The Chancellor Rishi Sunak called the Job Retention Scheme a “world leading economic intervention” which has saved 7.5m jobs. He said the Government had altered the scheme to allow furloughed staff to begin working part-time, although employers would have to start contributing.
The news came as the Government issued manufacturers with advice on how to manage the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic that includes introducing back-to-back or side-to-side working, screens and barriers and fixed teams.
A range of guidelines were launched for different industries with advice on how to retain safety in the workplace.
The guidelines advise food factories to ensure that they conduct a risk assessment that addressed the threats posed by COVID-19. The Government said it was clear that workers should not be forced into an unsafe workplace.
The Working safely during COVID-19 factories, plants and warehouses guidance states that social distancing must be maintained in the workplace “wherever possible”.
Where social distancing guidelines cannot be followed in full for certain activities, businesses should consider whether the activity needs to continue, according to the guidance. If it does, they should take all mitigating actions possible to reduce the risk of transmission between staff.
These mitigating actions include further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning, keeping the activity time involved as short as possible, using screens or barriers, using back-to-back or side-to-side working and reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using fixed teams or partnering.
It added: “Social distancing applies to all parts of a business, not just the place where people spend most of their time, but also entrances and exits, break rooms and canteens and similar settings. These are often the most challenging areas to maintain social distancing.”
It has also advised staggering arrival and departure times, providing additional parking or facilities such as bike racks, limiting passengers in corporate vehicles that could include leaving seats empty.
The guidance suggests reducing congestion by introducing more workplace entrances and exits, using markings and one-way flows at these points and offering handwashing facilities or hand sanitiser at entrances and exits.
It advises employers to look at personal protective equipment that shields the user against health and safety risks at work.
Guidelines have also been issued for food takeaway and delivery services, advising administrative staff to remain working at home.
They advise minimising contact between kitchen workers and front-of-house workers, delivery drivers or riders by having zones from which delivery drivers can collect packaged food items. And they state that these businesses should revise pick-up and drop-off collection points, reduce frequency of deliveries and have single workers load or unload vehicles.