Joanne Frew, Head of Employment Law at legal business, DWF, comments on the ONS employment figures published today.
"The latest ONS figures show the UK unemployment rate in the three months to September 2020 was estimated at 4.8%, 0.9 percentage points higher than a year earlier and 0.7 percentage points higher than the previous quarter. In the three months to September 2020, redundancies reached a record high of 314,000; an increase of a record 181,000 on the quarter. With employers expecting the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to end on 31 October 2020, it is unsurprising that we have seen a negative impact on the employment figures and the significant spike in redundancies. With news that the CJRS has been extended to March 2021, we can expect the figures to level out over the next five months. Unfortunately, this extended support came too late for some as redundancies had already been made. Although the CJRS allows employers in some circumstances to re-hire redundant employees, it is questionable how many would take this option due to the legal complexities involved.
"The figures show total hours worked between July and September had a record increase from the low levels in the previous quarter, this is due to a number of coronavirus lockdown measures easing over this period. As we enter a further lockdown, we can expect this figure to significantly decrease over the next quarter.
"Although the figures paint a bleak picture this month, the combination of extended government support and hopes for a vaccine should help to instil confidence in employers going forward."