The number of workers returning from leave fell sharply in July despite the removal of most pandemic-related restrictions across the UK, with 1.6 million jobs still in emergency wage support at the end of the month.
Figures from HM Revenue and Customs showed that about 340,000 people left the Treasury’s multibillion-pound job protection program in July, up from 590,000 in June.
The 1.6 million jobs still on leave in July compare to a peak of 5.1 million in January during winter lockdown.
As a sign of continued pressure on jobs despite the government’s ‘freedom day’ removal of pandemic restrictions in England on July 19, and as controls were lifted in Scotland, Wales and Ireland from North, figures show that a quarter of employers were still using the program at the end of the month, with 5% of the entire UK workforce still receiving top-ups.
Some professions have been more heavily on leave than others, reflecting moderate consumer demand amid the rise of the Delta coronavirus variant or the impact of continued government restrictions on international travel.
More than half of air passenger transport staff – around 51% of the workforce – were still temporarily absent from their jobs at the end of July, amid still high rates of coronavirus infections and the fire system government traffic affecting the demand for overseas travel and vacations.
Areas near airports remained among the places with the highest rates of workers on leave, with 10% of all employees in Hounslow, Hillingdon and Slough – near Heathrow – and 9% of staff in Crawley – near Gatwick – still on the program.
Almost half of workers in travel agencies and tour operators remained on leave, while more than a quarter of employees in the creative, arts and entertainment industry remained affiliated.
The numbers are the HMRC’s final snapshot before the government kills the leave scheme at the end of the month. Companies had been invited from July 1 to contribute to the cost of wages for employees on leave, as part of a phasing out of the program which has protected more than 11 million jobs since its launch in the first wave of Covid-19 last year.
Diana Holland, deputy general secretary of Unite, said the figures demonstrated the need for continued leave for the hardest hit sectors, especially aviation, to avoid job losses and undermine the UK economic recovery from the pandemic.
“For industries that continue to be directly affected by the pandemic, ending the leave regime will result in unnecessary job losses. The first of these is the aviation sector, the recovery of which is still delayed and, unlike any other sector, is highly dependent on the lifting of international restrictions, ”she said.
It also comes as businesses grapple with a severe shortage of workers, including truck drivers, warehouse staff, caregivers and hospitality workers. However, economists have warned that ending the program is unlikely to fill those gaps, as the largest number of employees on leave are in different industries.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government is “doubling down” on plans to support job creation and training as the program ends this month.
“It’s fantastic to see leave levels at their lowest since the start of the pandemic, with young people in particular getting back to work and resuming their careers as the UK resumes operations,” he said. declared.
Top five professions on leave
Air passenger transport: 51%
Travel agency and tour operator activities: 46%
Photographic activities: 35%
Creative; arts and entertainment activities: 28%
Clothing manufacturers: 26%