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Coronavirus: Low-paid workers hit hardest by crisis as a third are let go or furloughed, report shows

Workers with insecure shift patterns are most likely to have lost work (PA)

2 min read

New figures show that lower-paid workers have been hit hardest by the coronavirus crisis as almost a third say they’ve already lost work or been furloughed.

Analysis of YouGov figures by the Resolution Foundation found that just 3% of the top fifth of earners had lost work, while a further 9% had been furloughed.

But the survey of 6,005 British adults also revealed that 25% of the bottom fifth of the job market had been asked to down tools, while 5% had lost their jobs.

Meanwhile, workers with insecure shift patterns were shown to significantly more likely to lose work or have their salary covered by the Job Retention Scheme (JRS). 

Around 31% of workers with variable hours and 28% of those on zero-hours contracts had been affected, compared to just 14% of the general population. 

And the report revealed that Brits remained very pessimistic about the future, with around one-in-eight workers believing they could lose their jobs in the next three months.

The Resolution Foundation said the figures highlighted the importance of the Government’s furlough scheme, but warned that the labour market would need additional support once it ended.

Since the JRS was announced by the Chancellor on 23 March, 7.5 million jobs have been placed on furlough by nearly 1 million firms.

It comes as the UK is braced to enter the worst recession since the 2008 financial crisis following a sharp 5.8% economic downturn in March. 

Hannah Slaughter, economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Britain’s lowest-paid workers and those with the most insecure work are bearing the brunt of Britain’s economic crisis.

“Close to a third of our lowest-paid employees have already lost their jobs or been furloughed since the crisis began. 

“Thankfully, the majority are having their earnings protected by the Government’s retention scheme. Nonetheless, their job prospects over the coming months are highly uncertain.

“The Government’s bold support measures have avoided unimaginable unemployment rises but the jobs crisis is far from over, with around one in seven workers still fearing they could lose their jobs in the coming months. 

“We now need to see new measures – including job guarantees for young people – to tackle the high levels of joblessness that are likely to be with us long after the pandemic has subsided.”

Earlier this week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the coronavirus furlough programme will be extended until the end of October.

But he hinted the terms of the policy will change from August, with furloughed employees able to return to work part-time, but employers expected to cover more of the cost.

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