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Cranfield School of Management and CBI Economics study shows employers are more open to part time working Post Covid19

THE furlough scheme brought in by the Government during the Covid19 Pandemic did not just save millions of people from unemployment and economic hardship, but may have had a lasting effect on the ways in which their employers allow them to work in the future, according to a new report out.

Introduced in March 2020, and further modified in July that year to allow for a part time furlough option, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) enabled organisations to reclaim up to 80% of the wage costs of employees who could not work during the Pandemic.

Successful in avoiding mass redundancies during a time of crisis, the scheme may also have ongoing benefits, according to the 1st wave of a survey conducted by Cranfield School of Management and CBI Economics which found increased employer openness to and knowledge of how to facilitate part time working.

A 'fundamental' change in perceptions... Data from whole organisation representatives and line managers in 208 UK businesses was collected in February this year and showed that the flexible furlough scheme; which enabled employers to bring staff back to work on a part-time basis and for them to be furloughed the remainder of the time; has impacted employers' perceptions around working practices, increasing openness to part-time working and other forms of flexible working as viable options for their business.

Key findings include:-

Post Pandemic, 62% of line managers in the survey said they were:- 'more willing' to consider employee requests for part time working.

96% said they were more flexible about where their employees worked, and 87% about how they scheduled their working hours.

Over 50% of the organisations surveyed expected remote, and flexible working to increase in their organisation over the next 2 years (60% and 58% respectively). A significant proportion (46%) also expected part-time working to increase.

45% believed the use of flexible furlough has helped line managers learn how to design and manage part-time working more effectively.

Similarly, 46% believed line managers have learned how to better match resourcing with periods of peak demand for their business activity as a result of using the flexible furlough scheme.

Prior to the Pandemic, most part-time working came about as the result of employee requests, with a proactive approach to recruiting new employees considered a secondary benefit.

Of these initial findings, the report's authors said:- "As working practices settle into aL0 'new normal,' there are indications that the shock caused by the Pandemic, as well as use of the furlough scheme and adoption of more flexible working during the Pandemic, will have lasting consequences on working practices going forward. The survey reveals a mindset of greater adaptability, with line managers more willing to consider requests for part-time and other forms of flexible working."

Part time working is an important feature of any labour market, offering greater choice in working arrangements for employees and widening participation in employment for those unable to work full time. It also brings benefits for employers, helping them retain existing employees and attract new ones, and cover extended operating hours and periods of peak demand.

Pre-Pandemic, Office for National Statistics (ONS) data suggests that 26% of UK workers worked part time, some to meet their employer's needs, and others to allow them to better balance their work with the requirements of their life outside employment.

Anna Leach, Deputy Chief Economist, at the CBI, said:- "It is clear that the CJRS has been more than just a:- 'bridge to the other side.' Both the scheme and the Pandemic itself have fostered, even accelerated, large shifts in the nature of work and attitudes towards it. We know that the future of work is a key priority for our members, who are conscious of their employees' renewed focus on work-life balance and desire for more flexibility around the location and organisation of their work, against the backdrop of a very tight jobs market. These findings show that changes in working practices, and attitudes towards them, are very much underway. It is particularly encouraging to see that this shift in attitudes is associated with positive financial situations for companies, with the majority of the organisational representatives surveyed reporting that the financial wellbeing of their organisation was good or very good, and expected to remain positive over the next 2 years at least. "

Professor Clare Kelliher, Professor of Work and Organisation at Cranfield School of Management, said:- "The flexible element of the furlough scheme effectively marked a 'forced experiment' in part-time working for many employers that had little previous experience of part time working. As is always the case with any enforced situation, it can be a very different story when life returns to 'normal,' but these survey findings suggest that the practical experience of trying out part time working has helped to overcome some of the perceived barriers for employers around its feasibility and how to implement it in practice. This is heartening, because there is evidence to suggest that more people would like to work part time than currently do, as well as explore options for greater flexibility in the way in which they work."

The report, The future of flexible working: Lessons from the Covid19 Pandemic, was published as part of a broader research project being undertaken by Cranfield School of Management on behalf of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) which it is hoped will inform future organisational and Government policy in this area. The project is being funded by the ESRC as part of UK Research and Innovation's rapid response to Covid19.

Tax Credits customers warned about scammers posing as HMRC

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is warning Tax Credits customers to be aware of scams and fraudsters who imitate the department in an attempt to steal their personal information or money.

About 2.1 million Tax Credits customers are expected to renew their annual claims by 31 July 2022 and could be more susceptible to the tactics used by criminals who mimic Government messages to make them appear authentic.

In the 12 months, to April 2022, HMRC responded to nearly 277,000 referrals of suspicious contact received from the public. Fraudsters use phone calls, text messages and emails to try and dupe individuals - often trying to rush them to make decisions. HMRC will not ring anyone out of the blue threatening arrest; only criminals do that.

Typical scam examples include:-

Phone calls threatening arrest if people don't immediately pay fictitious tax owed. Sometimes they claim that the victim's National Insurance number has been used fraudulently.

Emails or texts offering spurious tax rebates, bogus Covid19 grants or claiming that a direct debit payment has failed.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC's Director General for Customer Services, said:- "We're urging all of our customers to be really careful if they are contacted out of the blue by someone asking for money or bank details. There are a lot of scams out there where fraudsters are calling, texting or emailing customers claiming to be from HMRC. If you have any doubts, we suggest you don't reply directly, and contact us straight away. Search Gov.UK for our 'scams checklist' and to find out 'how to report tax scams.'"

HMRC does not charge Tax Credits customers to renew their annual claims and is also urging them to be alert to misleading websites or adverts designed to make them pay for Government services that should be free, often charging for a connection to HMRC phone helplines.

Customers can renew their Tax Credits for free via Gov.UK or the HMRC app and are advised to search Gov.UK to get the genuine information and guidance.

Renewing online is quick and easy. Customers can log into Gov.UK to check the progress of their renewal, be reassured it is being processed and know when they will hear back from HMRC. Customers choosing to use the HMRC app on their smartphone can:-

Renew their Tax Credits.

Update changes to their claim.

Check their Tax Credits payments schedule.

Hind out how much they have earned for the year.

HMRC has released a video to explain how Tax Credits customers can use the HMRC app to view, manage and update their details.

If there is a change in a customer's circumstances that could affect their Tax Credits claims, they must report the changes to HMRC. Circumstances that could affect Tax Credits payments include:- changes to:-

Living arrangements.


Working hours.

Income (increase or decrease)

Tax Credits are ending and will be replaced by Universal Credit by the end of 2024. Many customers who move from Tax Credits to Universal Credit could be financially better off and can use an independent benefits calculator to check. If customers choose to apply sooner, it is important to get independent advice beforehand as they will not be able to go back to Tax Credits or any other benefits that Universal Credit replaces.


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