CIPD in the news: urging employers and policymakers to minimise job losses and step up support for mental health

A round-up of the CIPD’s work to champion better work and working lives during the coronavirus outbreak

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In an interview with The Times this week, CIPD Chief Executive Peter Cheese said that nothing comes close in recent history to the extraordinary changes in the UK’s labour market that have been triggered by the coronavirus outbreak. He also reiterated the need for further guidance from the Government on whether or not furloughed workers can take on other work.

The unprecedent circumstances and resulting economic uncertainty have triggered a range of responses from both employers and policymakers.

To help ensure these decisions are principles-led, evidence-based, and outcomes-driven, the CIPD continues to share its expertise and insights into real working lives with media, policy makers and its worldwide community of people professionals.

Minimising job losses

Last week we published insights into the ways in which employers are responding to the COVID-19 crisis. We found that more than half of UK employers expect to furlough staff using the Government’s Job Retention Scheme. A quarter said they expect to cut jobs permanently, with one in ten expecting to lose between 11 and 49 per cent of employees. Ben Willmott, the CIPD’s Head of Public Policy, urged employers to look at all options available to them before making redundancies – not only to protect employees’ livelihoods but also the future of their businesses: ‘Redundancies should be a last resort; organisations that are most successful in protecting jobs and supporting their employees will also be those that are most resilient and best able to recover once this crisis has passed.’ In addition to the CIPD’s own communications channels, these insights were publicised by a range of media outlets including Financial Times, BBC, ‘I’ newspaper and The Scotsman.

Under the Job Retention Scheme, organisations of any size can access government support to continue paying up to 80% of furloughed employees’ salaries, therefore protecting them from redundancy. The Government published updated guidance last weekend which stipulated that organisations can re-employ workers made redundant, or who stopped working for them after 28 February, as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. While good news for workers that fall into these categories, many employers remain confused about what these temporary measures mean. To help ensure employers implement the scheme effectively and responsibly, our coronavirus furlough guide outlines the key facts, eligibility criteria and legal position. We also hosted a webinar on Wednesday where employers had the opportunity to put their questions to a panel of experts.

Promoting health and well-being

Meanwhile, we’ve also urged employers to step up their support for mental health during the coronavirus crisis. Our annual benchmark of employers' approach to health and well-being showed that less than a third of managers have the confidence to talk about mental health, and a separate survey found that managing people’s fear and anxiety is the most common challenge employers are currently facing.

Supporting and championing the people profession

On our social media channels, we continued to share advice and guidance from our Coronavirus hub, and have been hosting a weekly live Q&A on Twitter (#AskTheCIPD) where experts have been answering employer’s questions about furloughing and managing remote workers. We also saw people professionals begin to share examples of the positive ways in which they’ve been responding to the coronavirus crisis, using our hashtag #HRtogether.

The CIPD is in regular contact with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to advise on government policy and ensure it reflects the realties that organisations and their workforces are facing. They are keen to hear how organisations are adapting to current circumstances, as well as how they’re using the government support packages. We’ll be sharing some of the great stories we're hearing from our members about the lengths people professionals are going to put people first during this crisis.

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