The number of jobs furloughed has fallen between February and March 2021, according to new, provisional data from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). 

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (also known as the furlough scheme) was instated in March 2020 and, as of April 2021, has supported a total of 11.5 million jobs.

However, provisional figures from HMRC have shown a potential drop-off in the number of employments furloughed, with this falling to 4.2 million by the end of March.

This is a decrease of 500,000 jobs furloughed – with this number previously standing at 4.7 million on the 28th February.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic impacting various sectors in different ways, all sectors have seen a reduction in levels of furlough between 28 February and 31 March 2021.

The wholesale and retail sector had the highest proportion of employments furloughed. At its peak in April 2020, 1.85 million jobs within this industry were furloughed. Almost a year on, this has declined to 825,600 employments by the end of March 2021.

The accommodation and food services sector was also negatively affected by the impact of the pandemic with 1.65 million employments on furlough on 10th April 2020. However, provisional estimates suggest this has now fallen to 1.06 million.

Figures also show a sizeable difference between the number of female employees on furlough and their male counterparts.

By the end of February 2021, 2.37 million employments were furloughed which were held by female employees. Provisional figures show that this decreased throughout March to 2.12 million by the end of the month.

Conversely, for male employees, there were 2.17 million employments furloughed at 28 February. This decreased to 1.95 million by the 31 March 2021, showing a slightly slower rate of recovery than their female counterparts.

Under 18s had the highest take up rate for both female and males at 28 February, 41 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. This age group still continues to have the highest take-up rates at 38 per cent for females and 28 per cent for males.

Overall, the furlough scheme is set to end at the close of September, forecast to lead to a rise in redundancies and unemployment as the financial support is removed.






Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.