CIPD in the News: Embedding new ways of working, latest ONS employment stats and investigating furlough misuse

A round-up of the CIPD's work to raise the voice of the people profession and champion better work and working lives

Over the last two weeks the CIPD has continued its work to support and champion the profession. See below a roundup of some of the key highlights of this work.

Embedding new ways of working

The CIPD’s latest research evaluated the impact of the enforced shift to homeworking for many UK employers. For many, the shift has been a positive experience. Almost three quarters of employers reported improved work-life balance amongst staff, better employee collaboration (43%) and improved focus (38%).

The research − which was featured in The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and BBC Online − did however highlight some of the challenges that employers will face as increased homeworking looks set to become a long term trend.

Namely, supporting the mental wellbeing of staff should be a priority among employers. 47% of employers reported a decline in the mental wellbeing of their employees during lockdown. Other issues reported by employers included difficulties with line management when done remotely.    

Peter Cheese, CIPD Chief Executive, commented: ‘The step-change shift to home working to adapt to lockdowns has taught us all a lot about how we can be flexible in ways of working in the future. This should be a catalyst to change long held paradigms and beliefs about work for the benefit of many.’ 

David D’Souza, CIPD Membership Director, recently appeared on MoneyBox on BBC Radio 4, discussing both the benefits and challenges of homeworking for employers and employees. Listen here.

UK unemployment rises with youngest hardest hit

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) released the latest UK employment figures on 15 September, revealing a rise in unemployment to a two year high of 4.1% (up from 3.9%). 

The figures also show a particularly gloomy outlook for young people aged 16 – 24. Sectors that generally employ younger people – such as hospitality and retail - have been disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to significant job losses.

Gerwyn Davies, Senior Labour Market Analyst at the CIPD said: ‘Given we know that overall employment prospects are likely to deteriorate considerably over the next few months as a result of the closure of the furlough scheme and economic conditions, the Government will need to consider additional support beyond Kick Start to boost the job prospects of 16-24 year olds.’

See our full response here, which was also featured in The Times and Financial Times.

HMRC expects to investigate 27,000 furlough claims

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has identified 27,000 potential ‘high risk’ cases of employers that have either inadvertently or fraudulently claimed too much from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 

HMRC are due to begin contacting identified employers over the coming months, and insist they will give those effected the opportunity to make wrongly made claims right.

The CIPD responded to this news, with Peter Cheese commenting: ‘The HMRC is taking a measured and reasonable approach to identifying and tackling misuse of the furlough scheme, recognising that in many instances where there have been inappropriate claims, employers have made honest mistakes and that seeking to work with them to address these is the best way forward’.

See the full CIPD response, as well as the guidance published by HMRC to correct further claims.

The CIPD will continue to work closely with HMRC to provide guidance for members on the furlough scheme. See the CIPD Coronavirus Hub to find all of this guidance, and look out for further support to help members and practitioners identify any errors and the action needed to rectify them.

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