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Labour calls on government to allow workers shielding from coronavirus to be furloughed

LABOUR called today for special provisions to be added to the government’s furlough scheme for people who need to shield themselves from coronavirus but cannot work from home.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said that many people faced a “double whammy” of health and financial concerns that would take an “unimaginable toll.”

Ms Dodds set out three demands for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to “shield those shielding” from the virus.

She called on him to adopt her three-point plan before tomorrow’s deadline for bosses to furlough workers for health reasons.

After June 30, employers can only continue to furlough employees who have previously been on the scheme for at least three weeks.

Labour warned that the “rigid deadlines fail to take into consideration the fact that many people move in and out of shielded categories.”

For example, a new diagnosis of a serious illness after June 10 could mean that anyone unable to work from home is forced to choose between struggling for money and jeopardising their health.

The party called on Mr Sunak to exempt those shielding from the June 10 furlough deadline, exempt employers from having to increase contributions towards the salaries of furloughed employees who are shielding and allow shielding employees a right to be furloughed if they cannot work from home.

Ms Dodds’s intervention came as Citizens Advice revealed it was seeing thousands of cases where employers were refusing to furlough shielding employees who were unable to work from home.

She said: “The three-point plan we are setting out today would provide support and certainty at this difficult time.

“Failure to act before Wednesday’s furlough cliff edge could force many of the most vulnerable into an impossible choice between their livelihood or their health.”

Ms Dodds also warned that those shielding could face greater hardship after the furlough scheme starts winding down in August.

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