Number of furloughed manufacturing workers is on the rise

There has been a significant rise in the number of workers furloughed in the manufacturing sector this year, with 312,800 people on furlough at the end of January.

With the furlough scheme set to be extended this week until September, new HMRC data shows a 14% increase in headcount for furloughed employees. In comparison 274,500 furloughed manufacturing employees in December 2020, the third national lockdown has meant a steep steep increase in furlough figures.

The data, analysed by Employment Lawyers at Richard Nelson LLP, found almost half (49%) of manufacturing employers used the furlough scheme in January 2021, up from 42% in December last year.

When comparing the manufacturing sector to other industries, Richard Nelson LLP found the manufacturing industry has furloughed more employees than both the construction and transport sectors this year.


December 2020

January 2021










Wholesale and retail




Transportation and storage




Jayne Harrison, Head of Employment Law at Richard Nelson LLP said: “The manufacturing industry has been advised by the government to continue operating as normal, with the necessary COVID-secure measures in place. For workers who cannot return to their job role or who are not currently needed because of reduced demand, the furlough scheme has kept them employed and meant they are not adding to rising unemployment in the UK.

“We are expecting for the furlough scheme to be extended today with the announcement of the chancellor's budget. For manufacturing firms, this will help to ease the anxiety and uncertainty over the next few months and allow for companies to plan better for the future. We predict that as lockdown continues to ease, these figures will begin to decline as more workers are needed back in at their posts.”

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