The “devil will be in the detail” of the extension of the chancellor’s furlough scheme as to whether it might save jobs in the travel industry, according to a leading employment lawyer.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was extended on Tuesday, up to the end of October.

But speaking in a Travel Weekly advice webcast, Travlaw employment law specialist Ami Naru pointed out that the scheme will only exist in its current guise until the end of July.

“However,” she said. “From August through to the end of October, I really think the devil is going to be in the detail as to how that scheme is going to be operating. And the government has said that they will provide the guidance format by the end of May. So at least this time around, we have June and July to digest that guidance before those measures kicking in.

“Unlike when the first game was announced, we are all very much on the backfoot as to how it was going to work.”

The government indicated that it will introduce the option for firms to bring staff out of furlough part-time, and split the cost of 80% of their salary with the government.

“Until we know what that detail is, we can’t really work out how that’s going to impact employers, and to what extent, because some may not have any work for their staff to come back to do in August,” Naru said. “And if you think about the travel industry, at the outset, there are a lot of customer queries that need to be dealt with. Those queries may have died down by August.

“I suppose it really depends on to what extent the travel industry picks up on whether people started to go on holidays from August onwards. So, the first question is, ‘is there actually work for them today?’ And the second question is, ‘can we afford to pay them to do that work even if it’s part-time and even if the government are contributing to their wages?’.

She said employers have been split between those who have made redundancies despite the furlough scheme being introduced, and those suspending the decisions as and when furlough has been extended.

“The devil is really going to be in the detail as to whether this continues to provide some assistance to employers,” Naru concluded.

banner14may2