Northern Ireland news

Council staff facing redundancy back at work instead of furlough

Antrim and Newtownabbey council
Brendan Hughes

SOME 18 council staff initially threatened with redundancy due to financial pressures from the coronavirus crisis are back at work instead of being furloughed.

Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council had earlier this month proposed laying off 73 workers, but a decision on 46 of the jobs was deferred.

The council later announced it would seek to furlough hundreds of staff, after receiving confirmation that councils could apply to the UK-wide scheme.

Of the 46 jobs on which a decision was deferred, just 28 were placed on the furlough scheme.

Explaining the decision, a council spokesman said: "The determining factor in those who were placed on furlough was the eligibility for the scheme according to their area of work."

In a statement he added: "In line with guidance available relating to the job retention scheme, the staff proposed to be furloughed work in posts from areas that have been significantly affected in relation to income generation (from non-public sector sources)."

Antrim and Newtownabbey council is among various local authorities in Northern Ireland which have sought to furlough staff.

Councils have warned of a significant reduction in revenue streams as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme aims to prevent redundancies by allowing employers to apply for a government grant to cover most of the wages for staff who are placed on temporary leave, or 'furloughed'.

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