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New spaces of waiting: Furlough study

(23 April 2021)

Can you contribute to a study of the lived experience of being furloughed? The Office for National Statistics figures (February 2021) report that cumulatively 11.2 million people have been furloughed since the announcement of the Job Retention Scheme on 20 March 2020. The scheme enables employers to keep workers on their payroll in sectors affected by COVID-19 restrictions. Employees receive 80% of their salary from their employers, who in turn can recover part of the cost from HMRC. Furlough is not a new workplace tactic, but the introduction of the Job Retention Scheme has seen an unprecedented amount of people furloughed at the same time. PhD candidate Victoria J E Jones is looking for for more participants to be interviewed for the study. Participation is confidential and anonymised. It involves an one hour, recorded interview over Zoom. If you or someone you know can contribute to the study, please email victoria.j.jones@durham.ac.uk.

As a workplace strategy, furlough could be used for the foreseeable future as the UK transitions into post-pandemic economic recovery. The statistics tell us how many people are furloughed, but we cannot know how it is lived unless people share their experiences. It is therefore important to find out how individuals experience furlough and document the varying impacts being furloughed can have.

Through her preliminary research, PhD candidate Victoria J E Jones, has learnt that some people have found the time of furlough a period of reflection and an opportunity to try out new things. For others it has been an economic and emotional struggle.

“I have been interviewing people from a range of sectors across the UK. People have been very generous with sharing their insights of furlough with me. The way people have reacted to being furloughed is dependent on a variety of factors. Their financial situation and general attitude to work both have a meaningful impact on how they articulate their experiences of furlough”.

Victoria J E Jones is an ESRC funded PhD researcher in the department of Geography. The study has been approved by the department’s ethics and health and safety committees.

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