the results were "shocking" and called on employers to take urgent action to ensure ethnic minority pharmacists are risk assessed. Sandra Gidley, president of the RPS, said it was essential that pharmacists were properly risk assessed: "Lessons are to be learned from this pandemic, especially with the risk of a second wave, and we now need action so our workforce is protected." 

7am Megabus to restart London services

Coach operator Megabus will be restarting some services from London as England's leisure and hospitality sector prepares to reopen. Megabus, which suspended operations in April due to the lockdown, said part of its network will run again on 3 July, a day before the UK government has said tourist attractions will be allowed to reopen.

Managing director Mark Venables said the company is "absolutely delighted" to be able to restart its services, but due to social distancing measures there will be reduced capacity on all buses. Megabus said enhanced cleaning and antibacterial stations on board will be part of its new service. 

Thursday 25 June

5.20pm Driving lessons to resume in England 

House of commons leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has confirmed driving lessons in England are to resume from 4 July, adding there will be a “phased approach” to resuming practical testing. The DVSA told the BBC that "more details will be provided in due course" on how instructors can resume work safely.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will set their own rules for resuming driving lessons and tests. 

5.10pm Rules relaxed to boost hospitality industry 

Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to turn pavements and car parks into outdoor areas in new proposals to boost the hospitality industry in England and Wales. 

The government’s business and planning bill will make it easier for pubs and restaurants in England and Wales to apply for pavement licences, so seating areas can be arranged outside of premises, ahead of reopening on 4 July. The temporary laws will see consultation periods for applications drop from 28 calendar days to five working days, with automatic consent granted if there is no council decision after 10 working days. The application fee will also be lowered to £100.

12.45pm Recruitment firms urge government to extend sick pay rebate scheme

Trade bodies for the UK’s recruitment industry have written to the financial secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman, calling for an expansion of the rebate scheme helping employers meet statutory sick pay (SSP) costs during the coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to Norman, bosses at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation, the Association of Labour Providers, the Association of Professional Staffing Companies and recruitment network Team have urged the government to extend the SSP rebate scheme to cover organisations with more than 250 staff.

Under the scheme, introduced to support businesses through the outbreak, businesses employing fewer than 250 people can claim back up to two weeks’ SSP for employees who have taken time off as a result of being ill with coronavirus. However, signatories to the letter argued recruitment and agency firms, which tended to retain a large number of staff, lacked the cashflow to pay for the high numbers of SSP claims they were exposed to. “Our largest members have agency worker payrolls running into the tens of thousands, dwarfing their direct employee numbers,” the letter said.

12.20pm Two-fifths of Brits now travelling to work, official figures show

More than two-fifths of the UK adult working population are travelling to work, official figures have shown, as the country begins to emerge from lockdown. Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found 44 per cent of working adults in Britain travelled to their place of work at least once in the last seven days – up from 41 per cent the previous week. At the same time, the percentage of staff working exclusively from home dropped from 38 per cent to 33 per cent last week, which the ONS said marked a shift away from remote working.

The figures, released today (25 June), followed the announcement of the largest relaxation of social distancing rules since the lockdown began. As well as confirming the majority of businesses could reopen on 4 July, prime minister Boris Johnson has said that where it was not possible to implement the two-metre distancing rule companies would be allowed to reduce this to at least one metre.

11.45am How employers can deal with heatwaves during lockdown

With so many people working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic, Simon Robinson outlines businesses’ responsibilities around working in hot weather.

11.40am Maintaining diversity during an economic crisis

As Lorna Fitzsimons explains, firms need to avoid thoughtless restructures during difficult times and preserve the minorities in their workforces.

8.45am Qantas to cut 6,000 jobs

Airline Qantas is to cut around a fifth of its workforce, citing the collapse in global air travel as a result of the coronavirus pandemic devastating revenues. In March, it furloughed more than 80 per cent of its staff, with chief executive Alan Joyce saying the airline, Australia’s national carrier, would extend furlough for about 15,000 workers – around half of its workforce – as it waited “for the recovery we know is coming". "The actions we must take will have a huge impact on thousands of our people," Joyce said in a statement. "But the collapse in billions of dollars in revenue leaves us little choice if we are to save as many jobs as possible, long term."

8.30am Royal Mail to axe 2,000 management jobs

Royal Mail is to cut 2,000 management jobs, about a fifth of its managers, as it struggles to deal with the effects of the coronavirus crisis. The company said the outbreak had accelerated the trends of more parcels and fewer letters being sent, and that it had not adapted quickly enough to that change in the market. The job losses will mainly affect back-office roles, including finance, commercial and IT, and the most senior roles. Frontline postal staff were unlikely to be affected because Royal Mail needed to preserve "quality of service", a spokesman said.

Wednesday 24 June

4.40pm Cineworld staff launch petition to require customers to wear face masks

Staff at cinema chain Cineworld have launched a petition calling for visitors to be required to wear face coverings when venues reopen on 10 July. The petition was created by the Cineworld Action Group, a group of UK employees that also campaigned for fairer pay during the coronavirus pandemic. The petition suggests that, as a minimum, customers should be required to wear masks in “high-traffic areas” such as foyers, concession stands and corridors. 

According to the group, staff only learned of the company’s plans to require all employees (but not customers) to wear face masks via an interview given by the organisation’s CEO, Mooky Greidinger, in The Hollywood Reporter. In the interview, in which he was asked about the company’s operations in both the US and the UK, Greidinger said teams “will be wearing masks as long as it’s a requirement from the government”. Currently, the UK government has mandated the use of face coverings on public transport, but only advises wearing one in other enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. The petition states Cineworld staff are still awaiting clarification on all precautions from the company’s initial announcement. 

2.45pm Scottish pubs and restaurants allowed to reopen from 15 July

Pubs and restaurants in Scotland will be able to reopen from 15 July, first minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced. Beer gardens will be allowed to reopen from Monday 6 July, and from 10 July people in Scotland will be able to meet indoors with up to two other households. Hairdressers and holiday accommodation will also be able to reopen from the 15th. 

This means many hospitality businesses will reopen in Scotland almost two weeks after they are allowed to do so in England. The latest Scottish lockdown easings will not apply to those who are shielding, who have been told they should await further advice before the end of July. Sturgeon also said the two-metre social distancing rule would continue to apply in Scotland, unlike in England, where a ‘one metre plus’ rule will be adopted from July. 

1.30pm What do the government’s new reopening guidelines mean for employers?

Following yesterday’s announcement that more businesses can reopen with ‘one metre plus’ social distancing, People Management explores the practicalities

12.25pm Recruitment firms urge government to extend statutory sick pay rebate scheme

Trade bodies for the UK’s recruitment industry have written to the financial secretary to the Treasury, Jesse Norman MP, calling for an expansion of the rebate scheme helping employers meet statutory sick pay (SSP) payments during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The government currently refunds employers with fewer than 250 staff 14 days worth of SSP where the illness is Covid-19 related. However, the letter, signed by the bosses of organisations including the Recruitment & Employment Confederation and the Association of Labour Providers, calls for this scheme be extended to all employers. The signatories say recruitment firms, which retain large numbers of agency staff, “simply do not have the cashflow to finance high numbers of SSP payments”, highlighting additional concerns about “the impact of self-isolation, in particular ‘test and trace’ absences, in the coming months into winter and beyond”.

11.55am Aviation company could halve UK workforce

Airport ground handling company Swissport isis consulting on cutting more than 4,500 UK jobs, as the coronavirus crisis continues to hit the air travel industry. The baggage and cargo handling firm, which employs around 8,500 staff and operates at UK airports including Heathrow and Gatwick, said its revenue is forecast to shrink by almost half this year, and it would have to reduce its workforce in order to survive. It is consulting on cutting up to 4,556 jobs, according to the GMB union. 

The company’s chief executive, Jason Holt, said in a message to staff that action had to be taken to protect the organisation’s funding, and to protect as many jobs as possible in the UK and Ireland. “It's true that we've seen tough times before – volcanic cloud, 9/11, the financial crisis – and we've weathered these. But this time it's different. We have never seen anything like Covid-19 in our lifetimes,” he said. “There is no escaping the fact that the industry is now smaller than it was, and it will remain so for some time to come."

10.45am Coronavirus crisis could worsen income inequality, experts warn

The coronavirus pandemic could magnify the gap between the highest and lowest earners in the UK, a financial services company has suggested. With employees who are able to work from home (and therefore less likely to be furloughed or made redundant during lockdown) likely to earn more than those who cannot, Hargreaves Lansdown has said the crisis could spur a further widening of the gap between the richest and the poorest. “Even before the virus struck the gap was widening, and the crisis will have stretched it even further,” said Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. 

Earlier this week, research from the Resolution Foundation found that lower-income households were twice as likely as richer ones to have increased their debts during the crisis, while higher-income households were able to build up savings, as there has been no opportunity to take holidays abroad or go out to eat. 

9.35am Leisure organisations criticise order to remain shut as pubs reopen

Sports and leisure organisations have challenged the government’s decision to reopen businesses such as pubs, hairdressers and cinemas from 4 July, while sports facilities and swimming pools have been ordered to remain shut. 

In a statement, health club chain PureGym said while it understood difficult decisions had to be made, “it is a strange ‘war on obesity’ that sees pubs and restaurants open before gyms”. Jane Nickerson, chief executive of Swim England, also questioned the latest lockdown easing rules. “It appears that it is OK to sit on the couch watching professional sport, go out for a high-calorie meal and then go to the pub but you can’t go for a swim, which provides a sanitised environment,” she said. 

Boris Johnson expressed regret that not all sporting and leisure venues could reopen, but said current plans were “as far as we can go for now”. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said there was an aspiration for gyms and leisure centres to reopen in mid-July, subject to the agreement of public health authorities.

Tuesday 23 June

3.55pm More pressure should be put on employers to publish Covid risk assessments, union says

The government needs to “crank up” pressure on employers to publish their risk assessments as more staff return to work, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) has warned. 

Government guidance states that organisations with more than 50 employees should publish their risk assessments. However, according to the TUC, many employers with staff back at work are yet to do so. Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said it was important for the government to “crank up the pressure on employers to publish their risk assessments, so that people have the confidence that it is safe to return to work”, adding that this measure was “particularly important for vulnerable and shielded workers”. 

She also suggested the law be changed to make it illegal not to publish Covid risk assessments, saying voluntary publication was not enough: “Those who fail to keep their workers safe must be fined – and, if necessary, shut down.”

2.55pm Shoe Zone to close 20 branches as a result of ‘unprecedented impact’ of Covid-19

Leicester-based retailer Shoe Zone has announced that 20 of its stores will permanently close, and jobs will be cut in its head office following more than two months of lockdown. 

Before retailers were obliged to close in March, Shoe Zone was already in danger of closing up to 100 of its shops if business rates were not changed. It now says 470 of its 490 branches are set to reopen by the end of the month. Chief executive Anthony Smith said the coronavirus pandemic would continue to have an "unprecedented impact" on the UK economy and retail industry for several years.

1.30pm Employees shielding from coronavirus to return to work in August

Employers should show employees that their health and safety is of “paramount importance”, experts have warned, as those who have been shielding are set to return to work from 1 August.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said the shielding scheme – designed to protect those at the highest risk from coronavirus – would begin to wind down from next month, with shielders able to leave their homes to socialise in groups of up to six people from July. At the end of July, food and support packages available to those who have been unable to leave home during lockdown will stop, and employers will no longer be able to claim statutory sick pay for staff members who are shielding.

Paul Holcroft, associate director at Croner, said communication was crucial for employers to ensure any staff who had been shielding felt safe returning to work.

1pm Pubs, restaurants and hotels can reopen from 4 July

In a lunchtime statement to the House of Commons today, prime minister Boris Johnson announced that hospitality businesses including pubs, restaurants and hotels will be allowed to reopen both indoors and outdoors subject to their introducing safety guidelines, including online table service. 

Hair salons and barbers are also permitted to reopen from the same date, with protective visors to be worn by staff. 

Johnson has also changed the two-metre social distancing rules to a ‘one metre plus’ requirement when two metres isn’t possible, caveating the changes by pointing out that "each step will be conditional and reversible". 

12pm Why Covid-19 has been good for introverts

Zoom and Team meetings have drawbacks, but they can be used to give less vocal employees the chance to shine, says communication specialist Shola Kaye

10.15am One in six car industry jobs at risk, trade body warns

The UK’s car industry trade body has said one in six motor manufacturing jobs could be lost without extra government support to restart the sector. 

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said emergency funding, as well as business rates holidays, VAT cuts and permanent short-time working, were all needed to avoid major job losses. “A third of our workforce remains furloughed, and we want those staff coming back to work, not into redundancy," said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.

Monday 22 June

5pm Hospital staff told whistleblowers would be ‘found and fired’ after Covid-19 memo leak

Campaigners have voiced concerns about a “culture of fear” in the NHS, after an email from a consultant at the Royal Free Hospital in London to a number of staff suggested those responsible for information leaks to the media would be found and fired. 

Dr Daniel Martin OBE, head of intensive care for serious infectious diseases at the Royal Free, emailed dozens of nurses and junior doctors two weeks after an internal memo written by him at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, describing equipment shortages and fears about capacity in ICUs, was shared publicly on social media. The email included a note suggesting the trust would “track any leaks to the media” and then “offer you the chance to post your p45 on Facebook for all to see”. Dr Jenny Vaughan, law and policy officer at Doctors Association UK, described the language used by Martin as “toxic”, and said “when things go wrong we have to make sure lessons are learned, and we have to feel able to speak up”.  

The Royal Free London trust said the email was “badly worded” and did not reflect trust policy, adding it was an open and transparent organisation that “does everything it can to encourage our staff to raise concerns and, if necessary, whistleblow”.

2.50pm Call for new jobs 'guarantee' for young people in Scotland

A group advising Scottish ministers on how to repair the economic crisis caused by coronavirus has called for a jobs guarantee for 16 to 25-year-olds. The panel, which is led by former Tesco Bank boss Benny Higgins, has published a list of recommendations for economic recovery in Scotland, calling for a nationwide scheme to offer at least two years of "secure employment" to young people. 

The report also calls for a "significant increase" in infrastructure investment and targeted measures to support the hospitality and tourism sectors. The Scottish government said it would "develop a detailed response to the report, which will be published before the end of July". First minister Nicola Sturgeon said the jobs guarantee proposal was "potentially very significant as we seek to ensure young people get the opportunities they deserve".

1.40pm Leaked video sparks Pret a Manger job cut fears

A leaked video on social media revealing how sales have plunged at café chain Pret a Manger during the coronavirus crisis has raised fears about job cuts, according to a report by the BBC. In May, the chain called in consultants to help renegotiate its rents to avoid store closures, and said it was putting a "clear plan" in place to deal with reduced footfall, which could involve job cuts. 

In a video to staff that was leaked on Twitter, Pano Christou, chief executive of Pret, said an announcement on the "job situation" would be made in the coming weeks: "What will be the case is, on the 8 July, we'll be doing a broader communication to the teams, just talking through the initial work that's been done on this, so things will start to become clearer from 8 July." He added that Pret's global weekly takings had fallen to £3m, about 15 per cent of what they would normally be during this time. A Pret spokeswoman told the BBC that staff would be the "first to hear about any changes" in the business.

12.30pm JD Sports' Go Outdoors brand likely to enter administration in days

JD Sports is expected to appoint administrators for its Go Outdoors brand, putting thousands of jobs at risk. The brand, which specialises in fishing, cycling and camping gear, has 67 stores across the UK and employs approximately 2,300 workers. On Friday (20 June), JD Sports filed a notice of intention to appoint administrators for the business, and it is understood that Deloitte is likely to lead a restructuring of the company. 

Go Outdoors closed all its stores during April because of the coronavirus lockdown but began to reopen them from early May. However, bosses said the continued restrictions on outdoor activities and campsite closures had impacted on the brand's sales. 

11.50am How to leave lockdown safely… and strategically

The world has changed since the start of the outbreak, says Matt Hamnett. So wellbeing is paramount in returning people to work, but firms must also make conscious strategic decisions.

11.30am How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Skanska UK

Harvey Francis, chief HR officer and executive vice president of Skanska UK, shares how the construction firm played a key role in developing sector guidelines and has implemented measures such as one-way systems and staggered start times at its sites.

11.10am Titanic Belfast in discussions with staff as 75 jobs face cut

Workers at popular tourist attraction Titanic Belfast are to meet management later today for emergency talks on the site's plans to make up to 75 employees redundant. The plans were announced last week by chief executive Judith Owens in a statement to everyone on the payroll, saying the 75 roles would be lost from various departments across the organisation. Staff sources told the Belfast Telegraph that casual workers on zero-hours contracts would also be affected by the job cuts and that the total number of people whose jobs could be axed might be closer to between 150 and 200. 

Titanic Belfast closed on 18 March after lockdown measures were imposed, and bosses said it was due to reopen in August. Bosses said the job cuts came as physical distancing, lack of travel opportunities to Northern Ireland and customers' nervousness to return to the site contributed to a 30 per cent drop in annual footfall in comparison to last year. 

9.20am Prime minister to announce if pubs and restaurants can reopen

Prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce on Tuesday (23 June) whether the hospitality sector can reopen on 4 July and if the two-metre distancing rule in England can be relaxed. Non-essential shops have already reopened across the UK, with retail activity resuming in Wales today, and health secretary Matt Hancock said England was "clearly on track" to further ease lockdown restrictions. However, the government warned the moves would be reversed if they led to a surge in coronavirus infections. 

Johnson will discuss England's approach to the changes with the Covid-19 Strategy Committee in a meeting today, and will update parliament on the next stage of lockdown easing tomorrow. This is expected to include a review of the two-metre social distancing rule and whether pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers can reopen in July. 

8.50am Non-essential shops reopen in Wales

Non-essential stores in Wales are able to reopen today (22 June) for the first time since coronavirus restrictions were brought in. The Welsh Retail Consortium (WRC) said many shops were in a "fight for survival" as sales plummeted during lockdown. Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, Sara Jones, head of the WRC, said Covid restrictions had cost non-food stores £1.7bn a week during April and May, and with sales "expected to remain weak" many would not reopen their doors. She added safety was "the priority" for stores about to reopen and that businesses had been working hard to achieve this.

Friday 19 June

4.55pm Why distance learning holds the key for business survival during Covid-19

Organisations need to bolster their employees’ skills to prepare for future challenges, says Simon Tindall, head of skills and innovation at the Open University. 

3.50pm Vicarious liability during coronavirus

Can businesses be responsible for their employees’ actions when a large proportion of the workforce is working from home? Raoul Parekh and Deborah Margolis at GQ Littler report in light of a recent case. 

2.45pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? …London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

With many employees’ priorities turned upside down by the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisation’s HR director, Kessar Kalim, explains how the university put bureaucracy on the back burner

11.10am Pub boss commits to opening on 4 July in absence of government plans

The founder of pub chain Oakman Inns, which runs 28 pubs across the Home Counties, has said all the company’s venues will be opening for business on 4 July. In a tweet, Peter Borg-Neal said “we cannot wait for the government to make a decision”, and it would be irresponsible for the company to delay opening as to do so would be “putting jobs at risk”. 

The government has said previously that it hoped for hospitality businesses to be able to reopen on 4 July, however it has not yet given a definitive date. “We need to plan ahead, get staff off furlough, remove furniture, install handwashing stations, change layouts in pubs," Borg-Neal told the BBC. "You can't just give us a couple of days' notice and expect us to open safely.” According to Oakman Inns, the government is yet to respond to its announcement. “We can hang around and definitely go bust, or open and see if they destroy us," Borg-Neal said.

10am 50,000 disabled self-employed workers not getting enough government support

Research from the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) has found more than 50,000 disabled people who became self-employed last year are not getting the support they need from the government during the coronavirus crisis. The study shows disabled self-employed people are also more likely to need financial support as their usual day rate is 12 per cent lower than those who do not report having a disability.

Inna Yordanova, senior researcher at IPSE, said: “This research vividly shows the cost of the gaps in the government support. Many people who are missing out on government financial support are those who are likely to need it most.

“Making up about 14 per cent of the self-employed workforce, disabled people are a huge and important part of the freelancing community, who must not be overlooked in the coronavirus crisis.” 

9.45am Number of unemployed people per job vacancy increases fivefold since coronavirus crisis began

In ex-industrial and inner city areas, there is an average of 20 people claiming unemployment benefits for every job vacancy, analysis from the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) has found – five times the number before the coronavirus crisis began. In 11 UK local authorities, the research suggests the number of unemployed people per vacancy is over 50. 

According to the research, there are 84 unemployed workers per job vacancy in Broxtowe in the East Midlands, an increase of 71 people per vacancy since March this year. Rhondda Cynon Taff in South Wales, the London Borough of Brent and Tameside are also among the areas worst affected. However, the research also found the number of unemployed people per vacancy to be significantly lower in more affluent areas of the country, with Kensington and Chelsea, Chichester and Warwick among the areas with fewer than three unemployed people for each job vacancy.

“There are tentative signs that hiring may now be starting to pick up as businesses start to reopen, but these are very early signs,” said Tony Wilson, director of the IES. “New vacancies are still at barely a third of the levels they were a year ago, and there’s a lot of people working fewer hours than they’d want, or wondering if they will have jobs to go back to after furlough.”

Thursday 18 June

5.30pm Working from home likely to be around for ‘a long time’ following pandemic, Hancock says

Health secretary Matt Hancock has said the practice of working from home is likely to “stay with us a long time” at today’s government press briefing. 

Asked if the government will be making remote working easier for employees following the coronavirus crisis, Hancock said that many people have been made aware of the opportunity technology affords us to work from home during lockdown. He said employers should make the practice available where possible and said he would be discussing the topic with the business department. 

5.20pm Non-essential shops in Wales could reopen from Monday

The Welsh first minister, Mark Drakeford, is expected to announce that non-essential retailers in Wales will be able to reopen for business from Monday (June 22), one week after they were allowed to trade again in England. 

However, he is expected to emphasise the importance of maintaining two-metre social distancing, with the Welsh health minister today highlighting that he did not want to see “crowds bunched together outside shops”. 

3.30pm Meat plant closed following coronavirus outbreak

A chicken processing plant on Anglesey has closed as 51 workers at the site have contracted coronavirus. The plant, which is part of one of the largest food producers in the UK, 2 Sisters Food Group, supplies meat to KFC, and Marks & Spencer. The company said it would temporarily suspend production at the site in Llangefni for two weeks to “clearly demonstrate how seriously we take this issue”. 

More than 200 people are said to be self-isolating following the outbreak at the plant, which employs 560 people. Paddy McNaught, regional organiser for the union Unite, said that while 2 Sisters had worked with unions to ensure a safe working environment, production line work at the plant meant adhering to the two-metre social distancing rule had been "virtually impossible". 

2.30pm Shops and some workplaces in Scotland to reopen from 29 June

Most shops in Scotland can reopen from 29 June as part of a further easing of the country's lockdown rules, the Scottish government has announced. Many indoor workplaces such as factories, laboratories and warehouses will also start to reopen from 29 June, subject to strict physical distancing and hygiene rules. The changes will also see face coverings to be made compulsory for everyone using public transport – including taxis. But no decision has yet been made on when pubs, restaurants or beer gardens will be able to reopen in Scotland.

The announcement by first minister Nicola Sturgeon means the country has now moved to the second phase of its four-phase ‘route map’ aimed at ending the lockdown while continuing to suppress the virus. The other changes include dentists being allowed to reopen for urgent care from Monday (22 June), professional sport to resume behind closed doors and places of worship to reopen for individual prayer. 

2.10pm How should employers approach redundancies over the coming months?

Many companies across a variety of sectors are struggling to survive as the third month of lockdown measures continues. With a recession looming, and the UK forecast by the OECD to suffer the biggest economic hit from coronavirus of all developed countries, it’s already apparent that many employers will simply not be able to go back to normal once the furlough scheme concludes, or even once the pandemic has subsided.

However, unprecedented times are no excuse for poor practice. And how firms conduct redundancies will be closely scrutinised over the coming months – as British Airways discovered recently after being branded a ‘national disgrace’ by the transport select committee for its approach to restructuring. As many industries face bleak times and need to consider reducing their workforces, how can they approach this correctly and fairly? People Management asked the experts for guidance on some key questions.

1.30pm Third of employees asked to work while furloughed, survey finds

Some businesses are asking furloughed workers to work, despite this being in direct contravention of the job retention scheme’s rules, research has found – with one expert calling this a “blatant abuse of the system”. A poll of 2,000 furloughed employees across the UK found 34 per cent had been asked by their employer to commit furlough fraud by carrying out their normal duties despite their employers claiming from the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme. A further 18 per cent said they had been asked to work for another company linked to their employer, and a similar number (19 per cent) were asked to cover someone else’s job within their organisation.

Beverley Sunderland, managing director at Crossland Employment Solicitors, warned that furlough fraud was a serious offence, and employers caught abusing the system could face hefty fines, be asked to pay funding back, have any future payments withheld or even potentially face prison. Asking employees to work when on furlough is a “blatant abuse of the system and puts the employee in a very difficult position”, she added. 

12.10pm What happens if employees refuse to return to work?

Mark Lello and Molly Dilling explore employers’ rights when staff are reluctant to go back to the workplace because of fears surrounding Covid-19.

12pm Why staff volunteering is more vital now than ever

While charities are facing increased demand, their funding is taking a hit. Businesses can provide the answer in a way that’s mutually beneficial, say Steve Butterworth and Chris Hillman.

11.40am Fifth of UK businesses still trading haven't applied for government support

Only 19 per cent of UK businesses still trading have not applied for help from any of the government coronavirus schemes available, an Office for National Statistics (ONS) report on coronavirus and its economic impact reveals. Of the 7,245 UK businesses that responded to the ONS survey, 84 per cent reported they were continuing to trade, while 16 per cent reported they had temporarily closed or paused trading. 

The ONS found 30 per cent of the workforce for businesses that had not permanently stopped trade had been furloughed. The accommodation and food service sector and the arts, entertainment and recreation sector had the highest proportions of furloughed workers, at 80 per cent and 78 per cent respectively. Of those companies with a proportion of their workforce furloughed, 42 per cent reported providing top-ups to the government's subsidised payment to furloughed workers.

8.30am Kingfisher to recruit more than 3,000 staff

Kingfisher, owner of DIY retailer B&Q and hardware chain Screwfix, has said it would be taking on 3,000 to 4,000 workers, about half of whom would be working in the UK, after a rise in online sales because of the coronavirus outbreak. The company said online sales increased more than 200 per cent in April and May during the height of lockdown. 

Thierry Garnier, chief executive of Kingfisher, said new staff would work in those stores being used to process online orders. He said demand for DIY goods had surged while people had been stuck at home during the lockdown, but admitted trade may slow as the economic downturn hits jobs. He added: “These are temporary roles across the summer, but we will continue to watch what happens."

7.40am DPD to hire thousands amid online shopping boom

Delivery firm DPD is recruiting thousands of staff – including 3,500 drivers and 2,500 support staff, such as mechanics and parcel sorters – to help meet a surge in demand for goods bought online because of coronavirus lockdown restrictions. DPD boss Dwain McDonald described the lockdown period as the "biggest boom in online retailing" the UK had ever seen. He said: "Since this began, we have been handling parcel volumes more akin to the festive seasonal peak than this time of year."

Wednesday 17 June

3.25pm More than 400,000 creative industries jobs could be lost in 2020, report warns

As many as 406,000 jobs in the UK’s culture sector could be lost in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus crisis, a report by the Creative Industries Federation and Oxford Economics has predicted. The report predicts a “cultural catastrophe”, with creative businesses in the country set to lose £74bn this year. 

According to the research, 5 per cent of jobs in museums, libraries and public galleries could be lost, with many of the 4,000 people hit being self-employed. It also warned 178,000 jobs could be lost in the music, performance and visual arts industry. Caroline Norbury, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, said without government intervention the effect on the nation would be “devastating and irreversible” and called for a “cultural renewal fund for those in the creative sector who will be hit hardest”.

2pm HSBC to continue planned job cuts

HSBC is to resume its plans to cut 35,000 jobs. In April, the bank had said it would hold fire on the redundancies, explaining that it did not want to leave staff unable to find work elsewhere during the coronavirus outbreak. However, Noel Quinn, the bank's new chief executive, told HSBC's 235,000 staff around the globe that it now would go through with the cuts.

HSBC had originally announced the plan in February as part of a restructuring programme aimed to save £3.6bn in cost cuts by 2022, but put it on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic. As it plans to go through with the restructure, HSBC said it would try to find internal jobs for those affected but that redundancies were likely.

1.50pm BBC announces voluntary redundancy scheme as part of bid to save £125m 

The BBC has announced a voluntary redundancy scheme to make £125m of savings this financial year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and changes to the licence fee. In a note to staff posted on the broadcaster’s internal network seen by Yahoo News UK, director general Lord Tony Hall said the BBC was already facing financial pressures caused by the government’s decision to stop funding licence fees for people aged over 75 before the crisis. Hall added that the coronavirus outbreak had caused additional financial pressures on the organisation. 

He said the BBC now had 24 per cent less to spend on its UK public services and said all employees in their public services branch were to be given the chance to take voluntary redundancy. He said: “We know hard choices are necessary. More than a third of our costs – across the BBC – relate to our people. That’s why we’re introducing this voluntary redundancy programme.”

1.25pm HMRC seeks powers to investigate furlough fraud

Employers that think they may have accidentally misused the furlough scheme could be given a 30-day amnesty to admit their mistake under a draft bill to tackle furlough fraud, which is currently being fast tracked through parliament.

The draft legislation will give HMRC the power to check grants made to employees through the job retention scheme, and reclaim through income tax assessments any furlough money overpaid to employers or not spent on wages as intended. Any organisation caught deliberately using furlough money for anything other than its intended purpose – so-called furlough fraud – would face a financial penalty. The legislation, which is part of the finance bill 2020, could be passed as early as July.

12.30pm Employers’ crucial role in tackling domestic violence during Covid-19

For victims of abuse, continuing to work from home is a terrifying prospect. Firms must take action to protect vulnerable staff, says Elizabeth Filkin, chair of the Employers’ Initiative on Domestic Abuse. 

12.25pm Updates to holiday entitlement and pay legislation

Verity Buckingham, senior associate at Dentons, provides new details on how businesses should handle employees’ annual leave during the coronavirus pandemic. 

10.50am Half of businesses could cut jobs after furlough scheme ends

More than half of UK businesses are considering making redundancies after the furlough scheme winds up, a survey by YouGov has found. Of the 500 employers polled, 51 per cent said they intended to make job cuts within three months of the job retention scheme’s conclusion. A fifth (21 per cent) of respondents said that a third of their workforce could be at risk, while almost a third (31 per cent) said a fifth of their staff could face job losses. Just over a third of businesses (34 per cent) predicted all their staff would be kept on following the scheme’s closure. 

10am BAME doctors more likely to have felt pressured to work without appropriate PPE

Doctors with black and other minority ethnic backgrounds are three times as likely to report having felt pressured to carry out their jobs without sufficient protective equipment, the chair of the British Medical Association has told the BBC. 

Dr Chaand Nagpaul said more than 90 per cent of doctors who had died during the pandemic had BAME backgrounds. He spoke as a report was released yesterday (16 June) highlighting the increased risk from coronavirus faced by non-white people. According to the Public Health England report, black and Asian people were less likely to seek care when they needed it or speak up if they had concerns about risk in the workplace, as a result of  "historic racism and poorer experiences of healthcare or at work". The report recommends developing “risk assessment tools that can be employed in a variety of occupational settings and used to reduce the risk of employees’ exposure to and acquisition of Covid-19”. It said these tools were especially important for BAME workers in frontline health and social care roles. 

Tuesday 16 June

4.25pm More than 250 Poundstretcher branches at risk of closure

Discount store chain Poundstretcher could close more than half its 450 shops if rent discounts or holidays cannot be agreed with landlords, the company has said. 

Poundstretcher is currently undergoing an insolvency process known as a company voluntary arrangement, under which 253 branches could cease trading, “depend[ing] on the commercial merits of each store with the relevant landlords' collaboration”, said KPMG, which is overseeing the insolvency process. Poundstretcher currently employs 5,500 people. 

2.20pm Scotland's unemployment rate highest in UK

Scotland's unemployment rate is now the highest among all the UK nations, according to figures by the Office for National Statistics. The analysis found unemployment in Scotland for people over 16 was 4.6 per cent, compared to the UK average of 3.9 per cent. The latest figures – which only capture the first five weeks of lockdown – show England's unemployment rate now stands at 3.9 per cent, Wales is at 3 per cent and Northern Ireland is at 2.3 per cent.

Jamie Hepburn, business, fair work and skills minister for Scotland, said the figures showed the "scale of the challenge facing Scotland" as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. He added: "Keeping people in work while supporting those who have lost their jobs will continue to be at the heart of our thinking as we carefully reopen the economy." He also urged the UK government to ensure its support schemes reflected what was needed in Scotland.

2pm Zoos consider making more than 100 redundancies

Zoo bosses are considering making more than 100 roles redundant to ensure the future of attractions in Paignton and Newquay after the closure of a zoo in Devon was announced earlier this week. The Wild Planet Trust said on Monday (15 June) that falling visitor numbers at Living Coasts in Torquay as a result of Covid-19 meant it would not reopen as a visitor attraction. The trust said it was now having to review workings at its other two sites because, although English zoos can reopen, strict social distancing rules meant daily visitor numbers would have to be restricted.

Simon Tonge, director of the Wild Planet Trust, said "tough decisions" would need to be made, and the zoos are looking at a variety of cost-cutting measures including a freeze on all capital work, cutting back on non-essential expenditure and possible job cuts. Tonge added: "Unfortunately, as wage costs account for more than 50 per cent of operating costs, making posts redundant is something we are, regrettably, having to consider."

1.35pm Think tank calls on government to take action against Ladbrokes shares payout 

Ladbrokes Coral Group has awarded chief executive Kenny Alexander shares worth £3.3m, alongside giving chief financial officer Rob Wood shares worth £1.4m. 

Parent company GVC furloughed all of its 14,000 staff across Ladbrokes and Coral shops in March and topped up government funding to give workers a full wage. However, Yahoo Finance reported it has saved £20m a month as a result of business relief rates. 

Andrew Speke, spokesman for think tank High Pay Centre, condemned the payout on This is Money, and called on the government to take action. "Perhaps now is the time for government to make it clear that it will not tolerate such behaviour from companies using the scheme," he said. 

1pm Making flexibility work in the ‘new normal’

We’re three months into the world’s first working from home experiment, says Alice ter Haar. So how can employers harness what they’ve learned during Covid-19?

12.50pm How can businesses protect BAME employees returning to work?

With figures showing ethnic minority groups are at a greater risk of dying from coronavirus than the white population, Paida Dube explains what employers can do to safeguard staff.

11am Greggs to reopen 800 branches from Thursday

Bakery chain Greggs has announced it will reopen 800 of its stores for takeaway from Thursday, and said the remainder of its 2,050 shops will reopen from July. 

The chain recently ran a trial, with 20 shops in the Newcastle area opening back in May. To reopen safely, Greggs has said protective screens will be in place at shop counters, additional cleaning will be carried out and staff will be provided with personal protective equipment. In addition, there will be markers to ensure customers remain two metres apart. Greggs chief executive Roger Whiteside said: "Looking forward, although great uncertainty remains, we are excited to be resuming our service for many customers this week”. 

10am Restaurant sector faces major job cuts, PM warned

The bosses of food chains including Pizza Hut and Wagamama have told the prime minister that without further help the sector will face mass job cuts. 

In a letter to Boris Johnson, signed by 90 businesses in the hospitality industry, which represent more than 1,000 establishments across the UK, the firms called for “swift action” to avert “grave damage” to the sector. A major problem, according to the letter organised by food delivery company Deliveroo, was the two metre distancing rule. If it is kept in place when restaurants reopen, the letter said, businesses would need extra support on tax and rents in order to manage. “Without government support to help restaurants to generate revenue and cover costs, tens of thousands of restaurants may be forced to permanently close their doors in the coming months,” it warned. 

9.45am Job vacancies see biggest quarterly drop on record

There were an estimated 342,000 fewer job vacancies in the UK between March and May this year than in the previous quarter, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics. This is the biggest quarterly fall in job vacancies on record. 

The ONS also reported a relatively stable employment rate for the three months to May 2020, of 76.4 per cent. This is down just 0.1 per cent on the previous quarter. However, the number of people temporarily away from work, including furloughed workers, rose by six million at the end of March into April, while the number of hours worked in the country dropped by a record 94.2 million compared to the same time last year.  

Gerwyn Davies, senior labour market adviser at the CIPD, said the figures signalled “a major employment crisis” in the UK, and highlighted a need for “more policy interventions that are targeted at both helping young unemployed people into work and supporting individuals to upskill and reskill”.

Monday 15 June

5.25pm Employers should protect ‘as many jobs as possible’

Dominic Raab has said it is incumbent on employers to protect as many jobs as possible during the coronavirus crisis, to support families and help the UK’s economic recovery. Speaking during today’s daily government briefing, the foreign secretary stopped short of condemning the actions of airline British Airways, described by a recent transport committee report as a “national disgrace” for its decision to cut 12,000 jobs and change the contract terms of a further 35,000 employees during the pandemic. Raab said it was up to businesses to decide how they should “navigate this difficult time”. 

4pm Ikea set to pay back furlough subsidies to world governments

Swedish furniture chain Ikea has said it plans to repay governments around the world for employee wage subsidies paid through furlough schemes, including in the US and Ireland. Ikea furloughed 10,000 workers in the UK, but did not claim their wages back through the job retention scheme. However, other firms such as Games Workshop and The Spectator magazine, which did make use of the UK scheme, have said they will repay the government for the wages claimed. 

2pm Travis Perkins to cut 2,500 jobs

The UK's biggest builders' merchant, Travis Perkins, has announced plans to cut about 2,500 jobs. The group said it expected a UK recession to hit demand for building materials this year and in 2021. As a result, Travis Perkins said it had started a consultation process with staff about 165 branch closures, which will affect about 8 per cent of its network. 

The firm said it would mainly be closing smaller branches of its Travis Perkins General Merchant brand. Nick Roberts, chief executive of Travis Perkins, said: "While we have experienced improving trends more recently, we do not expect a return to pre-Covid trading conditions for some time and consequently we have had to take the very difficult decision to begin consultations on the closure of selected branches."

12.40pm Review into two metre rule launched

Yesterday (14 June) the prime minister launched a review into the economic impact of the two metre social distancing rule, currently in force in all public places. Some businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector, have expressed concern about the prospect of reopening with the rule in place, as it makes it difficult for them to be economically viable with fewer customers able to come into their establishments. Pubs and restaurants are currently set to be allowed to open from 4 July. 

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said it was time for a “fresh look” at the social distancing guidance, and that “everyone would like to see it reduce from an economic perspective”. However, the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies is understood to hold the position that the number of known coronavirus cases in the UK is still too high to safely change the distancing rules.

11.20am BAE systems to hire 800 apprentices despite Covid-19

Defence company BAE systems has said it intends to continue with its plans to recruit 800 new apprentices, despite the impact the coronavirus outbreak has had on the economy. The firm said it received 9,000 applications in February and plans to use virtual interviews to select from the shortlisted candidates.

Charles Woodburn, chief executive, said the company was playing its part to support the government’s aim of getting young people back into work. “The contribution apprentices make to our business is vital in maintaining our ability to continue to deliver cutting-edge technologies that protect national security,” he said. “We’ve worked hard to adapt our application and training processes to allow education to continue, while protecting the health and wellbeing of our employees and new recruits.”

10.30am Male bankers escape coronavirus pay cuts

Men working in the financial services sector, including insurance and banking, are the only group of workers to have avoided coronavirus-related pay cuts, The Sunday Times has reported.

Research conducted by the New Economics Foundation for the paper found this group’s average weekly earnings remained flat between February, before the lockdown, and April. By contrast, women in the sector saw their pay drop by 5 per cent over the same period.

The report said other sectors had been hit much harder than banking and finance, with accommodation and food services suffering the most.

10am National airliner criticised by MPs for treatment of staff during outbreak

A parliamentary committee has branded the treatment of staff by British Airways (BA) as a “national disgrace”, accusing the firm of using the coronavirus outbreak as an excuse to make redundancies and change the terms and conditions for its employees. In a report, the Transport Committee acknowledged the aviation industry had been one of the sectors worst hit by the virus – noting in particular the damage that the new 14-day quarantine policy was likely to have.

“The impact of coronavirus may sadly mean that the loss of some jobs in the aviation sector is justified,” said Huw Merriman, Conservative MP and chair of the committee. But, he said, the behaviour of BA and its parent company, IAG, “falls well below the standards expected from any employer, especially in light of the scale of taxpayer subsidy, at this time of national crisis. It is unacceptable that a company would seek to drive this level of change under the cover of a pandemic.” 

BA has furloughed around 22,000 staff at a cost of £35m to the government, the committee said, but is still planning to make some 12,000 redundancies and introduce less favourable terms and conditions for the remaining 35,000 employees. Other companies in the sector, including Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, Ryanair, Rolls-Royce and Airbus, have also announced large-scale redundancies.

BA told the BBC it was doing all it could to keep the maximum number of jobs.

8.15am One million miss out on support schemes, MPs say

More than one million people have fallen through cracks in government schemes designed to support them during the coronavirus crisis, MPs have said. The Treasury select committee said more than a million people are suffering financial hardship as a result of unfortunate timing in starting a new job or their employer's choice of timing in submitting payroll paperwork to HMRC. The government launched the job retention scheme to subsidise the salaries of workers unable to do their job from home, but those who started a new job after the scheme's 28 February cut-off date are not covered by the scheme. Although this was later extended by three weeks, the committee said many had still been left behind.

The Treasury said the schemes protected millions of jobs and livelihoods, but the committee's interim report, which was unanimously agreed by members, said it was still not enough. The committee said: "The Treasury's interventions have been welcomed by many but rolling out financial support at pace and scale has inevitably resulted in some hard edges in policy design and some critical gaps in provision." 

7.45am Non-essential shops reopen after three months

Shops in England selling non-essential goods can reopen today for the first time in almost three months. Prime minister Boris Johnson has urged people to "shop with confidence". He said he was "very optimistic" about stores reopening – although acknowledged that retailers did not know whether there would be a "huge wave of customers" or a "trickle".

Although food shops, pharmacies, banks and other essential retailers have stayed open, the vast majority of high street shops have been closed since 23 March. These retailers have been required to introduce plastic screens at tills and floor markings to keep shoppers two metres apart – measures already a regular fixture in supermarkets. Other measures include pleas not to touch items unless customers intend to purchase them, decontaminating shopping baskets after each use, the closing of changing rooms in clothing stores and sanitiser on hand for customers.  

7.30am All foreign NHS staff 'should get free visa extension', say MPs

Free visa extensions should be given to all non-British NHS and social care workers who have been essential in working on the frontlines during the coronavirus pandemic, a group of MPs has said. A cross-party Commons Home Affairs Committee said it was "unfair" that some of the lowest-paid workers faced charges of thousands of pounds to stay in the country. The government has given a one-year free visa extension for some staff in the NHS and care sectors, which was initially limited to NHS doctors, nurses and paramedics, but in April it was extended to include more NHS staff, such as radiographers and social workers, plus some social care staff.

MPs have now called for all staff – including care workers, porters and cleaners – in the sector to be covered by the visa extension scheme. Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the committee, said the NHS and social care sector had relied on these workers, who are predominantly immigrants, to help during the coronavirus crisis. She said: "Excluding the care workers who hold dying residents' hands, the cleaners who scrub the door handles and floors of the Covid wards or the porters who take patients to intensive care is just wrong."

Friday 12 June

5.25pm Do ‘everything in your power’ to stop people going to work, government tells employers

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has told employers to do “everything in your power” to stop people going into work as the coronavirus crisis continues. 

As the government begins to ease certain lockdown measures and non-essential businesses begin to reopen, Shapps reiterated that people should continue to work from home where possible, and employers should be making the utmost effort to facilitate this. At the daily government coronavirus briefing, he added that transport presents a challenge when it comes to keeping Covid-19 infections down, but said a “gentle approach” would be taken at first when enforcing the wearing of face masks on public transport, which will be a requirement for all passengers from Monday. 

2.35pm Now is the time for L&D to go virtual

The coronavirus pandemic has forced employers to assess what skills they need and how learning is delivered, says Patricia McEvoy, talent development director for UK and Ireland at EY. 

2.30pm How has Covid-19 affected employee benefits?

In light of recent HMRC guidance, Graham Muir and Andrew Quayle, employee incentives advisers at CMS, explain how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted tax-favoured employee share plans

12.05pm Frontline workers to be screened regularly for coronavirus

Workers at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 are to be tested regularly for the virus to slow its spread, Baroness Dido Harding, executive chair of NHS Test and Trace, has confirmed. Routine testing of people in professions that involve a lot of contact with the public are being planned within weeks, Harding said at yesterday’s government briefing. “NHS Test and Trace needs to get better at targeting our testing in communities and professions where there are likely to be more people who have the disease but aren’t showing symptoms,” she said.

11.35am Uber makes face coverings mandatory in UK

The ride-hailing company Uber has announced that drivers and passengers in the UK will have to wear face coverings while using the service from Monday. Jamie Heywood, the company’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, said that as cities begin to reopen and more people are allowed to make trips, the organisation was “taking measures to help everyone stay safe and healthy every time they use Uber”.

The company also said measures had been taken to make sure all drivers working for Uber had access to necessary PPE for free.

10.15am Airlines mount legal challenge against travel quarantine rule

Airlines British Airways, Ryanair and Easyjet have filed a legal challenge against the government’s policy requiring anyone entering the UK from abroad to quarantine for 14 days. They have applied for a judicial review, asking the High Court to review the government’s rule, claiming that quarantine rules placed on travellers are more strict than those for people actually suffering from Covid-19.

They also claim the policy is not based on science, and argue there was no consultation period before implementation. The airlines said the quarantine policy would have "a devastating effect” on UK tourism and the economy, and would “destroy thousands of jobs". BA said in April that it planned to cut 12,000 of its 42,000-strong workforce, while Ryanair is making 3,000 workers redundant and Easyjet is cutting around 30 per cent of staff.

9.40am Non-essential shops reopen in Northern Ireland

All non-essential retailers can open as of today in Northern Ireland as lockdown measures have been partially lifted by the executive. The move to reopen came after retailers put pressure on Stormont ministers to allow more shops to open, as all high street shops began trading from Monday 8 June. Retailers also raised concerns that they would be at a financial disadvantage against competitors across the border. Speaking on Good Morning Britain, first minister Arlene Foster said: "We think that now is the right time to open all of retail and to allow people to come together outside in groups of 10.

9am Airbus warns UK jobs at higher risk than those in France and Germany

Airbus has warned its UK employees face “more permanent” job cuts than counterparts in France or Germany, which are both planning to maintain wage subsidy schemes for up to two years to offset the economic impact of the coronavirus. Guillaume Faury, chief executive of Airbus, was speaking to the Financial Times just days after France unveiled a €15bn package to support its aerospace industry and as the group prepared a wide-ranging restructuring to adapt to a collapse in demand from airline customers. He called on the UK to “recommit” to the future of its aerospace industry with a package of support measures and said he “regretted” the UK’s decision to set an October deadline to end the furlough scheme. In April, Airbus cut production by roughly a third, prompting a chain reaction of job losses at suppliers. 

8.30am HMRC figures show which sectors and areas are using furlough most 

The HMRC has produced a breakdown of precisely where and which employers are using the job retention scheme most. Shops and their suppliers are the biggest users of the scheme, claiming £3.3bn of £17.5bn total to furlough 1.6 million workers. Then it's hotels and restaurants, claiming £2.6bn to park a further 1.4 million workers, followed by manufacturers whose factories have been shut claiming £2.1bn for 831,000 workers.

Two million jobs in London and the South East, and 628,000 in Scotland, have been funded by the scheme. In terms of percentage of jobs furloughed per constituency, nearly half of jobs in Brent Central in North West London - 45.4 per cent - were found to be furloughed. Feltham and Crowley, close to Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, were also in the top 10 of highest percentage of jobs furloughed – as were Glasgow East, Blackpool South and Westmorland and Lonsdale in Cumbria.

Thursday 11 June

4.25pm Heathrow announces further job cuts following 97 per cent drop in passenger numbers

Heathrow Airport will be making further job cuts, the company has said, after demand for air travel hit an all-time low in May. Passenger numbers fell by 97 per cent in May, compared with the same period last year. Heathrow’s CEO, John Holland-Kaye, said the company’s efforts to protect frontline roles were “no longer sustainable”. He announced the launch of a voluntary severance scheme among the airport’s staff, adding that further job cuts could not be ruled out. Jobs affected by the decision will include security staff, baggage trolley operatives as well as engineering and maintenance staff.

4.15pm Under 30s suffer hardest financial hit from coronavirus

Younger workers have seen their finances hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis, analysis from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown. Those under the age of 30 are more likely than the rest of the workforce to have lost their jobs or seen their income drop throughout the pandemic. Additionally, they also are less likely to have significant savings, and spend a larger proportion of their income than other age groups. 

1.15pm Notice pay for employees on furlough

Rachel Kendall, employment team associate at Kemp Little, explains how businesses should navigate remunerating redundant staff who are already on the job retention scheme. 

12.30pm Quarter of 1.2 million-strong Welsh workforce furloughed

A total of 316,500 employees in Wales have been placed on furlough since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Treasury figures show. This equates to just over a quarter of Wales' 1.2 million-strong workforce. The government figures suggest Conwy, Pembrokeshire and Powys could have higher proportions of workers on furlough – around 30 per cent – because of the importance of the tourism and hospitality sectors in those areas.

Approximately 21 per cent of Cardiff's workforce (about 36,000 workers) have been furloughed, while 23,000 (24 per cent) people in Swansea have been placed on the scheme. The news comes as the government revealed some 8.9 million workers across the UK have been furloughed. 

12.20pm More than 20,000 jobs to be lost at Lufthansa

German airline Lufthansa has announced plans to cut 22,000 jobs as it struggles to cope with the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the travel industry. Last month, the company avoided collapse by agreeing a €9bn rescue deal with the German government in exchange for which the government would take a 20 per cent stake in the firm. 

However, Lufthansa nonetheless predicted the return of demand for flights to be slow, and has said half its jobs in Germany would have to be cut. The airline employs more than 135,000 people worldwide, and about half of those are in Germany. "The aim is to pave the way for the preservation of as many jobs as possible in the Lufthansa Group," the company said.

12.10pm Bombardier cuts 400 jobs in Northern Ireland

Bombardier Aerospace is cutting 400 jobs at its Northern Ireland operations. The losses are part of a restructuring plan that will see 2,500 jobs cut across the Canadian firm's global operations. Bombardier employs about 3,600 staff across several facilities in greater Belfast.

It said the move was in response to "extraordinary industry interruptions and challenges" caused by the coronavirus pandemic, adding: "We deeply regret the impact this will have on our workforce and their families, but it is crucial that we resize our business in line with market realities in these unprecedented circumstances." 

9.50am Easing of two metre social distancing rule ‘priority’ for economy, say MPs

Backbench ministers are increasing pressure on the government to ease the two metre social distancing rule, claiming it is an essential part of restarting the economy. MPs including former Conservative party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith claim reducing the distance required between people in public to one metre, in line with countries such as France and Singapore, is key to getting the economy moving and to businesses recovering from the crisis. Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail that the easing of the two metre rule was the “single most important priority to unlock the economy”, adding that “the hospitality sector simply can't make a living at two metres". At the government’s daily briefing last night, prime minister Boris Johnson said the two metre rule was being kept in place, but that the government would be keeping the practice under review. 

9.20am British Gas owner Centrica to cut 5,000 jobs

Centrica, the owner of British Gas, is to take out 5,000 jobs as it looks to cut costs by simplifying its business structure. The company is removing three layers of management, with more than half of the job losses falling on leadership roles, and the restructuring is expected to take place in the second half of 2020. Centrica also said it intends to simplify its employee terms and conditions, as it has up to 80 different employee contracts.

Chris O’Shea, chief executive of Centrica, said he regretted the decision, but said the company’s “complex business model hinders the delivery of our strategy”, adding the coronavirus pandemic had negatively impacted the already struggling business. Centrica’s announcement adds to the mounting toll of coronavirus job cuts, including 9,000 redundancies at engineering firm Rolls-Royce, and the loss of 10,000 roles at BP.

8am A quarter of Dennis Publishing staff facing redundancy

Dennis Publishing – the owner of dozens of magazines including The Week, Viz and Minecraft World – has put a quarter of its UK staff into a redundancy consultation process, according to reports by the Guardian. The company has begun a consultation process with 122 of its approximately 480 staff, and it is understood to be seeking to cut about half of the roles involved in the consultation. 

A spokesperson for Dennis Publishing UK said the coronavirus crisis has had a significant impact on the publishing sector and, as a result, the company will begin a redundancy consultation. The spokesperson added: "Although we are confident that Dennis has a bright future, we have not been immune to its economic impact. We have worked hard to reduce our costs and found savings in several areas; however, the outlook for our advertising, events and retail businesses, which accounts for approximately a third of the group’s revenues, has deteriorated as a result of the pandemic.”

Last month, Bauer Media, one of the UK’s biggest magazine publishers, said that it was considering closing, selling, merging or shutting the print edition of 10 titles because of the pandemic. Chris Duncan, CEO of UK publishing at Bauer Media, said a number of the 100 titles it publishes “are not expected to be sustainable after the crisis”.

7.30am Firms can't cope with no-deal Brexit and Covid-19, says CBI boss

British firms do not have the resilience to cope with a no-deal Brexit after the battering of the coronavirus crisis, according to the boss of the CBI. Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, the outgoing director general of the CBI, told the BBC that a CBI member had likened a no-deal to "setting the shed on fire" while the house was in flames. Though there are reports of the pandemic putting an added strain on trade talks, the government said it was continuing negotiations and wants to reach an agreement with the EU this year. 

Fairbairn said any buffers to cope with the additional cost and planning of an exit from the EU without a deal had been exhausted by the Covid crisis, and the resilience of British business was "absolutely on the floor". She added: "The firms that I speak to have not a spare moment to plan for a no trade deal Brexit at the end of the year – that is the common sense voice that needs to find its way into these negotiations."

Wednesday 10 June

4.45pm Business leaders to be on ‘front line’ in the next phase of coronavirus crisis, experts suggest

As the coronavirus crisis continues, business leaders will find themselves working on the frontline, the former chairman of John Lewis Partnership has said. Charlie Mayfield told CIPD Festival of Work attendees that as the country braces for the full economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the spotlight will be on business leaders to see how they manage their organisations through. Mayfield warned that “there will be heroes and there will be villains”. 

In the discussion chaired by CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese, which focussed on good work in practice in the post-pandemic world, panellists suggested the crisis could afford UK companies the opportunity to bring about big changes in ways of working, to benefit employees and society. Dame Helena Morrissey, financier and founder of The 30% Club, said it was time for a “quantum leap” in how businesses are governed, and Phoenix Group CEO Andy Briggs said the speed at which companies had adapted to new ways of working that wouldn’t previously been considered possible should make leaders more ambitious to adopt radical change. “Why do we talk about becoming greenhouse gas emission neutral by 2030?” he asked. “Covid has shown we can make big changes quickly”. 

4.40pm Covid-19 cases among prison staff continues to rise, official figures show

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 among prison workers in England and Wales continues to rise, according to Ministry of Justice figures. As of Tuesday evening, 956 staff across 105 prisons – a rise of 0.5 per cent in 24 hours – had tested positive for Covid-19.

At least nine staff members, one prison escort driver and one NHS trust employee working in a secure training centre, as well as 23 prisoners, are known to have died from the virus across the 117 prisons in England and Wales.

4.30pm Scottish tourism sector could reopen on 15 July

Scotland's tourism businesses have been told to prepare to reopen on 15 July. Scottish tourism secretary Fergus Ewing said businesses in the sector should prepare to reopen next month, but he warned "absolutely nothing can be guaranteed" as this date may change if the evidence on Covid-19 requires it. The announcement was welcomed by the Scottish Tourism Alliance, which said the move was a “hugely positive milestone in our road to recovery". 

Ewing told MSPs the pandemic had left the industry facing unprecedented challenges and a new taskforce was needed to focus on the sector's recovery needs, actions being taken by the UK government and the development of a new domestic visitor marketing campaign. He said: "The coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges across the entirety of the Scottish economy, but it is very clear there are exceptional circumstances facing this sector that must be recognised." 

4.15pm Government not ruling out retired teachers returning to help schools cope

Downing Street would not rule out the possibility of retired teachers being called back to the workforce to help schools cope with the coronavirus crisis. A government spokesman told The Guardian it will “do whatever we can to make sure that no child falls behind as a result of coronavirus", which could include calling on retired teachers to return to the profession. The spokesman added the government is working to "bring all children back in September" and are considering what additional support pupils will need. 

3.50pm A fifth of care workers in Scotland have been tested for Covid-19

A fifth of Scotland's care home staff have been tested for coronavirus since the Scottish government promised to offer them all routine testing. The Scottish government announced on 28 May that all 50,000 care home workers would be offered weekly tests. Speaking at first minister's questions today, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed only 11,000 staff had been tested so far, as well as 15,000 of the country's 35,000 care home residents.

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said the figures showed that "tens of thousands are still going into work with vulnerable people with no idea whether or not they're carrying the disease". He said it was "pathetic" that so few tests had been carried out and called on Sturgeon to "get a grip" on the situation. 

3.30pm Prime minister promises regular testing for 'high contact' professions

Workers in close contact with the public will get regular coronavirus tests even if they are not showing symptoms, Boris Johnson has said. Speaking during prime minister's questions today, Johnson said the move would help mitigate higher risks faced by black and minority ethnic workers in "front line" transport and health roles. He told MPs that "high-contact professions" would now get expanded and targeted testing, but he did not give any further details on which roles or professions would be included in this. 

The announcement followed criticism from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who referenced a Public Health England report, saying: "That report concluded that death rates are highest among black and Asian ethnic groups and it went on to say, and this was the important bit, that it is already clear that relevant guidance and key policies should be adapted to mitigate the risk, already clear. If it is already clear that guidance and policy need to be changed, why has the government not already acted?" The government said it was "already acting" to find out why risks were higher for certain groups, including whether housing density or profession played a role, and how to mitigate coronavirus risks for black and minority ethnic groups.

1.40pm Working hard not the same as increasing productivity, top economist warns

Working harder during a time of crisis is not the same as improving productivity, delegates at the CIPD’s Festival of Work have been told. Andrew Scott, professor of economics at London Business School, said it was understandable that at a time of uncertainty, like the current coronavirus outbreak, businesses would tend to focus on working harder at their current processes. But, he added: “Do not confuse working hard with being productive.”

When facing a crisis such as coronavirus, Scott urged businesses to consider their overall mission and be flexible with how they achieve that: “Don’t try and get back to your plan. [Instead] think what is our ultimate purpose and mission? [That is what] delivered the plan that you’re scrapping. Reconfigure your plan to deliver your mission.”

12.50pm Brighton & Hove City Council to furlough workers

Brighton & Hove City Council is set to furlough "hundreds" of staff while the coronavirus pandemic continues, according to reports by the GMB Union. The union said the workers who are proposed to be placed on the government's job retention scheme include after-school and nursery workers, Royal Pavilion staff and staff at the Brighton Centre.

Council leader Nancy Platts said the move was a result of the “significant financial impacts” the council was facing. She said: “We have been working closely with our trade union colleagues on how we might use the furlough scheme for some council staff whose roles are funded by income and where we have had to temporarily close services." The move comes after more councils – including Oxford City Council, Reading Borough Council and Dundee City Council – announced they were furloughing staff even though the government did not originally predict the public sector would need to use the scheme. 

12.10pm How should HR support managers on staff wellbeing as the Covid crisis continues?

As the full impact of coronavirus is felt across the UK’s workforce, middle management has been the first port of call for many workers seeking answers. When lockdown scattered well-established teams to a new virtual way of working, most employees no doubt turned to their line managers for support first.

In turn, managers have dealt with an onslaught of changes and challenges to the way they manage and support their teams. And this is a level of support that will need to continue in a post-lockdown world as staff gradually return to places of work. People Management talks to experts on how the people profession can help line managers support staff wellbeing throughout the coronavirus crisis. 

11.50am Businesses should be wary of abusing the job retention scheme

The number of cases of furlough fraud could be the tip of the iceberg, with redundant employees more willing to report their employer, explains Alison Loveday.

11.30am Monsoon Accessorize and Quiz announce job cuts

Fashion group Monsoon Accessorize has today announced 545 job losses and the closure of 35 shops, saying its current structure was "unviable" following the lockdown. It will now attempt to renegotiate the terms of its remaining 162 shops with its landlords, and aims to safeguard up to 2,300 jobs. 

Meanwhile, chain Quiz said it would place its stores into administration, potentially putting jobs at risk. The retailer said it would put its 82 outlets in the UK and Ireland into administration before buying them back so it could negotiate better rental terms with its landlords. It explained that some 822 employees out of a total of 915 would transfer to the new company. 

11am Coronavirus leaves one in 10 UK charities facing bankruptcy this year

One in 10 UK charities are facing bankruptcy by the end of the year as they struggle to cope with a £10bn shortfall caused by soaring demand for their services and lost fundraising income as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, a study shows. The analysis by independent charity Pro Bono Economics found the pandemic would trigger a £6.4bn loss of income for third sector businesses over the next six months, just as demand for extra services adds costs of £3.7bn.

The study also found nine in 10 (88 per cent) charities anticipated Covid-19 would reduce their income over the coming six months compared with pre-crisis plans, and more than half (59 per cent) would ‘significantly’ reduce their activity. Additionally, two-thirds of charities said they were unable to furlough staff because this would mean having to stop providing services. 

10.40am UK economy likely to be hit hardest by Covid-19, OECD says

Britain’s is likely to be one of the economies worst hit by the coronavirus crisis, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The think tank said the drop in the UK’s national income following months of lockdown was likely to outstrip that of those in other European countries including Italy, France, Spain and Germany. 

The UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) is likely to suffer a drop of 11.5 per cent this year, the OECD said, compared to 11.4 per cent in France, 11.3 per cent in Italy, 11.1 per cent in Spain and just 6.6 per cent in Germany. Other countries badly hit by the virus, such as the US and Brazil, were also predicted to see smaller economic hits than the UK, with the US’s GDP forecast to shrink by 7.3 per cent and Brazil’s by 7.4 per cent. 

10.10am Parents who return to work after cut off will receive furlough

Parents who return to work following extended leave after the June cut-off date for furlough payments will still be eligible for them, the government has said. The Treasury has said those on statutory maternity and paternity leave who return to work in the next few months will be eligible for the furlough scheme after today (10 June). Today is the deadline for employers to place new staff on furlough. The scheme will be closed to new businesses claiming subsidies through it from 30 June.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said, when he announced changes to the furlough scheme last month, it was "clear we wanted to do this in a fair way" that supported people back to work. He said: "But for parents returning from leave, their circumstances have meant that they are still in need of support, and I’m pleased that they will be able to receive the financial assistance they and their family will need." Further details of the change are set to be published on 12 June.

10am Airline job losses could be on scale of 1980s mining industry, report warns

The grounding of air travel during the coronavirus pandemic could prompt a jobs crisis in British aviation on the scale of the coal mining industry’s collapse during the 1980s, a study has warned. The report by the New Economics Foundation found at least 70,000 jobs in the wider aviation industry – including engineering, catering and duty free shopping – are at risk of being cut before the end of summer. Because of the pandemic, it said thousands of workers in the industry will have to retrain in other areas of the economy.

The study – which was compiled in collaboration with the TUC, aviation unions and climate action charity Possible – warned this figure would match the job losses in the coal industry in 1980-81 in the early years of Margaret Thatcher’s newly elected Tory government. The warning comes as airlines have already been among the biggest beneficiaries of government support, with British Airways, Ryanair and easyJet placing more than 25,000 staff on furlough and borrowing £1.5bn using government-backed loans.

9.40am Up to 3,000 UK restaurant jobs at risk as chain closes stores

The Restaurant Group, which owns food chains including Frankie and Benny’s, has confirmed plans to close 125 of its branches, costing up to 3,000 jobs. 

It said most of these closures would hit Frankie and Benny’s restaurants, but its other chains, such as Garfunkel’s and Chiquito, would also be affected. On top of the 125 closures, the company said it would also be seeking to renegotiate rents and terms on a further 85 outlets. 

9am Local lockdowns will require local furlough schemes, say mayors

Local furlough schemes must be put in place to compensate workers and businesses in the event of any local lockdowns, regional politicians and business leaders have said. Last month, health secretary Matt Hancock announced that the UK would have "local lockdowns in future where there are flare-ups” of coronavirus. But the government has yet to issue any detailed guidance, prompting local authorities and politicians to question what such lockdowns would look like and how they would be enforced. 

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, the mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool city region respectively, called on the government in a joint statement to introduce a local furlough scheme for people whose workplaces were closed down or who were unable to get to work. They said local authorities must be provided with sufficient funding to provide food and humanitarian assistance to the community for the duration of the lockdown. And Ben Houchen, Conservative mayor of Tees Valley, said he could only support “micro lockdowns” to respond to an outbreak in a school, business or institutional setting, for instance. 

8.30am Young people 'face trap of world without work', says research

The economic damage of the coronavirus crisis will hit young workers hardest, essentially leaving them to "face the trap of a world without work", an Ulster University study has suggested. The research estimated that youth unemployment in Northern Ireland (among those aged 16-24) could jump from 8 per cent to 26 per cent in 2020. That compares to an estimated unemployment rate of about 10 per cent for workers aged 25-49 this year.

The study also showed that young people were disproportionately employed in hospitality – with this age group accounting for 36 per cent of hospitality employees in Northern Ireland – which was likely to be the last sector to emerge from lockdown. It also estimated that 45 per cent of under-25s had been furloughed or laid off since the start of the crisis, compared to 25 per cent to 30 per cent for older age groups.

8.20am Zoos and safari parks could reopen from 15 June

Zoos, safari parks and drive-in cinemas are set to reopen in England from Monday (15 June), the prime minister is due to announce later today. According to the BBC, Boris Johnson is expected to outline the latest step in easing lockdown during today's daily briefing, and it is thought he will state that outdoor attractions can reopen as long as they follow social distancing rules. Some zoos, including Chester Zoo and London Zoo, have reported financial struggles because of a lack of visitors and a subsequent drop in ticket sales caused by lockdown restrictions.

The move will pave the way for zoos and other attractions to reopen in England alongside non-essential shops, which can also open from 15 June. Yesterday, business secretary Alok Sharma announced that retailers could open as long as they follow safety guidelines, but he said pubs, bars, restaurants and hairdressers would not be able to reopen until 4 July "at the earliest". 

8am Aviation parts manufacturer in Scotland to cut workforce

A Scottish company that makes parts for the aviation sector, including engine maker Rolls-Royce, is to cut its workforce, unions have said. Unite Scotland said 72 of the 187 staff at the Wyman-Gordon plant in Livingston had been issued with redundancy notices. The union said the firm was blaming the job cuts on a substantial drop in orders as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Graeme Turnbull, Unite regional officer, said: "We understand the challenges facing the sector, but the company should continue using the job retention scheme while specific sector support packages are brought forward. More clearly needs to be done by the UK and Scottish governments to stabilise those sectors that have borne the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic."

Tuesday 9 June

5.35pm Non-essential shops can reopen from 15 June

Business secretary Alok Sharma has confirmed non-essential retail outlets will be able to open for business again from 15 June, provided they comply with health and safety guidelines in relation to coronavirus. 

At today’s government briefing, Sharma said parts of the economy would be able to reopen in a “phased manner”, adding that the two-metre social distancing rule is still in place, but will be kept under review. 

4.30pm Debenhams to close more UK shops, cutting 300 jobs

High street retailer Debenhams has announced that three more of its shops will not reopen after lockdown, meaning 300 more jobs will be lost at the business. The company said it had failed to agree new rental terms for the stores in Milton Keynes, Watford and Gateshead with landlord Intu. This brings the number of Debenhams branches to be closed permanently after the coronavirus crisis to 20. 

Debenhams has been undergoing a restructure after it went into administration for the second time in a year in April, as the economic effect of lockdown measures took hold. It is thought more than 4,000 jobs will be lost as a result of the restructure, from both closed branches and head office. 

2.25pm Coronavirus and whistleblowing

During Covid-19 employers should ensure they are better prepared to deal with complaints, as employment partner at Dentons Michelle Lamb explains in light of relevant case law.  

2.20pm The importance of mentoring through a crisis

As the coronavirus outbreak continues to put a strain on wellbeing, Sonika Sharma, global strategy and communications manager at Unilever, explains how the firm has benefited from mentorship

2.15pm Two-thirds of working households suffer coronavirus pay cuts, survey reveals

Nearly two-thirds of UK employees have taken, or seen a member of their household take, a salary cut during the pandemic, a new survey has shown, with this affecting the wellbeing of many. 

Consultancy Barnett Waddingham polled more than 2,000 full and part-time employees and found 61 per cent reported that someone in their household had seen their wages cut. Of these workers, almost four-fifths (79 per cent) said it had affected their mental wellbeing. Among staff who had seen a fall in household earnings, 40 per cent said they had experienced increased anxiety as a result, while 39 per cent reported higher stress levels. More than a quarter (28 per cent) reported sleepless nights and a fifth (20 per cent) said they had experienced mood swings. 

2.10pm Half of working mums say childcare during Covid-19 has damaged their career, poll finds

More than half of working mums believe increased childcare responsibilities during the coronavirus crisis have negatively affected their career prospects or will harm them in future, according to a survey. 

Charity and campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed polled almost 3,700 pregnant women and mothers to understand the impact of Covid-19, and almost three months of lockdown, on their careers. More than three-quarters (78 per cent) found it challenging to manage childcare and paid work during lockdown. As a result, 57 per cent thought increased childcare responsibilities had negatively affected their career prospects, or would harm them in future. 

11.10am UK furlough scheme now covers 8.9 million workers

Some 8.9 million workers are now covered by the government's furlough scheme – an increase of 200,000 from last week – the Treasury has announced. Claims filed by employers have now reached £19.6bn, up from £17.5bn the previous week. This is a crucial week for businesses, with the deadline for employers to place new staff on furlough tomorrow (10 June). The scheme will be closed to new businesses claiming subsidies through it from 30 June.

The Treasury data also showed a similar scheme for self-employed workers, known as the self-employed income support scheme, had seen 2.6 million claims made, worth approximately £7.5bn. 

11am UK jobs outlook gloomiest in nearly 30 years amid pandemic, finds survey

The outlook for jobs is the worst it’s been in almost three decades, according to an employment survey by recruitment firm ManpowerGroup. It found companies in all large sectors of the economy were more likely to cut jobs than hire people from July to September – the weakest forecast since records began in 1992.

The survey of 1,056 employers across the UK found 57 per cent expected to return to normal hiring levels by this time next year. Mark Cahill, managing director of ManpowerGroup UK, said the data underlined the resilience of employers, but warned there were still "challenges that lie ahead". He added that "around three-quarters" of employers surveyed expected to retain current staffing levels in the coming quarter.

10.40am Unions ‘pleased’ as government scraps plan for primary school return 

The government has dropped its plan for primary schools in England to return to the classroom before the end of term. The initial plan – which had been heavily criticised by the headteacher’s union – is thought to be no longer feasible. 

Geoff Barton, leader of headteachers' union the Association of School and College Leaders, said the government was “over-promising something that wasn’t deliverable” and added that it wasn’t possible “while maintaining small class sizes”. Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, said the government’s original plan was “ill-considered, premature and unworkable”. Education secretary Gavin Williamson is expected to deliver a statement to the House of Commons on the reopening of schools later today. 

10.30am Small shops in Northern Ireland can reopen from Friday

All non-essential retailers can reopen in Northern Ireland from Friday (12 June), Stormont's economy minister, Diane Dodds, has said. Large retailers and shops in retail parks reopened today, and all high street shops in the Republic of Ireland resumed business on Monday (8 June). Dodds said the Northern Ireland Executive will discuss when shopping centres can reopen later this week.

Dodds described the announcement as a "major step forward" for the economy, and said it was time to accelerate the pace of recovery. She added: "It was agreed that as long as retailers can adhere to the necessary safety measures, and there is no increase in the spread of the virus by Thursday, then these shops can reopen." Ministers are due to hold a special meeting on Thursday to assess long-term strategies for helping Northern Ireland return to normality. 

Monday 8 June

5.15pm Quarter of Mulberry employees set to lose jobs

Predominantly UK-based fashion brand Mulberry could cut 25 per cent of its 1,400-strong workforce, according to a company statement. In an announcement revealing that the firm plans to begin reopening stores from 15 June, the organisation also said its revenue had been severely affected by the coronavirus crisis. “Even once stores reopen, social distancing measures, reduced tourist and footfall levels will continue to impact our revenue. As a result of this, we must manage our operations and cost base accordingly to ensure the company is the correct size and structure to reflect market conditions,” the statement said. A consultation period of 45 days has now begun on the potential job losses. 

5.10pm BP to cut 10,000 jobs worldwide 

BP has announced it will cut 10,000 jobs as oil prices “plunged” below profit lines because of the coronavirus. Having formerly paused redundancies in April during the peak of the crisis, the oil and gas company revealed to employees that it would reduce its workforce by around 15 per cent by the end of the year. 

BP’s chief executive, Bernard Looney, told staff in an email: "The oil price has plunged well below the level we need to turn a profit.” BP has not confirmed the number of UK employees set to leave, but the BBC reported that it could be “close to 2,000”. 

1.05pm Three in five working carers use annual leave to juggle jobs with care, poll finds

Three in five (60 per cent) working carers had to use their annual leave last year to look after an ill, elderly or disabled family member, partner or friend, research has found

A poll by savings and retirement firm Phoenix found carers used on average six days of their holiday entitlement to help them juggle work and caring responsibilities, prompting calls from the company for the government to roll out extra statutory leave for carers as soon as possible. “With an ageing society, more and more people will have caring responsibilities, and if they're not already providing support, employers really do need to be going forward,” said Claire McCartney, senior policy adviser at the CIPD.

12.10pm Many firms slow to adopt virtual learning, report finds

The number of organisations still reliant on classroom-based learning is relatively high, a survey has found, raising concerns about the accessibility of L&D in lockdown. The CIPD and Accenture’s Learning and skills at work 2020 report surveyed more than 1,200 employers in February 2020, and found that one in five organisations (21 per cent) did not use any technology to support learning activities, with many continuing to rely on classroom-based training. It also revealed that only one in three (29 per cent) businesses claimed to have clear L&D plans for employees.

The report suggested that “barriers” to virtual learning experiences still persisted, and called on organisations to harness digital learning to ensure skills development issues were not exacerbated by Covid-19. It found the top three barriers to the delivery of learning were a lack of learning time (41 per cent), limited budgets (40 per cent) and lack of management time or support (29 per cent). 

11.10am More than seven million people have suffered 'lockdown loneliness', says ONS

More than seven million Brits have suffered from ‘lockdown loneliness’, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Its report found that in the first month of the lockdown, 7.4 million people reported their wellbeing being affected by loneliness. But levels of ‘chronic loneliness’ – defined as being lonely often or always – remained the same as before the lockdown at about 5 per cent, or 2.6 million people. "During the same period, 30.9 per cent of those asked said their wellbeing had been affected through feeling lonely in the past seven days,” the report said. “We refer to this group as ‘lockdown lonely’. If we adjusted this to be representative of the entire Great British population this would be equivalent to 14.3 per cent."

The mental health and loneliness of staff during lockdown has been a concern for businesses. In research by the Mental Health Foundation and LinkedIn more than half (54 per cent) of 1,000-plus HR professionals surveyed said they believed mental health issues such as stress, burnout, isolation and loneliness had increased among their workforce since the coronavirus crisis hit and most workers have had to do their jobs from home. And almost three in five (58 per cent) feared losing staff to sick leave as a result of the mental health effects of working in lockdown.

10.20am Expert warns redundancies ahead as businesses hit new furlough rule deadline this week

Businesses will have just a few days to decide if they will make staff redundant as changes to the furlough scheme deadline loom, an employment law expert has warned. Andrew Sanford, business advisory partner at Blick Rothenberg, said bosses would need to make some "tough business decisions" on whether to make staff redundant as soon changes to the job retention scheme would see employers making financial contributions to furloughed staff's wages from August onwards.

Speaking to Wales Online, he said: "Regrettably, with the additional costs of furloughing staff, and the inevitable restrictions likely to be in place post lockdown, businesses will have to consider whether it is economically viable to continue furloughing all of their staff and many may be made redundant. Businesses have until [Wednesday 10 June] to inform their employees who is going to be furloughed, if they have previously not been furloughed."

8.20am New travel quarantine rules will cause thousands of tourism industry job losses, says airline boss

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has warned that the new travel quarantine rules coming into force today will cause “untold devastation” for the UK’s tourism industry. The new rules will require all people arriving in the UK to self-isolate for 14 days or be fined £1,000. Last week, the parent company of airline British Airways confirmed it was taking legal counsel in a bid to challenge the government’s new policy.

Speaking to BBC Radio’s 4 Today programme this morning, O'Leary said: "What it is going to do is untold devastation, not just to the airlines but to British tourism. The thousands of hotels, the thousands of visitor attractions, restaurants in the next couple of months – July and August are the two key months for British tourism in the tourism industry. We’re facing thousands of job losses because of a stupid, ineffective quarantine."

7.50am £36bn of government-backed loans will be 'toxic' for businesses, warns taskforce

Up to £36bn worth of government-backed business loans could turn 'toxic' by next year, as companies struggle to repay growing debts during the Covid-19 crisis, a report has warned. An interim report by the Recapitalisation Group, led by EY and lobby group TheCityUK, projected that businesses will be saddled with £97bn-£107bn worth of unsustainable debt by March 2021, and a third of that total will come from government-backed loans.

The report outlines a range of measures meant to support businesses and avoid using taxpayer money to cover unpaid debts if firms default on their loans. Those ideas include turning debt into equity or a profit tax, and introducing debt repayment holidays. A final version of the report, which has now been released for consultation, is expected by July.

Friday 5 June

5.30pm Face coverings mandatory for hospital staff from 15 June

In the daily Downing Street press briefing, health secretary Matt Hancock has stated hospital staff in England will be required to wear face coverings – specifically Type 1 or Type 2 surgical masks – from 15 June.

Hospital visitors and outpatients will also have to wear face coverings. This follows the announcement yesterday (4 June) that face coverings will also be mandatory on public transport from 15 June.

Hancock added it was "critically important" to stop the virus spreading among hospital staff and patients.

4.30pm Bentley to cut 1,000 jobs 

Luxury carmaker Bentley is set to cut 1,000 of its 4,200 workforce following a downturn in sales across the automotive industry since the pandemic began. Adrian Hallmark, chairman and CEO of Bentley said the virus was a “hastener” in job cuts as it began looking for a quarter of its workforce to accept voluntary redundancy. 

Last month, the company revealed that a quarter (around 1,000) workers had been furloughed due to lockdown and that an additional quarter were working from home. Bentley has since started production at its Crewe factory with reduced staff, but Hallmark warned that it "cannot rule out future compulsory redundancies".

4.20pm CPS to review death of Belly Mujinga following incident during work

The British Transport Police (BTP) has requested the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) review the case of the death of station worker Belly Mujinga, who died from Covid-19 on 5 April. 

A few weeks before her death, Mujinga was reportedly spat at by a man claiming to have Covid-19 while at work at London Victoria station. Last week, the BTP closed the case, concluding there was insufficient evidence that the man spat on Mujinga deliberately, or said he had the virus. However, in a statement today it reopened proceedings, inviting the CPS to conduct an independent review of the available evidence and follow any further lines of enquiry. A petition in support of Mujinga has reached over 1 million signatures. 

3pm Reading Borough Council set to furlough staff

Hundreds of Reading Borough Council staff are set to be furloughed, which could help the council to recoup millions in earnings lost during the coronavirus crisis. The staff set to be furloughed include 125 workers at cultural centres across Reading and the town hall. 

The council’s chief executive and leader have agreed to furlough employees, subject to agreement with staff and trade unions. The move comes after more councils announced they are using the furlough scheme – including Oxford City Council, Colchester Borough Council and Dundee City Council – even though the government did not originally predict the public sector would need to use the scheme. 

2.50pm BA boss threatens lawsuit over UK quarantine plans

The parent company of airline British Airways today confirmed it is taking legal counsel in a bid to challenge the government’s new policy requiring travellers to the UK to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. 

Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group described the measures as “an irrational piece of legislation”, and said other airlines would also bring legal challenges against the policy. The plans, which could see travellers who don’t comply with the rules given fines of up to £1,000 to limit the spread of coronavirus in the UK, are due to come into force on Monday. 

1.30pm Victoria's Secret slips into administration, raising fears for more than 800 staff

The UK arm of lingerie brand Victoria's Secret has announced it is going into administration. Victoria’s Secret UK runs 25 stores across the UK and had already furloughed 785 workers after the pandemic forced it to close shops to the public.

The company has called in Deloitte for a "light touch" administration, and administrators will try to find a buyer for its assets or renegotiate its rents. Deloitte administrator Rob Harding said it was “yet another blow to the UK high street” and further evidence of the impact of the pandemic on the retail sector as a whole. He added: "The effect of the lockdowns, combined with broader challenges facing bricks and mortar retailers, has resulted in a funding requirement for this business, resulting in today’s administration."

1pm Number of people travelling to work increased, says ONS

The number of people leaving their house to go to work has increased, according to a weekly report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on lifestyle changes related to the pandemic. 91 per cent of adults across Britain reported leaving their home in the past week, with the number of those travelling to and from work rising to 40 per cent, compared with 36 per cent the week before. 

Almost half of adults (49 per cent) had visited a park or public green space this week, and of these, 39 per cent said they had met with family or friends from outside of their household. For those parents in England to whom it was applicable, 63 per cent felt either very or quite unconfident in sending their children back to school in June. Over half (54 per cent) said they were either very or quite unlikely to do so. 

12.30pm How are people teams responding to coronavirus? …UK Export Finance

UK Export Finance (UKEF) is the country’s export credit agency, a government department working alongside the Department for International Trade as part of its strategy and operations. Shane Lynch, the organisation’s director of resources, explains how the agency’s focus on business continuity planning and home working drills prior to the pandemic has been incredibly valuable. 

12.25pm Is employee surveillance legal during lockdown?

The speed at which companies transitioned to remote working in March has shown that this type of working is not only possible for all, but offers a whole new way of doing business. However, with the rapid advancement of technology and home working, new legal considerations come into play.  

Employers understandably want to keep track of their staff during this extended period of remote working. Jonathan Rennie and Nicky Beach explain how much is too much. 

12.15pm UK’s furlough scheme to cost less than expected, says watchdog

The job retention scheme will cost less than expected because employers have concentrated its use on part-time and low-paid workers, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has said. The fiscal watchdog has cut its estimate of the cost of the furlough scheme from £84bn to £60bn, claiming this 30 per cent drop is because, even though the take-up of the scheme is now higher than expected, the average grant per job is lower than it had assumed.

12pm Pimlico Plumbers founder claims he will sack employees who have 'abused' furlough scheme

Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers, has said he will sack employees on furlough who he believes have “abused” the scheme. Mullins told the Telegraph his company will "get rid" of up to 30 employees whom he believes have misused the scheme by going on furlough and not having health problems or living with vulnerable relatives. Mullins said: “Undoubtedly, and I have to say I’m probably being very direct and blunt, the people that abuse the furlough on Pimlico Plumbers we will not have them back. We will get rid of them.”

Currently, it is only office staff who have been placed on furlough by Pimlico Plumbers as the company's plumbers are self-employed – an arrangement that has been criticised in the past – and do not qualify for the scheme. He said the company would protect furloughed workers who have health issues or live with vulnerable people. Under the government's job retention scheme, there is no requirement for employees to have vulnerable circumstances in order to qualify for being placed on furlough. 

11.40am Taylor Wimpey staff return from furlough as demand for new homes rises

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey has announced that all its employees have now returned from being furloughed as it says its order book for new homes has swelled over the last month. The company shut offices, construction sites and showrooms in March, but restarted work on construction and pre-booked viewings in May after the government eased the lockdown for the housing market. 

Taylor Wimpey today said it has seen a “very high level of demand for appointments”, with a healthy increase in reservations made recently, meaning all its employees have now returned to work. However, it said many staff members are still working from home, including those shielding or those who are shielding someone vulnerable, and will not ask anyone to return physically to work if they do not feel it is safe for them to do so. 

11.35am Rail unions may strike over government plans for volunteer ‘army’

The RMT union has threatened strike action following transport secretary Grant Shapps’ announcement that an “army” of volunteers will remind travellers about mandatory face coverings. The union claims there was no consultation on the decision and condemns moves to put unpaid workers in “safety-critical roles”. 

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said the Department for Transport had “done a backroom deal to recruit unpaid and unskilled workers on our railway without even so much as conversation with rail unions”. The union has raised concerns about “overstretched rail workers at risk of being abused, assaulted and spat at by aggressive passengers”, and called for staff to be properly protected. 

11.30am Job losses are 'tip of the iceberg', says recruitment boss

The boss of recruitment firm Reed has suggested far more people are going to lose their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic based on current trends in the recruitment industry. James Reed said recent job cuts were "perhaps just the tip of the iceberg" as he predicted the unemployment rate in the UK could reach 15 per cent. According to the Office for National Statistics, the unemployment rate sits at 3.9 per cent for January to March 2020.

Speaking to the BBC's Today programme, Reed said: "My concern is that the data that we're seeing, which is that the number of jobs advertised is down two-thirds and has been consistently for two months now, suggests that there could be a lot more job losses to come." Reed's prediction comes Bentley, Aston Martin, Rolls-Royce and Lookers all announced job cuts this week. 

Thursday 4 June

2.30pm Debenhams to start reopening shops after lockdown

Debenhams plans to reopen three stores in Northern Ireland on Monday (8 June), followed by 50 shops in England the week after. The retailer went into administration for the second time in April after a severe drop in sales because of the pandemic, but Debenhams has struck deals with landlords to keep 120 stores open.

However, 17 stores will remain closed for good when coronavirus lockdown is lifted, and it is still in discussions about the fate of a "handful" of other stores. Steven Cook, managing director of Debenhams, said: "We are delighted to be welcoming customers back to our stores in the coming weeks. From the installation of perspex screens at till points to the roll-out of social distancing procedures and PPE, we have been working hard to ensure our colleagues and customers can work and shop with confidence."

1.20pm Government considering guaranteed apprenticeships for young people, says prime minister

The prime minister has suggested the government could guarantee apprenticeships for all young people as part of efforts to boost employment as the country feels the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Boris Johnson told a press conference yesterday there will be “many, many job losses” across the country as a result of the crisis, and said young people in particular faced a “risk they will be out of jobs for a long time”.

He added that it would be “vital” that the government guarantees apprenticeships for young people, and said it would adopt an “activist and interventionist” approach to the country’s economic recovery. Analysis from the Office for National Statistics has shown that young people aged 16-24 have had the biggest reduction in their working hours since the crisis began, seeing on average a drop of 5.4 per cent. Meanwhile, a recent report from the Resolution Foundation found that employees aged 16-24 were twice as likely to work in sectors of the economy shut down by the coronavirus crisis as the rest of the workforce.

12.45pm Work is detrimental to employee wellbeing, CIPD survey finds

The number of people seeing benefits to their mental health from work was already in decline before the coronavirus outbreak struck, a CIPD survey has found, raising concerns about the further impact the virus is having on staff wellbeing.  The CIPD found the number of people reporting that work had positively affected their mental health dropped 9 percentage points over the last two years, from 44 per cent to 35 per cent. 

The report raised other ‘red flags’ about the impact of work on mental health, with 22 per cent of respondents reporting they felt exhausted, 21 per cent admitting being under excessive pressure and 11 per cent saying they were often miserable at work. Jonny Gifford, senior research adviser at the CIPD, said even before the pandemic, work was becoming worse for our health: “As the full scale of the economic crisis unfolds, the outlook looks even bleaker. We’ll likely see employers trying to do more with less, which will only increase people’s workload and the pressure they are already under."

11.40am Protected disclosures and coronavirus

With employees gradually beginning to return to the workplace, employers must make sure health and safety concerns don’t become whistleblowing opportunities, explains Toyah Marshall.

9.45am Car dealership Lookers to cut 1,500 jobs

Car dealership Lookers has announced it will cut up to 1,500 jobs as it plans to close more of its shops in the UK. The company, which employs 8,000 people, announced it would shut a number of its sites and because of the "structural changes taking place across the industry" it will need to make almost a fifth of its workforce redundant.

Mark Raban, chief executive for Lookers, said: "We have taken the decision to restructure the size of the group's dealership estate to position the business for a sustainable future, which regrettably means redundancy consultation with a number of our colleagues." Lookers resumed trading and reopened its car showrooms on 1 June with social distancing measures in place. 

7.20am Rolls-Royce confirms 3,000 job cuts across the UK

Rolls-Royce has begun the process by offering voluntary redundancy to everyone in its UK civil aerospace division, and staff could leave the firm as early as July.

Wednesday 3 June

3.40pm Standard Life Aberdeen tells staff to work from home for rest of 2020

The majority of workers at Standard Life Aberdeen have been told to continue working from home for the rest of this year, according to an internal staff memo seen by The Times. 

Mike Tumilty, the firm’s chief operating officer, told the 4,900 UK employees that he was planning for only “a small number of colleagues to return to office working over the coming months,” and that “One of the consistent messages across the UK is that, where possible, people should work from home if they can and this very much applies to financial services and therefore our business”. 

3.25pm How to avoid discrimination claims during lockdown and as staff return to work

During a CIPD webinar, the EHRC’s Charlotte Billington warned firms that don’t approach decisions fairly will face ‘employment tribunal claims and costly legal fees’. She added: “There is increased scrutiny on employers at the moment, so make sure the decisions you make aren’t discriminatory or victimising against a certain group. The public narrative and media focus is currently on employers that aren’t focusing on diversity and looking after employee needs.”

So what can employers do to ensure strong diversity and inclusion practices in the face of continued lockdown and home working, and as staff return to work?

3.15pm Move to monthly pay harming low earners already hit hardest by coronavirus pandemic, warns think tank

The move to monthly pay has left millions of the UK’s lowest-paid workers waiting longer for their money, disadvantaging many of the most vulnerable workers, a think tank has warned

In a new report, A new settlement for the low paid, the Resolution Foundation said the large-scale move to monthly payments meant the lowest-paid workers were in effect lending money to their employers – being owed on average £161 more on any given day than workers paid weekly – which is forcing some to turn to high-interest loans because of their own cash flow issues.

On top of this, it added that lower-paid workers had also been hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, being either the most likely to have lost their jobs because of the forced closure of businesses, or key workers putting their health at risk by working on the frontline.

12.10pm Tackling underperformance during lockdown

Work psychologist Ian MacRae explains how HR and managers can ensure that any negative behaviour employees may have picked up over the last 10 weeks doesn’t become permanent. 

12pm Latest changes to the job retention scheme

Michelle Hobbs, senior associate at law firm Stevens & Bolton, outlines what the government’s new furlough rules mean for employers, from short-time working to the tapering of the grant. 

11am British Airways faces standoff with unions over restructure

Unions Unite and GMB are refusing to enter talks with British Airways over plans to restructure its business, as Unite accuses the airline of using the coronavirus crisis to force through changes that will leave its members permanently worse off. 

On 28 April, BA formally notified its staff that consultations were beginning over a large restructure, which could result in up to 12,000 redundancies. The notice also warned staff that if an agreement over new terms could not be reached it would terminate current employee contracts and issue new ones. While pilots’ union Balpa has come to the table to discuss the restructure, other unions representing cabin crew and check-in staff are still refusing to enter talks, with Unite general secretary Len McCluskey saying “no other employer has threatened to effectively 'fire and rehire' its entire workforce”. 

Since the coronavirus pandemic saw aircraft grounded worldwide and travel restricted, BA has furloughed more than 22,600 staff through the government’s job retention scheme. 

8.40am Some Frankie & Benny's sites won't reopen after lockdown, says owner

The owner of Frankie & Benny's and Garfunkel's is set to tell staff that a "large number" of its outlets will not reopen after lockdown. In an email to staff seen by the BBC, The Restaurant Group, which owns the chains, said many restaurant sites are "no longer viable to trade and will remain closed permanently".

Staff will be told whether their workplaces will remain shut by email today. According to the BBC, the previous email announcing that some sites would not reopen said: "The Covid-19 crisis has significantly impacted our ability to trade profitably, so we've taken the tough decision to close these restaurants now." Staff were told it is "likely your role will be made redundant" unless the group is able to find any suitable alternative roles. 

Tuesday 2 June

2.45pm HMRC receives more than 1,800 reports of furlough fraud

More than 1,800 complaints in relation to companies potentially making fraudulent claims under the government’s job retention scheme have been made to HMRC as of Friday (29 May). According to HMRC, this number has more than doubled from 795 as of 12 May, to 1,868 two-and-a-half weeks later. An HMRC spokesperson said “fraudulent claims limit our ability to support people and deprive public services of essential funding”, adding: “We’d ask anyone concerned their employer might be abusing the scheme to please contact us. It could be that you’re not being paid what you’re entitled to, they might be asking you to work while you’re on furlough, or they may have claimed for times when you were working.”

2.40pm More than a quarter of UK workers now furloughed

Some 300,000 more UK workers have been furloughed in the past week, raising the total to 8.7 million since the start of the coronavirus crisis, government figures show. This equates to more than a quarter of the UK's workforce being supported by the scheme. Another 200,000 self-employed have taken up government grants, meaning 2.5 million have been given support through the self-employed income support scheme. 

12.20pm Excess workloads and fear of redundancy driving lockdown presenteeism, study finds

UK employees working from home during the coronavirus crisis are facing increased pressure to be available and are less able to switch off from work, a survey has shown, with excess workloads and fear of redundancies driving presenteeism. Almost half (46 per cent) of Brits carrying out their jobs remotely during lockdown reported feeling more pressure to be ‘present’ for their employer and colleagues, with more than a third (35 per cent) saying they had continued to work despite feeling unwell.

Of those who had worked through illness, 40 per cent said this was because they didn’t feel they were sick enough to warrant a day off. However, more than a quarter (26 per cent)  reported workload as a reason for not taking a day off, and 16 per cent cited fear of redundancy.

12pm EasyJet to resume flights on half its routes by end of July

EasyJet will resume flights on half of its 1,022 routes by the end of July, increasing to 75 per cent during August. The Luton-based carrier said flights will be at a lower frequency than normal, meaning the airline will operate at around 30 per cent of its normal capacity between July and September.

The airline previously announced it would resume operations on 15 June, but flights would mainly be restricted to domestic routes in the UK and France. EasyJet said a series of new safety measures would be introduced to protect staff and passengers, including requiring passengers to wear face masks at airports and on aircraft. Other steps to boost hygiene include not selling food during flights, enhanced cleaning of planes and disinfection wipes and hand sanitiser being provided.

11.45am How are people teams responding to coronavirus? ...Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Paula Ward, organisational development director for the trust, shares how her team has helped supercharge the development of virtual outpatient clinics and empower staff to come up with innovative ways of doing things.

8.55am Alton Towers preparing for July reopening

Managers for Alton Towers are "optimistic" that the theme park will be open to visitors at the start of July. Visitors will be asked to pre-book tickets so numbers can be limited for social distancing, and people will have their temperatures checked before they are allowed to enter the theme park. Emma Catterall, divisional director at Alton Towers added: "We will temperature-check both guests and staff to make sure that people coming on to site are fit and healthy."

7.15am Oxfam to start reopening in England from 15 June

Oxfam will begin reopening its network of charity shops in England from 15 June, but has not yet confirmed which stores would open nor how many of them. However, it said there would be space for social distancing, staff and volunteers would have the necessary personal protective equipment, donated items will be isolated for 72 hours and all surfaces, doors and equipment will be regularly cleaned.

Oxfam, which has 595 outlets around the UK, said shops in Scotland and Wales will remain closed at this stage, as no dates have yet been set for retailers to reopen there. Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB chief executive, said: "Our shops are a much-loved part of their communities and, at this difficult time, we can't wait to reopen our doors and reconnect with our supporters and shoppers."

Monday 1 June

3.05pm Dealing with harassment in the remote workplace

Menna Chmielewski outlines how employers can minimise inappropriate behaviour in the new working environment created by Covid-19. 

3pm Coronavirus ‘test and trace’ system could prompt employment disputes surge, experts warn

The government’s new test and trace system to monitor coronavirus outbreaks could contribute to an increase in workplace disputes and even tribunals, some experts have warned

Under the scheme, those who have come into close contact with someone who tests positive will receive a phone call, text message or email telling them to stay at home for two weeks, even if they have no symptoms. The idea is to avoid national lockdowns, with more localised restrictions used instead. However, Emilie Cole, partner and employment lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, warned of a potential rise in employment tribunals where staff felt unable to stay away from their jobs to self-isolate. The question, she said, was whether employees would be willing to take things as far as making a claim.

2.55pm New-look job retention scheme – what’s the detail now it’s been announced?

On Friday (29 May), chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the long-awaited detail on his plans to wind down the furlough scheme by October. This included detail on the creation of new flexibilities allowing employees to work part time while still being eligible for furlough grants, and the introduction of employer contributions.

Sunak also used this as an opportunity to announce a “new collective national effort” to revive Britain’s economy, with details of a new job creation scheme expected in the near future.

As employer groups welcome the chancellor’s approach, People Management gives the lowdown on the new system

1pm Hotels in Northern Ireland to reopen in July

Northern Ireland’s hotels can reopen from 20 July as long as the rate of infection is under control, Stormont economy minister Diane Dodds has said. "I believe the time is right to provide the tourist accommodation sector with clarity about opening dates,” Dodds said. “I want to build upon the positive progress in managing the spread of the virus and begin to reopen our tourism industry in a safe and managed way."

The reopening on 20 July is expected to cover hotels, hostels, guesthouses and guest accommodation, as well as holiday and home parks, caravan sites and self-catering properties – although the latter may be opened earlier depending on scientific advice. Dodds gave no further details on the health and safety precautions that employers in this sector would be expected to take. 

10.20am Primark plans to reopen all 153 stores in England on 15 June

Primark has said it plans to reopen all 153 of its English stores on 15 June, as non-essential retailers across England begin to restart their businesses as well. The fast fashion retailer said it will introduce physical-distancing protocols in stores, as well as hand sanitiser stations, perspex screens at tills and additional cleaning of high-frequency touch points. All employees will also be offered personal protection, including masks and gloves.

Primark has already reopened 112 stores in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, and said trading in its reopened stores “has been both reassuring and encouraging, with customer queues outside most stores and, once in store, spending on larger basket sizes”. Primark said it had paid £10m to help low-paid workers in its supply chain in countries such as Bangladesh. 

8.30am Government planning large job creation scheme

As well as announcing details of how the furlough scheme will be wound down and made more flexible, chancellor Rishi Sunak used Friday’s daily Downing Street press conference to announce a “new collective national effort” to revive Britain’s economy, with ministers telling the Financial Times that Sunak and prime minister Boris Johnson are planning a big job creation scheme to address the danger of mass unemployment. Johnson is discussing with ministers a job creation programme – focusing on upgrading infrastructure, including broadband and green energy projects – while Gavin Williamson, education secretary, is drawing up a skills package to retrain workers, particularly the young, the FT report

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