New workers face financial hardship due to furlough loophole

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financial uncertainty,
© Anyaberkut

Many workers who moved jobs in the past month face financial uncertainty, as calls for Government to widen its support grow

As the impact of coronavirus continues to grow, thousands across the country now face increased stress and financial adversity.

The government has announced a series of measures to support businesses; however, those who recently moved jobs fall short of this support.

The support for workers states people can only receive wage grants if they started their job prior to the 28 February cut-off date.

As a consequence, people who would have been classed as ‘furloughed workers’ in their previous jobs are now unable to do so.

One such worker, reached out to PBC Today to share his story.

‘I am now unemployed for the first time since I was 15’

Having spent three years working as part of a senior management team for a small restoration company in London, Samuel-James Wilson accepted a new position with a larger company to join the management team at a highly regarded project in Westminster in February.

Wilson handed his notice to the previous employer with a finish date of 22 March 2020. An agreed start date of 24 March 2020 with the new employer was confirmed.

Wilson said: “One working day before the contract was due to commence my new company, withdrew the offer and contract due to the incoming lockdown. They were willing to put me in furlough leave but due to the government bill stating you had to have worked with the company since February I was unable to do this.

“My only option was to go back to the previous employer with my cap in hand and beg them to help me out which they refused on the grounds of cash flow. I have since returned to them in a humiliated plea but received no reply.

“I am now unemployed for the first time since I was 15 and am having to sign up for Universal Credit. I have paid taxes, NI and everything I was asked throughout my career, now I am left with nothing whilst the self-employed and people that fall within the government brackets get 80% wages page.”

Wilson is currently undertaking part-time study at Kingston University to gain a Historic Building Conservation Degree.

He added: “As you can imagine, the past few weeks have been immensely stressful as I am trying to figure out how I am going to pay my bills, keep my home whilst also continuing with my studies.”

#newstarterfurlough

Sadly, Wilson is not the only worker facing these uncertainties – a group of nearly 4,000 people have taken to Facebook to voice their concerns, while many more are tweeting their experiences under the #newstarterfurlough.

A campaign on change.org has also been launched to support workers who started their job after 28 February.

In comments to the BBC, a government spokesman stated: “[The scheme] allows for those who were on the payroll of a company on 28 February but subsequently left to be put back on payroll and furloughed.

“This includes those who have resigned to start a new job after 28 February.

“Decisions around whether to offer to furlough someone are down to the individual company.”

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