Yesterday evening the BBC reported that Rightmove has joined several other major U.K. companies, including Compass, Primark and John Lewis, in rejecting the offer of millions of pounds in payouts from the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme bonus.
Firms are able to claim £1,000 for each furloughed worker that they retain past January 2021.
Builders Taylor Wimpey, Barratt and Redrow will not claim payouts but Tata Steel, part of an empire controlled by one of India’s richest families, intends to apply.
The scheme is meant to help to stop a huge rise in joblessness when the wage support programmes end in October and firms are faced with increasing wage bills.
It is almost certain that high profile firms have half an eye on the PR value of rejecting the bonus payment.
Taking tax payers money would be difficult to justify when several of your larger clients have publicly decided not to claim.
Rightmove is said to have furloughed 160 employees and would have been able to claim £160,000 of the bonus payments, if it had applied.
The portal, which has an exceptionally high profit margin among quoted companies, is reported as saying:
“Now that the housing market has reopened across all parts of the UK we are in a fortunate position that by the end of July all our furloughed employees will be back at work, and therefore we will not need to make use of the furlough bonus scheme.”
About 9.4 million workers currently have 80% of their wages, up to £2,500 per month, paid by the government’s furlough scheme.
But there are real fears that as the scheme winds down in the autumn companies will make staff redundant rather than footing an increasing wage bill.
Companies that claim the furlough bonus scheme will, in effect, be pledging to retain their staff into 2021 and so help to prevent a job-loss spike.
A Treasury spokeman is said to have told the BBC that:
“It’s great to see employers getting their staff back to work and protecting jobs without needing to draw on the extra support the job retention bonus offers, and we welcome the decision of businesses to do so.”