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Government won’t extend furlough for high-risk people

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The government confirmed it won’t extend the furlough scheme for those considered high risk or clinically extremely vulnerable in answer to a petition with thousands of signatures.

A petition calling for an extension to the furlough scheme for high-risk people who can’t safely return to work has been answered by the government.

It attracted over 21,000 signatures and called for furlough to be extended (initially beyond August) for those who are shielding or high-risk and cannot safely return to work.

“No-one should have to choose between their job and their health”, it stated.

The petition included: “Tens of thousands of workers will not be able to go back to work because they still face a high risk from coronavirus.

“People who are high-risk or shielding have made great sacrifices over the last few months to protect themselves, their families and the NHS, and it would be hugely unfair if they lost their jobs as a result.

“These people have supported all of us by keeping themselves safe from the virus, now it’s time for us to reciprocate by helping to protect their jobs.”

As the petition attracted over 10,000 signatures (the trigger point for a response), HM Treasury today said previously furloughed employees who are unable to work from home but are still clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) can still be furloughed flexibly under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) until the end of October.

“The government continues to ensure that the CEV can be suitably protected and have access to adequate support as the country returns to work. The CJRS flexible furloughing is designed to ensure that employees, especially those who may be shielding, are able to talk with their employer and agree options as to their work.

“From 1 August, the government relaxed advice to those who may be shielding or are CEV in order to ensure they can still stay at home as much as possible, but that if they are unable to work from home they can work on site, if the work environment is Covid-safe.”

The government added it’s important for CEV people to continue taking precautions, and employers should do all they can to enable them to work from home where possible, including by moving them to another role if required.

“Where this is not possible, CEV people should be provided with the safest onsite roles that enable them to maintain social distancing from others,” it added.

Further, where CEV people may not be eligible for the CJRS, the government said they may be eligible for welfare payments, help in obtaining food and medicine and council funding.

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